top of page

Project Update + Michael Rex and Associates

Updated: Jan 19

This is a response to our Nextdoor post regarding Michael Rex and Associates. Thank you to everyone who has reached out privately. Your solidarity means so much. While we are continuing to assess next steps with regard to Rex I thought I would provide some context.

We are a young family of five attempting to remodel our house so that we can stay here in Sausalito, a city we have grown to love and call home for the last 7 years. We are now over 3 years into our journey.

Michael Rex and Associates was hired to shut down our project by Conrad and Shana Gann, the owners of 428 Pine and 104 Bonita, the two-building investment property on the lot immediately west of us. Their lot is identically sized to our lot, yet is over lot coverage and has legal non-conforming setbacks on 3 of the 4 sides. The Ganns live at 26 Cedar Ave. in Larkspur, CA.

In the months prior to our Planning Commission Hearing last fall, we spent over 40 hours working with the Ganns and Michael Rex, addressing one purported issue after the next. They never reached a point of satisfaction with our home’s design. 

Upon being hired by the Ganns, Rex demanded a full set of printed plans which we immediately hand-delivered to his office free of charge (normally a few hundred dollars in time and services), sincerely hoping to collaborate. I’ll note that the Ganns were already in possession of a full set of digital plans and a photo-realistic 3D model.  My wife and I have been transparent with all of our neighbors throughout this entire process (read the full story here). Yet the more we tried to work with the Ganns via Rex, the more we realized Rex was creating issues, rather than resolving them. Rex requested a last-minute meeting with me and David, the owner of our design firm, G Family Design. We both cleared our schedules to meet with Rex at Conrad and Shana’s investment property. In true Rex fashion, his secretary called 30 minutes before our appointment time to cancel the meeting. Prior to the Planning Commission vote, we heard an account of Michael Rex bragging to group of people that he"shutdown that project," referring to our family home where we plan to raise our kids. 

Conrad and Shana Gann went so far as to circulate a map of the neighborhood that falsely represented the opinions of three surrounding neighbors. They labeled the three properties as “in opposition” when they actually supported our project with positive letters on our behalf! Rex and the Ganns know no bounds when it comes to misleading the community and trying to intimidate us. 

Fortunately, on November 15, 2023, all five Planning Commission members unanimously approved our project. We are forever grateful to have received over 25 letters of support from the community we love and equally grateful for the amazing show of solidarity by certain Planning Commissioners. Although of course, Rex likely charged his clients thousands of dollars for his failed attempt.

In the months since our Planning Commission approval, locals and people familiar with Sausalito have reached out with their own anecdotes of Rex. Many describe him as "arrogant," "manipulative," "a prick," "an a**hole," "a slime-ball". This went on from one person to the next. I've heard from multiple former Rex clients that they believe he overcharged for his work. These former clients claim that Rex and Associate's approach of: “its better to as for forgiveness than to ask for permission” needlessly cost them a lot of money. He certainly costs our volunteer Planning Commissioners and City Council Members a lot of time in appeals and hotly contested meetings. 

Fast forward: per the guidance of Michael Rex, Conrad and Shana Gann have appealed our approved designs to the Sausalito City Council. They further indicated that even if the City Council upholds the Planning Commission’s unanimous vote of approval, they intend to file a writ of mandamus in California Superior Court in order to block our project. Which unfortunately means we will end up in Superior Court either way the City Council decides.

We believe it is highly unlikely they will succeed considering the State of California’s effort to promote housing development. As Vice-Chair Commissioner Junius stated during the October 25th Planning Commission hearing,

“One of the things that we’re going to be seeing in the coming years, the conversations were having here, is not gonna happen anymore with respect to multifamily housing, two-unit projects and above. The state, because of what happens in commission hearings like this and this type of really, really, difficult, confusing, hard-to-pin-down process has caused enormous problems around the state. So the state has taken away that power from commissions and cities for larger projects. 

Recent legislation like the Housing Accountability Act were enacted to stop the interference of disgruntled neighbors amid a housing crisis. Our approved plans are currently for a single family home plus an ADU, not a multi-family structure, although our lot is zoned for multi-family. Not only are we adding an ADU, but we are proposing a highly energy-efficient and fire-resistant home.

Rex and the Ganns recruited four other appellants to join their appeal and are collectively working to intimidate my family and drive us out of town. We are in the process of filing restraining orders on two of these appellants (Ray Swanson of 422 Pine and Lorraine Cline of 425 Turney) as well as on Zane Chess, the owner of Giligan’s Poke Shop, for harassing us in front of our children. Cline’s pattern of harassment started on her anti-family Nextdoor post and then continued in person. Cline routinely flips the middle finger to my wife and kids (6-year-old, 4-year-old, and now 16-month-old) when they pass her in the street. Zane Chess and Jeffery Konen made false statements to the police about a “physical altercation” when I had to step between Zane and my then 8 month old baby because he flew off the handle after we asked them for design feedback. Security camera footage and the police report confirmed that I did not touch him at all. However, they never did take up our offer to work with us to remedy their strong dislike of our home design. We’ve since heard multiple reports of Zane being highly aggressive and confrontational to a well-loved and respected business owner that publicly supported our project. All this because you don't like what some else’s house is going to look like?  We have worked too hard to overcome each obstacle and won’t be intimidated into backing down. But that doesn’t stop these people from trying. 

Michael Rex and Associates is a well-known critic of the Planning Commission and design review in Sausalito, while simultaneously fueling (and profiting from) the approval and denial of people's homes. Rex is like an arms dealer criticizing the war while selling arms to both sides of the conflict. Michael Rex doesn't live in Sausalito. He is not a community member. 

As some folks have pointed out, he has offered up his time and services to projects like the ferry landside project. But, this pro bono work is frankly a great lead generation tactic and I doubt he is doing it purely from the kindness of his heart. Some people have been bold enough to say that we should have hired Michael Rex and Associates to get us through the process. We disagree. We chose G Family Design because of the excellent work they do, their integrity and their commitment to this community (David is a Sausalito resident with a young family). And we are 1000% confident they will get the job done. G Family Design got us unanimous approval on our first try! If Rex weren’t lurking on the sidelines, we would already be on our way through the permitting process. Honestly, even if Rex had offered to design our house for free, we wouldn’t have hired him because of his shady reputation and the way he conducts business. Our values are not aligned with his. And while I personally do not care for Rex’s design aesthetic, it is NOT my place to tell other people what they can or cannot do with THEIR LAND. 

 A hired gun like Michael Rex and Associates should not be the gatekeeper of who can stay and who must leave a community. Building or remodeling in Sausalito is already incredibly difficult and cost-prohibitive for most people. Add in a bad actor and it becomes impossible for families that were lucky enough to buy a home in the first place but need to expand or modernize. 

We knew it would be a long road, but this journey has been crazier for our family than we could have imagined. Our hope is that through transparency we can incite change to improve the design process for our entire community. 


Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page