Sausalito heads for donated home renovation

Sausalito will hire an architect to undertake a $200,000 renovation of a home bequeathed to the city.

The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to order city staff to find an architect to come up with renovation plans for the house. The city will use reserve funds to fund construction.

The home’s former owner, Dorothy Gibson, donated the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 1,200-square-foot home at 429 1/2 Johnson St. to the city after her death. The house is under deed restrictions and is to be used as low-to-moderate income housing for full-time city employees, including first responders.

The council has also considered providing at least one residence under a pilot scheme to someone in transitional housing using the Marin Housing Authority’s voucher scheme. This person would also be in an employment program with the city.

Improvements being considered include a first-floor restroom compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; the development of a bedroom on the second floor; and a possible conversion of a garage on the ground floor into habitable space. The city said that with the upgrades, the house could accommodate two or three low-to-moderate income apartments. One of the apartments may be considered a secondary suite or a junior secondary suite.

Director of Public Works Kevin McGowan said work could also include updating the electrical system and adding kitchenettes to the lower level of the house. He said ADA updates would also be required on exterior stairs for occupancy to be permitted there.

A home inspection performed in April 2021 indicated that additional work may be required on the roof, siding, furnace and deck.

The construction cost is estimated at $167,812.50. Developing the plan should take three to six months.

Council member Jill Hoffman said she contacted the Rotary Club, Lions Club and Sausalito Beautiful to find out how they could help with the construction.

“I would expect us to get help from our community to reduce construction costs,” she said.

Vice Mayor Melissa Blaustein urged council to seek grants or other options to help with funding.

City real estate manager Mike Wagner said he explored financing options through banks, but the estimated cost of the project was too low. He said the expenses associated with obtaining funding would be prohibitively expensive.

The city estimated the market rate rent at between $5,000 and $6,000 per month. Because the house must be low-income, the city expects to receive between $1,650 and $1,980 per month.

Gibson, author and social worker, died in 2019 at the age of 95.

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