Black Point & Green Point
Little-known Marin communities offer rural seclusion
Photos by Tim Porter
“Black Point? Green Point? I’ve never heard of them and I’ve lived in Marin for years.” Don’t be surprised if that’s what you hear when inquiring about these two communities. They are located in Marin’s northeast corner, one on each side of State Highway 37 as you approach the Sonoma County line. Likewise, don’t be taken aback when a resident of Black Point declares, “I’ve lived in London and all over the U.S., and this is greatest place I’ve ever lived.” Meet Hank Barner. He is a 75-year-old confirmed bachelor who’s resided in Black Point for 33 years and entertains no thought of ever moving again. “Out here everyone gets along,” he says. “And that’s really unique in this time and age.”
That Barner can go days without leaving his Black Point home doesn’t mean he is a recluse. “I was on the Marin County Planning Commission for eight years, owned a candy store in Vallejo for 29 years and for the past 30 years I’ve been president of the Black Point Improvement Club, so I like people,” he says, “and what’s special here are the people—we’ve got contractors, teachers, even lawyers.” According to Barner, Black Point’s common thread is a love of nature and a strong desire that “nothing will ever change.”
“We’ve got no streetlights, no curbs, no gutters,” he says, “and that’s how we like it.” The view from Barner’s home is dominated by Mount Tam and it stretches over seven counties as well as San Pablo and San Francisco bays. “”On a clear day,” he says, “ I can see the city’s skyline in the distance while cows are grazing down below me.”
When you’re heading east on State Highway 37, Black Point is on your right, tucked up behind the rather new and luxurious StoneTree Golf Club and its complement of high-end, gate-guarded homes. “StoneTree is not part of Black Point,” says a Black Pointer who prefers her name not be mentioned in this story.
Black Point is unincorporated county land with a Novato post office, and the nearest shopping is on Novato’s Grant Avenue and at the Vintage Oaks Center, each about 15 minutes away. Local history records indicate the community’s first homes were hunting cabins built in the 1920s and earlier, several of which still exist.
Steve and Mary Knecht (pronounced “connect”) sarcastically consider themselves Black Point newcomers. “We’ve only been here 15 years,” jokes Steve, a software engineer specializing in county elections. “We’ve lived on a Sausalito houseboat, then in Mill Valley, and will probably never leave here.” What’s so special to him about Black Point? “Those glorious sunsets filtered through the oak trees,” he says with a flourish. “This place is truly an oak forest.”
Across Highway 37 from Black Point—on your left as you near Sonoma County—lies Green Point. “In general, I’d say our homes are a bit newer and a tad larger,” hesitantly states Dave Rasmussen, owner of D.V. Rasmussen & Son, a Novato-based home builder. “And in Green Point, most of the lots are two acres or larger.” (In Black Point, lots average a quarter of an acre.)
Putting it mildly, Rasmussen loves where he lives. “Green Point has horses, cows, chickens, even sheep,” he says, “plus an incredible amount of wildlife. Hawk, fox, bobcat, coyote, skunk and possum are commonplace sightings,” he says. “And the deer are everywhere.” Despite the rural and natural setting, Rasmussen, a life-long sailing enthusiast, feels the location is close to everything. “Head west and you’re quickly in West Marin; turn north and it’s Sonoma and Napa counties; go east to I-80 and Tahoe; and south into Marin and San Francisco. Green Point is country-like—yet in the middle of everything.”
Doug Seiler, broker for Novato’s Seiler Real Estate and Mortgage, has worked extensively in both Black Point and Green Point for the past 17 years. “Let’s be honest,” he says, “the market is rather soft depending on price.” To back up that statement, he cites recent sales and market conditions. “In Black Point, over the past six months, four homes were sold with prices averaging $756,000,” he says. “Currently, there are no homes on the market; however, two lots are listed for around $200,000 each.”
By way of contrast, across Highway 37 in Green Point, Seiler says, “right now, eight homes are on the market with an average asking price of $1,215,000.” Among them is a 2.3-acre estate that has been extensively remodeled and has spectacular views. “The price here has just been reduced to $963,000.” Over the past six months, he adds, three Green Point homes have sold for an average price of $1,172,000.