Surrounded by beautiful hills, a charming downtown and views of the bay and San Francisco—it is hard to believe that a place so rich in natural beauty and history could possibly offer more. But Tiburon does offer all this and more, in a vibrant community that is grounded in its past, enthused about its future and more than happy to spend its present on a picturesque peninsula jutting out into San Francisco Bay.
“People sometimes just see the houses on the hills,” says second-term councilwoman and current mayor Alice Fredericks. “But the people in those houses are great.”
Resident and Koze boutique owner Darla Fisher noticed this fact the first time she ventured into Tiburon after making a wrong turn during a house-hunting trip. “We were looking for a place to eat and wound up in Tiburon by accident,” she says. “It was the first year of Friday Nights on Main and we thought, what is going on? It was European-style, and we were just totally impressed; it showcased the community perfectly.”
Fisher and her husband dined at Sam’s Anchor Cafe that night and noticed a vacant storefront across the street—the future location of Koze. “We sold our house in Moss Beach 48 hours later and moved to Tiburon,” Fisher says. “Now I walk to work.”
According to Fisher, local traffic, which makes up 70 percent of her business, is the lifeblood of her “basics with a twist” clothing business and many others located in the Historic Ark Row district on Main Street. “It is an incredible accomplishment to build this kind of support after only our fourth year,” she says. “Locals hold the keys to the kingdom; without them these stores cease to exist.” For Fisher and her husband, that support goes both ways. “We enjoy walking to town and are big supporters of other local businesses,” she adds. “We eat out almost every night.”
Mayor Fredericks says the sense of community residents get by attending events like Friday Nights on Main — when all of Main Street is closed to traffic, and shopping, mingling and alfresco dining are the orders of the evening — or from the Belvedere-Tiburon Library, which boasts some 300 volunteers, is even more important in a community lacking centralized locations.
“Families come and visit and older folks get to see younger families,” says Fredericks, who moved to town in 1996 and was elected to the city council in 2001. “I love my job,” she says of the council. “I get to work with people in the community who are energized and engaged, even if they sometimes have competing interests.”
Fredericks plans to run for a rare third term in an effort to continue work on the issues she sees as very important for Tiburon going forward. These include expansion of the library, getting the county to limit building on ridges, expansion of projects to reduce solar emissions and a continuation of the strides she has made in building relationships with the county and state.
“I am an advocate for the interests of small towns, including Tiburon,” she adds. “And I’m getting wiser by the minute.”
Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty President Bill Bullock has been selling real estate on the high end of the market in Tiburon and Marin since the mid-’8os and says Tiburon’s residents are its real wealth.
“The people are intellectually stimulating and very, very aware of the most advanced concepts,” he says. “And we have the good fortune to interact with those great minds on a regular basis.”
The other half of Bullock’s very successful sales team, Lydia Sarkissian, agrees. “Marin County is such a gem and a unique place; we have done a lot of work to expose that fact to the world and country,” she says. “Also, we have the best views of San Francisco from Tiburon; it is better to be here looking at S.F. than to be in S.F. looking at S.F.”
Of course, that view will cost. The most expensive property sold in Tiburon in 2007 was the former home of tennis star Andre Agassi and went for $20 million, while the most expensive sold last year went for $12.5 million and included a great view. Both of these homes were sold by Bullock and Sarkissian. So far this year the least expensive home went for $770,000; the most expensive topped out at $9 million, though with 90 active listings, those numbers could change at any time.
But when the view out of your front window includes one of the most visited cities in the world just across the bay, it seems worth almost any price.