Positive Signs for Marinship

A busy working waterfront requires a variety of skills  |  photo from the Sausalito Working Waterfront Coalition  |  post by Larry Clinton

On January 30,  Sausalito City Council members and Planning Commissioners voted unanimously to site new housing in Sausalito safely away from the heart of the Marinship District’s working waterfront. According to the Sausalito Working Waterfront Coalition (SWWC):

The decision was reached during a marathon 6.5 hour joint Council and Planning Commission meeting where representatives raced against a state-imposed deadline of January 31 to adopt a new Housing Element for Sausalito. Failure to meet that deadline would have empowered developers to strip citizens of key controls over housing development.

Action was also needed to correct decisions made by a slim majority of previous City Councilmembers and their appointees to a Housing Element Advisory Committee who backed developer plans to site housing next to Sausalito’s industrial working waterfront-zoned boatyard. Inevitable conflicts caused by placing new residents next to the boatyard would have been a death sentence not only for the boatyard, but also for the surrounding industrial innovators and artists. Council members corrected that threat by removing Marina Plaza from a list of housing sites, favoring instead sites along Bridgeway north of Harbor Drive where small businesses will benefit from new housing units, a strategy called “mixed use residential.”

Newly elected council members tipped the balance of power in favor of protecting the waterfront’s maritime and industrial businesses and artists. The Coalition has stated: “During their campaigns, Joan Cox and incumbent Jill Hoffman made it clear that they were not in favor of locating housing near the industrial waterfront. Citizens responded to that message with overwhelming support for Hoffman and Cox.”

On a different but related front, we can help the City of Sausalito develop an improvement plan for Marinship Park by taking an online survey before February 28.

Marinship park has been closed to the public since June 2021, when the tent encampment was moved there from land adjacent to Dunphy Park. Although the encampment was disbanded in August 2022, the lawn area, restrooms, and tennis courts have remained closed pending repairs.

The results of the brief survey will help the City determine what other improvements should be made at Marinship Park while restoration work is underway. Questions about Marinship Park may be directed to Recreation Supervisor Bryan Vitale.

Also, the Sausalito Planning Commission opted to defer its ruling on a building project at 70-74 Liberty Ship Way to allow the developer to address a range of issues related to the appearance of the buildings, and the development’s impact on surrounding businesses, views and wildlife. The proposed project would construct three two–story buildings totaling approximately 50,000 square feet in an area near Galilee Harbor that is currently used for the dry storage of boats and other materials.

Prospective uses of the new buildings include general industrial, marine industrial, and marine commercial. A 20–seat restaurant was also proposed for the site. According to the Marin IJ, Commissioner Kristina Feller described the design as “monolithic” compared to previous designs presented at past study sessions. She said there were also concerns about the height and orientation of the buildings.

It looks like Sausalito is getting serious about maintaining its working waterfront—one of the City’s most distinctive characteristics. For more about the Housing Element requirements, see this piece from the Floating Times.