Gentrification of a Working Waterfront Panel discussion:
a grim warning on where Sausalito is headed.
How to destroy a working waterfront:
The unintended consequences of poorly planned zoning.
Find out how Alameda lost its working waterfront including Svendsen's Boat Works, dozens of other businesses and over 300 jobs as careless zoning changes by elected officials empowered developers to take control using mixed-use overlay zoning.
Why are Marinship's Industrial, Maritime,
and Artist lease rates more than double any other
Marin County community?
The data is in and it's very disheartening. And what seems to be a property owner strategy emerges. Commercial Real Estate firm Cushman and Wakefield have released data for the fourth quarter of 2020 indicated that the average industrial net lease rate for Sausalito/Mill Valley is $2.88 per sqft. This is more than double the average for Marin County rate of $1.26 per sqft. The next highest lease rate is $1.35 per sqft for San Rafael.
This dramatic difference in industrial lease rates is having a damaging impact on Sausalito's working waterfront. Yet, despite this disregard for zoning and the decades-long lack of enforcement, and despite the, "we want to save our working waterfront" rhetoric, the future plans for the Marinship seem to be moving toward fewer protections for maritime, industrial and artist uses. In fact, we hear that to protect maritime uses we need to allow more non-maritime uses. And to afford more industrial uses we need to allow more non-industrial uses. Certain city council members seem to be operating in lock-step with some property owners, developers, and real-estate lobby in favor of changing the Marinship zoning to suit their vision rather than the General Plan vision.
Consider that of the over two dozen spaces for lease in the industrial zone of the Marinship, not a single space is advertised as industrial, including those with roll-up doors and other industrial accommodations.
And so their strategy is clear: Industrial is discouraged and recent evidence indicates that industrial that makes noise is simply NOT WELCOME. This is done by charging lease rates that are clearly well beyond the market rate for other industrial properties throughout Marin. Many Marinship property owners have been accustomed to using over-priced lease rates to drive vacancies and then advocate for zoning and additional allowable uses within the same zoning. And that strategy has worked for decades.
In fact, in 2020, some city council members advocated that vacant offices be converted to housing. This "signal" to property owners seems to have increased vacancies and driven industrial lease rates more than $1 per sqft higher in 2020 than in 2019 when it was $1.88. Vacancies were also driven higher by a factor of 8, from 0.3% to 2.4%
Some property owners are even more clever in their approach. They have long-term leases with businesses with deep pockets. These businesses can afford to keep a space vacant for months or even years, Have you seen buildings like this? And what does that do to our community? It robs us of the potential jobs and secondary economic activity of those employees.
Despite a resurgence in American manufacturing and a dramatic increase in recreational and commercial marine sales, some property owners claim there is no demand. But the reality is that there is a resurgence in U. S. based micro-manufacturing activity. Also, local boat sales are up dramatically. Where will these boats be serviced? Hopefully, if zoning protections remain, Sausalito.
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