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What's in a Name?

Imagine an alternate reality that features a different Marin, one that resembles Manhattan Beach. That almost came to be. With suburbs sprouting up throughout the United States in the 1960s, developers were eyeing any potential site for the next planned paradise. One of those developers was Thomas Frouge, who deemed the Marin Headlands “the most beautiful location in the United States for a new community.” With Gulf Oil, he purchased the 2,000 acres of land and made plans for Marincello. The community was set to include 50 apartment towers, hundreds of homes and townhouses, a mall and a hotel. Activists calling themselves the Golden Gate Headlands Committee unsuccessfully challenged the project and in November 1965 the County of Marin approved the Marincello plans. However, lawsuits and skyrocketing budgets led to disputes between Frouge and Gulf Oil. The turmoil gave three Sausalito lawyers a chance to sue Marin County, Frouge and Gulf Oil for improper zoning, which also exposed other inaccuracies in the plan. Eventually the court ruled against the Marincello project and Marin’s board of supervisors also rescinded support. Finally in 1972 the land was sold to the Nature Conservancy for $6.5 million and was transferred to the newly formed Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Four years later, the Marincello gates were torn down and removed. Currently, the only remaining trace of the community is a sign with a trail that follows the route where planned roads were graded.

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