Controversy Brewing over Marinship

Floating Homes under construction at Aquamaison, in Marinship  | photo and post by Larry Clinton

Kicking off the February annual meeting, FHA President Michael Labate cautioned, “I think we all need to be involved with what’s happening with Marinship. This is an important asset for all of us living on floating homes; there’s a whole industry there that supports us. We need to support the ongoing efforts of the people who work there.”

The next day, the Marin IJ ran a report about a zoning debate among city council members. Specifically, Vice Mayor Janelle Kellman mentioned the city council’s 3-2 vote on February 9 to approve consideration of zoning overlays throughout the city, including in the Marinship area. Overlay zoning is used by communities to apply area-specific standards and/or conditions—in other words, changes to the original local zoning. According to the IJ, the vote went against various working group votes and the Sausalito Planning Commission’s unanimous vote to ban zoning overlays in the area.

Under pressure to provide more affordable housing as well as greater ethnic diversity, Sausalito has been exploring ways to convert some commercial property in Marinship to residential or office usage. But various elements prefer to keep the area the keystone of Sausalito’s unique working waterfront. One such group is The Sausalito Working Waterfront Coalition, a non-profit 501(c)(4) coalition of Sausalito’s maritime craftspeople, technology innovators, industrial craftsmen, artisans, and artists advocating for the protection of their livelihoods, Sausalito’s economic heart, and its cultural heritage.

According to their newsletter, Currentz, “Developers wish to locate residential, office and mixed-use and other non water-dependent developments along the waterfront.” The coalition believes that “Marinship is poised to become an innovation and incubation hub focused on resilient technologies that can address the realities of a changing environment. This can only be accomplished if we envision Marinship not as a zone whose return on investment is to be maximized, but as an ethos where ideas are welcomed, vetted, fabricated, tested and developed.”

Adds community activist Bob Silvestri on Marin Post:  “In the end, a signal was given to Marinship property owners: If you can keep your office buildings vacant with lease rates that maritime, light industry or artists cannot afford to pay, you are well on your way to a residential overlay and a windfall profit.”

The discussion will be continued at the next city council meeting on March 9.