Commodore 11 is a just-finished renovation of a two-story floating fourplex, now containing four jewel-like studios. Every decision, from design through construction, was made based on providing the most beautiful, safe, efficient, and long-lasting ownership and living experience possible.
Each studio takes full advantage of exquisitely beautiful unobstructed views across the Bay towards San Francisco and the Tiburon Peninsula. Your wrap-around cedar deck invites you to take long moments appreciating your good fortune at living on the water, and taking deep breaths of the fresh sea breeze. The clouds, water, and wildlife weave a never-ending spell-binding tapestry. No wonder Otis Redding, relaxing in a nearby Sausalito spot, was inspired to write “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”!
Gotta seaplane? Land and dock it right next to your Commodore 11 property OR charter a helicopter from any Bay Area airport to the working heliport just down the street. You’re just 5 minutes to the Golden Gate Bridge by car, and Marin Airporter and Golden Gate Transit stops are practically next door.
Each unit includes its own washer/dryer, a full kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances and custom-built walnut cabinets. Heated bathroom tiles and new oak flooring add a cozy luxury touch. Energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint are assured by all-electric Energy Star appliances, including individual ductless heat/air pumps and shared rooftop solar panels. Built-in Sonos speakers combine with soundproofing construction techniques like poured concrete subfloors and triple insulated walls to make each unit its own island of solitude.
But getting it built was anything but an easy undertaking. It took six long years of navigating one frustrating obstacle after another. The first was a “Boat on Street” problem.
Boats on Streets
When California became a state in 1850, the cash-strapped State Legislature started selling California’s tidelands. In 1875, one buyer, the Saucelito Land & Ferry Company, drew up a subdivision map showing lots available to the public. The plan was to fill in all of Marin County’s Richardson’s Bay, creating a West Coast Venice with canals connecting the Sausalito and Strawberry shores.
Fortunately, in 1879, a backlash against the sell-off forced a new provision in the state Constitution forbidding such sales. The subdivisions never happened and much later, in the 1960s, floating home marinas on these tidelands were allowed to be built, with one important constraint: no floating homes could be berthed on top of any underwater street. Unfortunately, over the years, part of Commodore 11 had come to be berthed about 10 feet over one of those streets, a ‘paper’ street that existed only on a century old subdivision map for a failed subdivision scheme. Legally, Commodore 11 was a “Boat on a Street.”
That meant no work could be started until the Marin County Planning Department approved not only our 10-foot move, but comprehensive plans for ALL the renovation. In addition to requiring an architect and someone to survey the underwater street, there was a gigantic gotcha: to move the boat, the approval of no less than 7 other regional, state and federal agencies would be required, including the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the California Dept of Fish and Wildlife, the California State Lands Commission, the California Coastal Commission, the Regional Water Quality
Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. All that to create a plan for floating a houseboat 10 feet over. It took two years to get plan approvals from all seven agencies AND the Planning Dept. But that was only step one. For the next two years, our future was in the hands of the BUILDING Dept. Finally, after nearly two more years, the plans were approved.
Then, just as construction got going, COVID hit. Contractors and Subcontractors experienced work stoppages and delays. At one point, a house-moving company had to be hired to lift the wooden superstructure of the concrete barge, so the original, smaller concrete barge could be removed. No activities related to moving the boat could be done during salmon migration seasons. By mid-2020, the supply chain calamity meant work on portions of the project stopped for weeks and months! County inspectors took longer to grant their interim approvals.
But we persevered and in mid-May 2022, we received the County’s final greenlight, a Certificate of Occupancy. We could hardly believe we’d made it! Standing back and looking at the finished, turnkey, ready-to-move-in floating home, we had to agree it was worth it.
This exclusive Mill Valley, CA houseboat community is small and intimate, consisting of just eleven properties. It is, however, part of the much larger houseboat community located in north Sausalito, just a short trip down the bike path heading south towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco beyond. Sausalito also hosts a large yachting community, many fine restaurants and excellent hotels, and has frequent ferryboat service directly to the San Francisco financial district.