Perennial planting on newly paved path

The new landscape – plantings along a newly paved path

A Rebirth for Waldo Point’s Houseboat Community

Still standing after over one hundred years, Sausalito’s Waldo Point Harbor sits proudly on the San Francisco Bay.  It is located off Bridgeway at the north end of Sausalito.

Yesterday’s exposed electrical wires and other safety hazards is being replaced with beauty and order.  Waldo Point’s Houseboat Community now boasts a new sea wall. The land was raised upwards of 4 feet! 

There is fresh new paving. Brand new landscaping with grass, well-mulched planter beds and robust perennials. 

Gardeners’ Guild has been involved in the landscape installation portion of the project over the last few years.  Being a part of Waldo Point’s transformation has been immensely gratifying for us. Because of its historic significance we wanted to pass along the story of Waldo Point.  Its colorful history and the events leading to its renewal.

As of the posting of this blog, the project is in its final phase of completion. The photos below show it in progress. Future updates will include final photos.

Key Project Players

Dan Hughes, DVC Group
Civil Engineer, project management
Betsy Clark, Landscape Architect
Designed landscape
Cats 4 U
Site construction work
Gardeners’ Guild Installed landscape

A Storied Past
The houseboat community’s history has been well chronicled Look Magazine, Smithsonian, The New York Times and San Francisco’s local media.

Known as a haven for artists and bohemians, Waldo Point’s popularity surged after the WWII and peaked in the 60’s. It was colorful if chaotic.  Homes constructed from abandoned boats and shared electricity offered hippie squatters a place to indulge in creative self expression without the constraints of societal norms. 
Parties were notoriously loud, and the drugs psychedelic.

Example of shared and dangerous electrical wiring

Shared electrical wires

The 1970’s –  A Turning Point
Reality in the form of City Hall – came knocking.
Building code violations, sewage, shared electrical wires and other safety hazards signaled a turning point in the community’s fortunes.

City officials ordered the community to invest in repairs.  Indignant, the residents were defiant.  Bitter clashes ensued.  Two long decades would pass before urgently needed remedial work would be approved. 

And, as time passed Waldo Point’s demographics were quietly changing.
By the year 2000, it was a different community that soberly acknowledged their dangerous infrastructure and took action.

Flooded Parking Lot

Before Photo – A flooded parking lot

The Floating Home Association is Born
The newly formed resident’s organization began meeting with local officials and professionals to plan for badly needed improvements.
At this point their project was guided by stringent requirements laid out by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

Rising Sea Level and Sinking Land
Flooded parking lot at least once a year.  See photo above.
At times flooding could sometimes flow toward Bridgeway, a main Sausalito artery.
Drainage problems resulted from salt water leakage into storm drains, corroding underground utility lines
Causing unsanitary conditions

Dangerous Infrastructure
Many houseboats were not up to code
Numerous safety hazards
Exposed electrical wires along the decks made walking hazardous
Ramshackle docks were in danger of falling

No Landscaping
The residents wanted trees, plants and grass to soften the look of asphalt.
An attractive landscape would provide needed visual interest for both residents and visitors. 

4 Foot Seawall was Constructed
Elevated the parking lot mitigating the threat of flooding

Raised the Grade Level of the Land
Requiring an enormous quantity of soil. And, a special blend of soil. There were weight restrictions so that soil wouldn’t become dislodged from bay mud underneath
Bottom layer – crushed lava rock over bay mud
Second layer – custom blended lightweight soil that had to be trucked in
Decomposed granite for pathways

Landscape Installation Included
Soil amending
Trees and shrubs
Lawn that was a special blend of native grasses
Site furnishings
Trellises and fencing

Birds-eye view of the Waldo project in progress
Crushed lava rock - bottom layer above bay mud

Shows crushed lava rock trucked in as first layer


No flooding after a recent King tide 
Much happy feedback from residents who enjoy the new landscaping
One quote from houseboat owner: “I can’t believe we have this beautiful garden!”
Brand new paved parking lot which easily accommodates residents
Photo below illustrates new lawn installation in Waldo Point Park

New turgrass installed in the Waldo Point Park

Waldo Point Park New Turfgrass

San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule

San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule

The passage of Proposition E last November, was welcome news for San Francisco property owners.
There is, however, a lengthy start up period as San Francisco’s street tree maintenance implementation doesn’t begin until 2019.
Depending on the type, health or age of the tree, waiting until that time could be problematic.

