Virtual City Council Meeting Tuesday, July 7th at 7pm
City Council seems to be moving toward a General Plan Update that is crafted to loosen the restrictions of the Marinship Specific Plan and allow for major changes in the zoning code rewrite. Perhaps they think we do not notice. But we do. Please log into the zoom meeting and STRONGLY CONSIDER MAKING A PUBLIC COMMENT. Everyone gets up to 3 minutes. It will make a difference. At the very least please send an email to email@example.com and let them know how you feel about the Marinship.
Everyone should be involved. Sausalito is our city. We hope City Council listens to the residents and not the absentee landlords and developers who seek millions in profits.
City Council takes up the General Plan Update for the first time in 5 months at 7pm (July 7th)
Agenda: Link Here (Zoom link is in middle of first page)
Meeting Zoom Link Only: Here
Big Picture: As the new General Plan Update draft is currently written, it maintains many Marinship Plan restrictions. But that protection has been hard-fought by the General Plan Advisory Committee and the General Plan Working Group. The Working Group consisted of two Planning Commissioners (PC) and two City Council (CC) members. Janelle Kellman (PC) and Joan Cox(CC) led the fight for maintaining these protections. They were helped by Kristina Feller (PC). In very many cases they were opposed by the fourth member of the Working Group, our mayor, Susan Cleveland-Knowles. But over the next few months the General Plan draft will now go to City Council for changes. This process begins at this Tuesday's City Council meeting. Unfortunately, we believe these restrictions will be eroded in various ways. The city council may be adding certain language in the General Plan to "satisfy" the community, but also there remains language and tools and loopholes for the property owners and their attorneys to make a legal challenge for changes in their favor. The no land-based housing restriction in the Marinship remains but tools like overlay zones have been included that render that restriction to be very weak.
The Marinship Specific Plan restricts land use to predominately 3 categories: Industrial, Maritime and Artist. Lack of enforcement over the last 30 years has resulted in over 50% office use in the Marinship. Despite the recent pandemic, some push for more office and even a senior housing/care center development. City Council has already voted to eliminate the Marinship Specific Plan but keep the relevant parts. Relevant to who?
Here are some things to watch for:
Inclusion of other new allowable uses that can displace arts and industrial by driving up competition for industrial space...these uses include financial services(including hedge funds) and technology. Financial services were allowed as grandfathered before the Marinship Specific Plan was adopted in 1988. However, that has evolved into a completely allowable use that is not included as an applied art and can therefore be used to displace artist spaces or at least drive up lease rates. The General Plan update indicates that all permitted use will be reviewed during the zoning update starting next year. This is one of the toolsets that city council is trying to use to establish loopholes for the future. This is extremely important because we know any new allowable uses in the Marinship will further drive up lease rates.
More restaurants are allowed with a conditional use permit to meet the needs of Marinship workers, the number of seats to not exceed 20 in the water zone and 40 in the Industrial zone. If these restrictions are not complied with, restaurants will evolve into tourist serving destination and also displace artists, industrial and maritime users..
Housing. Perhaps the greatest threat because it cannot be done on a small scale because of the new state laws. Here is what happened in San Rafael https://www.marinij.com/2019/10/08/san-rafael-approves-6-story-downtown-apartment-building/ . Once the zoning is changed to residential, we lose control to the state. In the Marinship the the owner of the Marina Plaza property seeks to develop up to 300 units on a single parcel. He is lobbying hard for it and our mayor has already come out publicly in support of the project. The property owner shifts his argument from senior housing development to mixed use with luxury units and retail to market rate housing with an allocation to seniors and affordable units to a dementia center for seniors. All the while ignoring sea-level rise, toxic soil contamination, soil liquefaction, subsidence, industrial noise and inadequate evacuation routes for our most vulnerable residents. It will mean a windfall profit for the property owner and his family and it will mean several hundred of our most vulnerable residents in harm's way. The Age Friendly Sausalito task force's own survey, 76% of those seniors surveyed actually plan to stay in their homes as they age, and 74% opined that staying in their homes as they age is very important. As a community it's clear that with creative thinking and strong leadership we CAN support the culture and industry of the Marinship AND provide assets for seniors in the City of Sausalito.
Overlay districts and other tools to change the Marinship. One of the most dangerous of all tools it can be used to gut the Marinship and drive residential and mixed-use development. A mechanism that is often used to by-pass zoning is to include language allowing for overlay zone. For example, this can be used to keep a zone as industrial but allow for a future change to residential if seen fit by City Council.
Eliminating view corridors and other height restrictions as specified in the Marinship Specific Plan would be a red flag for large development projects. Mr. Berg has threatened that if the city does not remove the view corridor designation over his property (Marina Plaza) he may be forced to sue the city. LU-4.5, W-4
Fair Traffic Initial (FTI). This voter initiative was adopted in 1985. It ties commercial development to traffic and is used to limit both. It has certain restrictions like a 32 ft building height. Our mayor has publicly expressed the opinion to review this initiative as part of the General Plan and fund the $30,000 necessary to bring it back to the voters. Do you think people will vote for more traffic?
Thank you from your friends at the Sausalito Working Waterfront Coalition.