SAUSALITO'S WORKHORSE: THE MARINSHIP
We are all familiar with the thriving working waterfront community of trades and craftspeople, artists and artisans, inventors, fabricators, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, shipbuilders, and an endless array of light industrial and micro-manufacturing businesses and services providers that comprise Sausalito's Marinship.
But did you know Sausalito's Marinship light industrial and maritime revenues far exceed tourism revenue for Sausalito? That the Marinship accounts for 41% of Sausalito’s overall commercial tax revenues? That the Marinship generates 53% of the entire City’s business property tax revenues? The Marinship's working waterfront and its maritime and light industrial zoning provide economic diversity that keeps revenue flowing to City Hall. The Marinship is gritty because that's what a working waterfront looks like; it looks like hard work, sweat, and production. It does NOT look like rental bikes, snow globes, coffee kiosks, Fisherman's Wharf, or luxury condo skyscrapers.
As Sausalito prepares its Cycle 6 Housing Element, it will be important to balance the need for 740 new units of housing (Sausalito's currently projected RHNA quota) against preservation of Sausalito's robust and thriving maritime industries. Some ask if we could have both housing and light industrial zoning in the Marinship. The Marinship is toxic from WW II manufacturing. This toxicity does not interfere with light industrial / maritime business use, but it could pose challenges for land-based housing. It'd also cost millions to make the Marinship housing-safe. Who's paying for it?
Even after toxic "clean up", such sites may retain residual toxins. This happens time and again. Sad examples include Treasure Island's housing (radioactive isotopes, Cesium -137, Radium -226, and Thorium-232) and Hunter's Point housing (Navy contractor Tetra Tech falsified soil samples to indicate they were safe). Treasure Island residents are suing the City of SAN FRANCISCO and contractors for $6 BILLION. We need to avoid this future in Sausalito.
Water-based live-work housing could be an elegant solution to this quandary. Mitigation of the unavoidable impacts of sea level rise and subsidence will be nearly impossible and prohibitively expensive. Adaptation reduces vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Adaptation alters "business as usual" decisions to account for impending changes. Providing water-based live-work housing could create housing for our marine and industrial workers right where they work, while avoiding impacts of sea level rise and subsidence, maintaining Sausalito's unique history, and preserving its economic diversity, middle class employment base, and critical revenues for city services.
On a parallel path forward, we need to create tangible incentives to invite investment by property owners and to entice third party investors to support the Marinship's core economy. Preservation does not mean doing nothing, which will encourage further stagnation. The Sausalito Working Waterfront proposes that we designate the Marinship working waterfront as an enterprise or innovation zone: a designated area where policies to encourage economic growth and business development are codified. Such an approach has been successful elsewhere including the rehabilitation of Port Everett in Washington, New Jersey's "Urban Enterprise Program," and other programs in Colorado and Ohio. An enterprise zone has myriad tools available to finance the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the costs of adapting to climate change. And substantial grant monies are available to support such an effort: 2020 EDA Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs, FEMA's Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program, the National Science Foundation's Civil Infrastructure Systems grants program, HUD's Strong Cities, Strong Communities program, the Environmental Protection Agency's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation funding, to name just a few.
Now is NOT the time to lose Sausalito's greatest cash cow - The Marinship.
Many thanks to the Sausalito Working Waterfront, Bob Silvestri, Sausalito's Historical Society, Knapp&VerPlanck, Preservation Architects, and other concerned businesses and residents for their efforts to enunciate the history, challenges and possible solutions for Sausalito's Marinship, some of which are set forth in the following links:
And here is a link to Sausalito's General Plan process where we are confronting these challenges right now: