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A North Bay City Proposed ‘Waterbased Housing.’ Then Came the Memes

Written by Christina CampodonicoPublished Mar. 09, 2023 • 5:32pm
Colorfully painted house boats in Sausalito | Masci Giuseppe/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With housing incredibly hard to build in the City by the Bay, San Francisco needs to get cracking on construction to meet its share of a state mandate, which calls on cities throughout California to build a total of 2.5 million homes by 2030

Across the Golden Gate in Sausalito, the city recently floated a creative and much-skewered solution to meet the state’s build-or-else Housing Element law: placing new developments on currently underwater sites.

Aspects of the proposed plan, outlined in a salty column by San Francisco Chronicle opinion writer Emily Hoeven earlier this week revealed that Sausalito had pitched constructing up to 35 units on a patch of underwater eelgrass with the “potential for waterbased housing” and developing another significantly inundated site at 100 Spinnaker Drive earlier this year. 

While those specific proposals have been abandoned in a revised housing plan, submitted to the state’s housing department on Feb. 27, Twitter wasted no time in swiftly meme-ifying the proposal with whimsical renderings of aquatic abodes—and YIMBY Law, a pro-housing group, is now suing the city.   

California YIMBY Policy Director Ned Resnikoff posted a picture of Bikini Bottom, the underwater haunt of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants and labeled it as an “artist’s rendering” of a new Sausalito residential district. Resnikoff also likened Sausalito’s idea of building underwater housing to Bart Simpson dreaming up a new life under the sea.    

Other critics continued with the cartoonish comparisons. Kevin Sabellico, VP of political campaign consultancy Amplify Campaigns and a planning commissioner in Carlsbad, cast Sausalito’s Planning Commission as characters from the Adult Swim animated series, Sealab 2021

Another Twitter user posted an image of a scuba diver posting mail. 

The city of Sausalito did not respond to The Standard’s request for comment on the lawsuit or Twitter memes, nor did city representatives comment on whether the picturesque Marin County town was still contemplating construction underwater. According to Hoeven’s reporting, Sausalito’s housing plan still calls for expanding water-based housing

Christina Campodonico can be reached at

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