B is for Bolinas: A city with a mind of its own


Everyone in the Bay Area knows the reputation of Bolinas: a small town of about 2500 residents, north of San Francisco: to keep people out of this surf town artists, writers and former hippies, the people mess with the Bolinas sign, or rather, they point it into the other direction, away from the town.

The town really showed its spirit when in 1971, two oil tankers collided near the Golden Gate. When the first birds, covered in oil, washed ashore, the residents cleaned up their own beach and took over the water district in town while banning new water meters, which meant no new homes could be developed.

Nonetheless, Bolinas has always remained an attractive spot for techies who launched their startups in the 1980s and 1990s during the dotcom boom: a journalist from The New York Times even wrote that this unleashed a culture war between BMW’s and the well-known VW van (and ultimate California hippie car).

For many famous people Bolinas offers privacy —some big names who live(d) there are Richard Brautigan, Alice Waters, Susie Tompkins Buell (Esprit) and film maker Joel Coen (with his wife and actress Frances McDormand).

And as for that Bolinas sign? You’d better rely on your GPS.

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