Golden Gate Bridge at Night, 2007

Living in the North Bay Area

Golden Gate Bridge at Night, 2007
Golden Gate Bridge, 2007 (click to enlarge)

Having lived here for 5 months, I’m finding the small town of Sausalito and the surrounding area to be a fascinating place to live. Manhattan Beach was very cookie cutter. Everybody was so much the same. Sausalito, filled with character and characters, is anything but!

City Manager
A few weeks back I had the opportunity to attend a get together at the former mayor’s house. She had invited the City Manager, a member of the City Council, and the Fire Chief. It was an informational get together about town politics. I was very impressed with these elected officials, especially their commitment to keeping Sausalito economically diverse-specifically, making certain that everyone living here can always afford to continue to live here. (Sausalito has an interesting, historic boathouse community living on the water.) Their commitment to this goal was determined, personal and genuine. Kudos!

Property Values
Property values are insane in the San Francisco Bay Area. With the Facebook IPO about to go down, an already hot real estate market is sizzling out of control. Inventory in the Bay Area is ridiculously limited. Building is so restricted in desirable areas that only existing structures or heavily regulated tear downs and rebuilds are available. And there are many exceedingly wealthy people living in the area. I know of one multi-million dollar home (think small) that is in foreclosure. It is currently being rented as a weekend retreat by a man paying $45,000 a month. No, I didn’t misplace the comma! I just don’t know what to say about that!

Vibrant and Colorful Artists’ Community
In general, the local people are amazingly friendly here in Sausalito. I’m not accustomed to this.

Peter is a local guy who, on the weekends, can often be found, with his dachshund, sitting where the ferry docks and people come and go into downtown Sausalito. He chats freely with folks and occasionally plays his guitar and sings, sometimes with his dog singing along. I ran into him at the local supermarket checkout line this week. His dog was quietly watching life go by while sitting inside Peter’s satchel in the grocery cart.  Apparently they travel everywhere together and are rather well known by the locals as everyone said goodbye to them, by name, as they left the grocery store. While in line, I commented on how subdued the dog was. Peter, with his colorful, friendly personality and totally funky leather hat said, as he rubbed the dogs head, “Yes. Yes. Poor thing. Quite sad, really. A victim of fetal alcohol syndrome, I’m afraid.” I have no idea if he was serious or not. The local market is an amazing snapshot of life in Sausalito.

Yesterday, when returning to the headlands from the city, the traffic came to all but a grinding stop approaching the Golden Gate Bridge. The blinking sign at the entrance of the bridge read, “Warning, Car Stopped.” About a third of the way over the bridge a blinking emergency vehicle was stopped in the outside lane. Numerous (maybe a dozen?) emergency personnel were clumped along the outer railing of the pedestrian walkway along with dozens of pedestrians. Everyone was looking over the 250+ foot drop to the treacherous waters below. Apparently, someone had just chosen to jump to his/her death.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to talk with several members of the bay area coast guard. One of their duties is “body recovery” below the bridge. They said they average about 60 recovery attempts per year–that’s 5 people committing suicide by jumping off the bridge every month. Very, very sad to me.

I’ve mentioned a time or two how “vigorous” the weather is here–more so than any place I’ve every lived. Micro-climates abound. My favorite weather occurrence is the intense fog that blasts over the headlands, through gulches, across the front yard, over the bridge, puddles in the bays, hovers over the various islands, rises and sinks as if it’s dancing to music… I can not wait to shoot numerous time lapses of the fog around the bridge area. The fog horns, the lighthouses, the coolness by the water, the choppy bay, the treacherous currently, the marine life… all nestled between one of the world’s great cities and 65,000 acres of unspoiled, dramatic, ocean-front coastline. Wow! Loving living here.