Cypress Ridge is 15 acres of city-owned open space centrally located within Sausalito between Spring Street Valley and Nevada Valley. A five minute uphill walk takes one from Rodeo Avenue to a large grassy plateau with excellent views of Angel Island and Mount Tam. Beyond that is a large Eucalyptus grove, a Coast Chaparral plant community, and an immense oak woodland that is teeming with wildlife. We propose permanently protecting this land with a conservation easement. What will that do and why should we do it?
A CONSERVATION EASEMENT ON CYPRESS RIDGE
- WILL conserve in perpetuity 15 acres of city-owned open space lands within Sausalito.
- WILL protect and preserve a long established habitat for over 100 wildlife species and their access to a year-round water source.
- WILL reconfirm the express will of residents who voted overwhelmingly in 1976 to acquire Cypress Ridge as a buffer against high density development.
- WILL help sustain Sausalito’s fragile and unique balance of man-made and natural environment.
- WILL NOT require any additional land purchases, new or additional taxes, fees, property reassessments, or zoning changes.
The following organizations support our proposal to protect Cypress Ridge with a conservation easement:
- Marin Audubon Society
- Marin Biodiversity Corridor Initiative
- Marin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society
- Marin Conservation League
- Marin Group of the Sierra Club
FACTS ABOUT CYPRESS RIDGE
In 1976, Sausalito’s ballot Measure E acquired Cypress Ridge for $560,000 ($2.6 million today). The bond measure passed overwhelmingly with 68.3% of the vote (Sausalito Marin Scope, 6/15/1976), and Sausalito citizens agreed to pay for it with a 20-year increase in their property taxes. The bond was paid off on time. Measure E stopped the American Savings and Loan Association from going ahead with a 56 unit housing project with expansion up to 211 units likely (Sausalito Marin Scope, 5/25/1976).
Measure E both directed the City to purchase 15 acres on Cypress Ridge for permanent preservation, and it preserved the Cypress Ridge area as a whole for future generations. Despite this protection, repeated attempts have been made to develop Cypress Ridge by ignoring Measure E. This includes the 2011 housing element where 25 units were proposed to be built over the pedestrian access road at Cypress Ridge and the current 2023 housing element. A conservation easement will clearly delineate the land that is protected and tie this protection to the land deeds so it will be both highly visible and irrevocable. A conservation easement runs with the land, not with the ownership, so even if the City sold the property the uses would remain the same and no development could occur.
Now let’s look at some reasons why Cypress Ridge should be protected.
Cypress Ridge is an ecologically rich habitat, a nesting or migration site for over 100 species of birds, and a home to countless mammals and reptiles. It has an abundance of California native plants that support our butterfly and bee populations. This biodiversity has been documented in two 1976 field studies at Cypress Ridge, a plant survey by the California Native Plant Society and a bird survey by the Marin Audubon Society, and in two extensive biological surveys done in the area in the last decade by Prunuske Chatham and Jennifer Berry.
Cypress Ridge is a fantastic place for daytime hiking or enjoying lunch while taking in its marvelous views of Angel Island, Richardson Bay, and Mount Tam. It is the only open space in Sausalito east of highway 101 where people can go for a walk, and it is convenient enough for a lunchtime visit.
The Sausalito 2040 General Plan designates Cypress Ridge as one of four open space sites in the City, stating that the City has a long-term commitment to its open space sites, and that open space is not to be used for residential housing. The Plan also “calls for the preservation of ridgelines and the upper slopes of ridges”. It specifically cites Cypress Ridge as one of four ridgelines that should be preserved.
The Plan further says that Sausalito’s Green Corridor, part of which lies on Cypress Ridge, is a wildlife corridor and, thus, a sensitive natural resource important for sustaining species.
In summary, the best use for Cypress Ridge is its current use, a home for wildlife and a daytime hiking site.
If you are convinced that a conservation easement on Cypress Ridge is worthwhile and wish to make a donation, click on the donate button and select a payment option.