Sausalito- One of the Bay Area’s best tourist towns

Only a sliver of Sausalito along the coast line is what I consider to be urban. Once you go up the famous hillside, sidewalks and walkability basically disappear. This evaluation is roughly between Napa to the North and Valley to the south.

In the 1870s, Sausalito was connected to reliable rail and ferry service connecting it to San Francisco and setting the stage for future development. By 1940 the town had 3,500 inhabited. Sausalito experienced another growth spurt during WWII as it became a major shipbuilding center. This industrial character, however, quickly gave way to a more wealthy and artistic enclave with new residents taking advantage of its hills and gorgeous location along the sea. This also lead to an increase in tourism. Yet those living on boats and those living on the hills could not live harmoniously forever. Its California! Beginning in the 1970s, an intense struggle erupted between houseboat residents and developers, dubbed the “Houseboat Wars”. Forced removals by county authorities and sabotage by some on the waterfront characterized this struggle. The result was the banishment of all boat communities to just outside the Sausalito limits. Today along three houseboat communities still exist.

From an urban perspective this is a funny mix of great urban attributes and major failures. On the positive side Sausalito has an amazing dining scene and local shops. Shops cater to much more than your typical tourist destination. There are also many art galleries here, all set along a beautiful bay and relatively comfortable commercial district. Sausalito’s biggest failure is its exclusivity. Small condos start at 600K and there are few rentals here. Racial and economic diversity is also limited. The hills quickly rise from the sea making an urban environment difficult for much of the City. Public transit access to Dwtn San Fran is also not great.

Click here to view my Sausalito album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* A decent bike lane running down Bridgeway but not dedicated bike stations.
* Good generational diversity with about 40% of households as family ones.
* Very nice waterfront and several attractive smaller parks. Golden Gate View Park is only 1/2 south but only car and bike access.
* Great cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars & cafes, tons of art galleries, a couple theaters, a couple local museums and some live music and night clubs.
* Several excellent schools but located .5 miles to a mile from the walkable part of Sausalito in or near Marina City. Not terribly walkable.
* Some great retail amenities many boutiques, home goods stores, antique stores, souvenir shops, and specialty retail and a drug store, hardware store, and post office.
*  A good amount of petty thefts but limited major crimes. Overall very safe place.
* Excellent architecture both historic and new.
* Generally very good urban form but still a good amount of surface  parking lots.
* Very vibrant with all the tourists.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent access to San Francisco, especially driving. One can also drive to Oakland in 45 mins but generally lot great public transit access.
* With all the hills and circular roads, not great connectivity in Sausalito.
* Very expensive place to live with medium rent at $2,600.
* Poor racial and economic diversity.
* Some 1-bedroom condos starting around 600K. But most selling in the low 1 Millions. 2-beds sell anywhere btwn the low 1 Ms and low 2Ms. 3 & 4 bedrooms sell for btwn mid 1Ms and mid 2Ms.
* Leases are very limited. Some 2-bedrooms rent btwn 3K-5K. 3-beds for even more.
* No supermarket in dwtn Sausalito.
* Generally pretty walkable but lots of hills and missing ADA curbs.

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