The following letter has been sent to the Sausalito City Council in anticipation of their hearing on February 9th, to review and adopt the final General Plan Update.
Dear Sausalito City Councilmembers,
Community Venture Partners, Inc. (“CVP”) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports community-based projects, programs, and initiatives that demonstrate the highest principles of economic, social, and environmental sustainability. CVP is committed to the need for a transparent public process that incorporates under-served community voices into planning and government decision-making. We are writing on behalf of Patricia Zuch, John Flavin, and other Sausalito residents who have asked us for assistance.
As you are no doubt aware, California state law requires horizontal consistency of all parts of the General Plan. In reviewing the Final Sausalito General Plan Update, it appears that the development projections in the City’s Land Use Elements are not consistent with the policies in its Sustainability/Climate Change Mitigation and Resiliency Element, because the former allows for growth in areas subject to sea level rise, flooding, increased subsidence, failing infrastructure, for which mitigation may never be feasible.
For example, according to The Sausalito General Plan Update’s Sustainability Element, Page S-5, “BayWAVE projects that Marin County could experience 10 inches of sea level rise by 2030, 20 inches by 2050, and 60 inches by 2100. Sea level rise will exacerbate the impacts of other coastal hazards, such as storms, flooding, and erosion.” The Sustainability Element goes on to say,
“BayWAVE’s estimates show Sausalito with as much as 149 acres, or 11 percent of the City’s land area, exposed by the end of the century. This would include most of the industrial land in Sausalito, which could lead to serious financial problems – particularly as many of those industrial sites may require expensive cleanup in order to prevent contaminants from entering Richardson Bay. Sea level rise could be understood as an existential issue for Sausalito.” [Emphasis added]
Yet at the same time, Land Use Element Policies LU-3 and LU-4 expressly call for promoting new marine industrial uses, new shoreline marinas, new boatyards, at a time when the evidence suggests that major parts of the Marinship will be under as much as 3 feet of water in 10 years and almost 4 feet of water in 20 years, during a normal, winter, king tide, when sea level rise and ongoing land subsidence is factored in. This is a material internal inconsistency.
State Planning & Zoning Law, a City’s General Plan and all its separate elements must "comprise an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of policies.” Gov’t Code 65300.5. A General Plan whose elements are in conflict with one another violates this internal consistency requirement and is therefore invalid. Furthermore, a general plan may “fall so far behind changing local conditions that the County will fail to fulfill an implied statutory duty to keep its general plan current.” DeVita v. County of Napa (1995) 9 Cal.4th 763, 792, citing Garat, supra, 2 Cal.App.4th at 296, fn. 28. “Local agencies must periodically review and revise their general plans as circumstances warrant . . ..” Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Bd of Supervisors (1990) 52 Cal. 3d 553, 572. If a general plan is inconsistent or inadequate due to a failure to keep it current, and there is a nexus between its inadequacies and inconsistencies and the geographic areas implicated in a proposed general plan amendment, the agency must prepare a general plan update before approval of a project. Garat, supra, 2 Cal.App.4th at 299, 303.
Bob Silvestri is a Marin County resident and the founder and president of Community Venture Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization funded only by individuals in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. Please consider DONATING TO CVP to enable us to continue to work on behalf of Marin residents.