Sherman R. Frederick
Is it too much to attempt to update Sausalito’s General Plan in the Age of Coronavirus?
Most people think so, if last week’s special meeting of the town’s City Council is any indication.
The council held a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, to incorporate some last-minute changes to the draft General Plan. The update to the plan has been ongoing for about the last three years.
City staff recommended the Council green-light the latest objectives (primarily centering around sustainability, social justice and age-friendly issues) and have the consultant incorporate into the General Plan. Staff recommended the public be given ample time to review and comment on the final plan.
The council unanimously accepted those recommendations and directed staff to come back with a plan for more public input.
Members of the public who spoke at this meeting minced no words about what they thought of the process.
“This general plan which is supposed to be our roadmap for the next 20 years needs more work,” Susan Shea told the council. “I’d like you to think about leaving this alone until after the election.”
A flashpoint centered on the idea of allowing senior housing in Marinship, a post-war part of Sausalito that has become part industrial and part art community.
Jann Johnson told the council that pushing senior housing in the Marinship is “unconscionable.” She told the Council that the city’s consultants are “inserting things” at the last minute. “This is gastly,” she said and advised the Council to delay everything until after the election when “we will have fresh blood on the Council.”
“The last place you want to put a residential building is in Marinship,” she added.
Kay Carlson told the council during the Zoom meeting that “I’m shocked at the speed that this is going” and accused Mayor Susan Cleveland-Knowles of being “disconnected” from Marinship. “You are not seeing the incredible community there. I beg you to slow this process down.”
Carlson also complained that she emailed the mayor and invited her to Marinship but never heard back. The mayor apologized later in the meeting saying she had been slammed with email and she will take up Carlson on the invite.
Sandra Bushmaker, in her three minutes, said “I am thoroughly confused now. The public needs more time” not only with the General Plan but also with the environmental impact study.
Alice Merril said “I am so discouraged.”
Paul Dines, a small businessman in Sausalito, summed up what appeared to be a theme with citizenry frustrated with dealing with such a big issue during COVID-19 restrictions.
The council needs to “account for the difficulties that COVID has brought, he said, adding “The public needs extra time to review and comment.”
Mayor Cleveland-Knowles told staff to come up with a plan that will allow more public input on the final General Plan. But, she said she didn’t want the process to drag on for a “long time.”
Council Member Joan Cox echoed that and she wants the process wrapped up “before the election.”
(Sherman R. Frederick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)