Sausalito moves toward renovating the donated home

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

The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to direct city employees to find an architect to develop renovation plans for the home. The city will use reserve funds to fund construction.

The home’s previous owner, Dorothy Gibson, donated the 1,200-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath home to the city upon her death at 429 1/2 Johnson St. The home is chartered and must be listed as housing for low- and middle-income people Full-time city employees, including first responders, serve.

The council has also considered providing at least one apartment to a person in transitional accommodation using the Marin Housing Authority’s voucher scheme as part of a pilot scheme. This person would also be in an employment program with the city.

Improvements under consideration include a first-floor restroom that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act; the installation of a bedroom on the second floor; and a possible conversion of a ground floor garage into living space. The city said the home with the improvements could house two or three low- to middle-income homes. One of the apartments could be considered as a secondary residence or junior residence.

Public works director Kevin McGowan said the works could also include updating the electrical system and adding kitchenettes on the lower level of the home. He said ADA updates are also required on the outside staircase for occupancy to be allowed there.

A home inspection conducted in April 2021 revealed that additional work may be needed to the roof, siding, stove and deck.

Construction costs are estimated at $167,812.50. The plan is expected to take three to six months to develop.

Councilor Jill Hoffman said she reached out to the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, and Sausalito Beautiful to see how they could help with construction.

“I would expect that we would get help from our community to lower the cost of construction,” she said.

Vice Mayor Melissa Blaustein urged the council to consider grants or other options to help fund it.

The city’s real estate manager, Mike Wagner, said he had looked at financing options through banks, but the project’s estimated cost was underestimated. He said the expenses associated with securing funding would be prohibitively expensive.

The city estimated market rent at $5,000 to $6,000 per month. Since the home must be low-income, the city expects monthly earnings to be between $1,650 and $1,980.

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

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