Sausalito refines priorities for seeking project funding

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Infrastructure, climate change, housing and homelessness are some of the main target areas the Sausalito City Council hopes to address with grants.

City Manager Chris Zapata asked council members for priorities to guide the development of a comprehensive list of projects that could be aided by potential grants from state, federal and local sources.

“The real key for us is to put our minds together with yours and try not to miss anything important,” Zapata said.

The issue was placed on the agenda for the February 15 council meeting to fuel the public debate on priorities. Zapata also collects recommendations from department heads, according to a staff report. All recommendations are intended to be merged to develop target areas for grant solicitation.

In October, city leaders asked Zapata to seek grant-writing resources. City consultant Muchmore and Associates coordinated the hiring of a grants research, writing and administration firm and two on-call grant writers who are awaiting the list of priorities, according to the staff report. . The cost of the services has not yet been determined, pending the projects selected.

Zapata said he hopes to return in March with a more organized set of priorities based on board direction.

The council asked city staff to compile their preferences and see where they overlapped. A preliminary list identified housing, homelessness, streets, disaster preparedness, parks, public safety and water resources as key topics.

Mayor Janelle Kellman discussed developing a matrix of council priorities and potential grants available in those areas. Council also said it was receptive to the development of a new plan to guide spending priorities and city projects that incorporated grant priorities.

“In many areas, we first have to develop the plan, and then we have to get funds to actually carry it out. And the next step, I think, is we have to evaluate everything for something that we can actually achieve,” said board member Susan Cleveland-Knowles. “I would like to focus on some of the things that we started but didn’t get the ball going.”

Council member Ian Sobieski said he hoped the grant writers could develop a “business case” with their proposals. He suggested they look for “low-hanging fruits” and “easy money” first.

“We should be directing our energies where we’re most likely going to win,” Sobieski said.

Sobieski identified sea level rise and infrastructure among his main goals. He also suggested the development of a “sophisticated urban plan” as part of the infrastructure development plan.

“We could be an urban planning gem,” he said. “If we got there, it would be decisive.”

Much of the public commentary was critical of the city’s handling of its spending priorities, particularly regarding the city-run camp for the homeless at Marinship Park.

“We need to stop paying people, consultants, all that crazy big money,” said Peter Romanowsky, who lives on a boat anchored in Richardson Bay. “I am a minimalist.”

Vicki Nichols, chair of the Sausalito Historic Preservation Commission, said she would be willing to work with staff to find grants for their work.

“We would like to explore grants in this area,” she said.

Many of the council’s suggestions overlapped.

Vice Mayor Melissa Blaustein discussed climate change; disaster preparedness; technological innovation; develop an application for the city; equity programs; diversity and equity training for staff and board; Infrastructure; and housing.

Council member Jill Hoffman said the plan should include a “vision” for the housing element, which included going beyond meeting state minimums.

Kellman said grant writers should be flexible about how they apply for funds. She said the grants could be creatively applied in the city, depending on where they come from.

The goals are intended to be consistent with Sausalito’s 2020 strategic plan, which lists improving fiscal resilience as a goal.

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