Planning for our Future Housing

The virtual Town Hall was interactive | Screenshot from Town Hall  |  post by Jennifer Silva

The City of Sausalito hosted its first of four Housing Element Town Halls on Feb 10. City Consultant Beth Thompson of De Novo Planning explained the Housing Element process and asked for community input.

Every local government jurisdiction in the Bay Area, including Sausalito and Marin County, is developing its own 6th Cycle Housing Elements, which are due in January 2023. The Housing Element is a mandatory part of the general plan and requires communities to plan for new housing.

As floating home residents, we are most directly impacted by the Sausalito and Marin County Housing Elements. Marin County covers unincorporated Marin, which includes most of our docks and Marin City. Sausalito covers the City of Sausalito only, but this is where many of us shop and spend our time away from home.

Due to the housing shortage and changes in state housing law, all Bay Area jurisdictions have seen large increases in the amount of housing they are expected to build. The previous housing cycle assigned 79 units to Sausalito. The 6th Cycle requires Sausalito to plan for 724 additional housing units.

The housing needs to be planned for four different income levels, based on individual annual income:

  • 200 units for very low income (less than $63,950 for an individual)
  • 115 units for low income (less than $102,450 for an individual)
  • 114 units for moderate income (less than $125,650 for an individual)
  • 295 units above moderate income (over $125,650 for an individual)

Housing is not currently affordable at any of these income levels. A household needs to make $450,000 per year to afford a single–family home, the most prevalent form of housing in Sausalito. Condominiums require a household income of $191,000. Studio apartment rentals, which average $2,118 in monthly rent, can be affordable for some low–income individuals. Very little is affordable to families at any income level.

The presentation highlighted some of Sausalito’s housing challenges. The average household size is just 1.6 people, and 37% of residents are over 65. Few people who work in Sausalito can afford to live here.

The top priorities for housing so far have been identified as follows:

  1. Provision of senior housing and affordable housing, especially workforce housing
  2. Restorative justice and making housing more equitable
  3. Balancing housing with preserving character and views, and challenges of sea level rise
  4. Addressing the unhoused population

The Marinship is a key issue in Sausalito. Most Sausalito and floating home residents want the “working waterfront” to remain healthy and viable. There is also interest in allocating some land within the Marinship for senior housing and affordable housing. The flat land and larger parcels make senior and affordable housing more viable in the Marinship than in other areas.

Many support increasing the live–aboard quota and expanding houseboat options. These options are dependent on approval from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which may be difficult to get. The residents also expressed support for small scale multi–family buildings. Some attendees suggested building in areas designated as “open space”, while others are opposed.

As work on the Housing Element continues, community members will have more opportunities to provide input. A survey is expected to be released this month.

Marin County is also requesting input on its Housing Element. Possible sites for development are distributed throughout Marin County, including Marin City.

You can learn more about the Sausalito housing element at the Sausalito City Government website and the Marin County Housing Element at the Marin County website.