Our discussion of the Sausalto Highlands Conservation Easement will cover four things:
- A definition of the Sausalito Highlands.
- How a Conservation Easement Protects Land Permanently
- The parcels that the Conservation Easement covers.
- The Sausalito Highlands’ value to wildlife.
Defining the Sausalito Highlands
The Sausalito Highlands
The 50 acres Sausalito Highlands runs from the Saucelito Creek Wildlife Refuge (labeled as Lincoln/Butte Parcel in the map) in the north to the Cypress Ridge Open Space Preserve and Spring Valley to the south. It includes property managed by the non-profit Open Space Sausalito (the SCWR), the city-owned Cypress Ridge Open Space Preserve, and private, undeveloped property in Spring Valley. These two regions are connected by a Wildlife Corridor containing many animal trails as shown on the map above. This Wildlife Corridor includes the Caltrans right of way that runs alongside Highway 101, the undeveloped PG&E Easement parcel adjacent to the substation, three city-owned open space parcels that connect the PG&E Easement parcel with the Caltrans right of way, and land that runs alongside Lincoln Drive including animal trails that cut across Willow Creek Academy.
The Wildlife Corridor
How a Conservation Easement Protects Land Permanently
If land is open space that means it has been zoned as open space as opposed to zoned for single family housing or multi-family housing. Thus, it cannot be developed as long as it remains zoned as open space. Zoning designations, however, can be changed at any time so open space land is not permanently protected.
A Conservations Easement (CE), on the other hand, means the landowner has agreed to have certain restrictions placed on the land, such as that it not be developed. The restrictions remain in place even after the land is sold to a new owner; it “runs with the land.” To enforce the restrictions, the landowner, or Grantor, must grant a watchdog agency such as a land trust or government agency (the Grantee), the right to oversee the land. The Grantee’s role is to ensure that the restrictions described in the CE are respected. To do this, the Grantee monitors the property on a regular basis (typically once per year). If necessary, the Grantee is responsible for taking legal action to enforce the CE.
CEs are voluntary legal agreements. As with other real property interests, the grant of a CE is recorded with the County Recorder and becomes a part of the chain of title for the property.
We propose a Conservation Easement for City-owned land on the Sausalito Highlands for the purpose of keeping a promise. Specifically, the City’s promise to its citizens that Cypress Ridge and some of the adjacent land be preserved as open space.
After the City of Sausalito purchased Cypress Ridge in 1976, it was zoned as open space, a zoning designation that can easily be changed. We propose now to put a CE on Cypress Ridge and its adjacent land to buttress and protect that original promise.
The Conservation Easement Parcels
The proposed conservation easement is concerned with eight city owned open space parcels.
The Eight Conservation Easement Parcels
|Parcel Number||Owner||Zoning||Land Use||Acres||Slope||Description|
|064-133-05||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||2.27||32.1%||Lower Cypress Ridge|
|064-181-40||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||9.69||37.4%||Upper Cypress Ridge|
|064-133-01||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||0.64||25.3%||Access Road parcel|
|064-181-18||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||0.26||40.3%||Small parcel near freeway|
|064-181-21||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||1.81||43.9%||Large parcel between Spring Street Valley and freeway|
|064-334-12||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||0.23||51.6%||Eastern wildlife corridor parcel|
|064-334-18||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||0.09||34.0%||Middle wildlife corridor parcel|
|064-334-24||City of Sausalito||Open Space||80 Tax Exempt||0.07||65.2%||Kendell Court wildlife corridor parcel|
These parcels fall into four groups:
- The two parcels that make up the Cypress Ridge Open Space Preserve.
- The parcel that contains the only usable pedestrian access road into the Cypress Ridge Open Space Preserve.
- Two additional parcels adjacent to the Cypress Ridge Open Space Preserve.
- The three Wildlife Corridor parcels.
You can click on the Next buttons at the bottom of the Parcel Pages to walk through these four parcel groups for maps, descriptions, and noteworthy points. The last parcel page links to Ecological Value.
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All donations made at our partner’s website, openspacesausalito.org, will fund this project until its $9,000 budget is met or until December 31, 2021, whichever is first.