Consider That Trees Should be Evaluated Annually

It is ideal to have an Arborist evaluate a tree’s condition and advise if pruning is necessary.
Generally, some trees may need annual pruning. Others bi-annually and others an “as needed” basis.

Reasons for pruning a tree.

  • Maintain its health
    • Reduce risk of failure from dead or weak branches
    • Improve tree structure
    • Save a storm or wind damaged tree
  • Safety
    • Provide clearance
    • Mitigate risk that weak branches could fall
  • Other reasons

    • Improve aesthetics
    • Manage flower or fruit production

San Francisco’s Responsibility – A snapshot

Effective as of July 1st

San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Responsibility Includes
Maintaining all San Francisco street trees within The City limits
Any sidewalk repair due to tree root damage
Any injuries and property damage resulting from failure to maintain the trees

Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule Order of Priority
First – trees in decline or that pose safety threats. This work is expected to last two years.
Routine pruning schedule will be posted July 2018
Routine pruning will not start until 2019
Trees will be subsequently scheduled for pruning every 3-5 years.

Any tree pruning requests from The City prior to July 1st. The property owner is responsible for that work.
Sidewalk repair not due to tree roots.

San Francisco’s Urban Forest Vision

Proposition E, the ordinance describing The City’s street tree maintenance program is Phase I of an overall vision for growing San Francisco’s Urban Forest.
It was a collaboration of SF Public Works, and Friends of the Urban Forest
Trees were inventoried and placed on a map

Friends of the Urban Forest highlights their goals as

  • Increase The City’s street trees by 50%. There are currently 125,000 street trees.
  • Improve maintenance efficiency and effectiveness
  • Ensure a more equitable distribution of trees throughout San Francisco’s neighborhoods

If You Choose to not Wait Until 2019 for Routine Street Tree Pruning

Guidelines haven’t been formalized.
You can have your trees evaluated and/or schedule work without opting out

The City only asks for information that assures them that your Arborist conforms to ISA standards. 

It can be sent in an email that includes

  • Name of the Arborist
  • Description of work and location
  • A statement that asserts that the work will meet ISA standards

Gardeners’ Guild is consulting with clients and non-clients whose trees have not been tagged but want work done now.
Call us if you have questions about tree care. (510) 439-3700.
SF Department of Public Works will also answer your questions.
(415) 554-6700


San Francisco 2017 Street Tree Ordinance Simplified

San Francisco Street Trees – Example

What the ordinance is

  • Shifts responsibility of street trees from property owner to the City of San Francisco
  • Sidewalks damaged by trees will also the City’s responsibility (see photo below)
  • Measure E on November 2016 ballot. 80% SF voters approved it.
  • Measure E was the result of pressure from property owners and Friends of the Urban Forest.

Sidewalk damage as a result of street trees

Start date of change: July 1, 2017

Street trees defined:

  • A tree planted in the public right-of-way. In other words, trees on sidewalks adjacent to a property

Who is affected

  • Commercial and residential property owners and managers

What Property Owners Need to Know

  • A permit will be required for tree planting that would be in the public right of way
  • They can continue to maintain street trees by “opting out”. There is an “opt-out” application.
  • Street tree ordinance only applies to trees within the City limits
  • A property owner who has received a tree pruning request from the City will still be responsible for that
  • Property Owners can view their tree(s) on the Urban Forestry map
  • Each tree has been inventoried and placed in 3 categories relative to their condition.

 When – Plan and Timeline

  • First – High Priority Projects
    • Damaged trees located in the primary path of travel. See map for priority 1 & 2
    • Bus stops, schools, senior centers, health centers in pedestrian throughway zones
  • Then The City begins catch up on the backlog of deferred tree pruning throughout.
  • Public Works estimates:
    • It could take 3 years for this to be completed
    • A regular cycle of routine pruning will start in 2019.
  • Trees to be pruned on a 3-5 year cycle. SF Public Works will post the schedule in July 2018.


$19 million dollars*

No new taxes

*the cost comes out of the City’s general fund.


  • Sidewalks not damaged by trees are the property owner responsibility
  • If a property owner has already received a notice to address an issue with a street tree, they are responsible for that request.

For more information

(415) 554-6700 or