Katie Beacock: Reflections from Seadrift

David Briggs
Katie Beacock has owned Seadrift Realty in Stinson Beach for over 40 years. Her daughter and five other employees now work alongside her.  

When Katie Beacock and her husband founded Seadrift Realty in 1973, the gated community just north of Stinson Beach was home to roughly 20 houses. Relocating from East Marin with their four—soon to be five—children, the couple built a home overlooking the lagoon and set up an office at the entrance of the gate, then secured by a small padlock.

“We came here because eastern Marin had been getting too busy, and we loved the peace and the beauty and the wonderful relationships and community out here,” Ms. Beacock said. “Though of course all that busyness eventually followed us.”

The couple later engaged in a years-long battle with the California Coastal Commission to allow more development in Seadrift, but ultimately acquiesced to keep density low, and Ms. Beacock now describes herself as a conservationist.

“I’m very passionate about this environment,” she said. “West Marin is a very special place, a holy place. I worry very much about the future. I’m a staunch believer in the ranchers, I’d like to see more affordable housing and the ongoing protection of the environment. The thought of oil platforms off the coast here is just terrifying.”

Though Ms. Beacock is acutely aware of the threat of sea-level rise—she served on the task force for the county’s Community Sea-Level Marin Adaptation Response Team—she said the risk has not yet affected real estate, and that “the majority of today’s buyers are living in the moment, as nothing is going to happen overnight.”

This and other astute observations reveal a woman who is committed to the greater good of the community she has served for many years. 

Ms. Beacock and her husband bought Seadrift Realty from the Kent family, who owned huge swaths of land from Kentfield west to the ocean, but donated much of it as state and federal parkland. Though she said there has not been too much new development in Stinson Beach over the years, Seadrift has grown to over 300 homes.

At the beginning, Ms. Beacock split her time between caring for her growing children and helping out with the business. She became particularly involved in the ’80s, when the company computerized, but when her husband died in 1993, Ms. Beacock said she “had to switch into survival mode.”

Though her children had grown up in Seadrift, attending Bolinas-Stinson School and kayaking in the lagoon, she and her two youngest, who were still at home, moved east to be closer to family.

She now lives in San Rafael while working full-time in Stinson Beach alongside six employees, including her daughter, Betsy Wood. 

“People think I’m crazy when I say this, but my favorite part of the day is driving over the hill to work,” Ms. Beacock said. “I’ve been coming here my whole life, and there’s just nothing quite like it.”

Today, Seadrift Realty conducts home sales and manages short-term rentals in both Stinson Beach and Seadrift, sharing the market with Oceanic Realty—also started in the early ’70s—, Highway One Properties and Sotheby’s International Realty. 

Ms. Beacock acknowledges that the rise of Airbnb and VRBO has led to problems in coastal communities, but she drew a distinction between the short-term rentals she manages and those in some other places.

“The rentals that we do would never have been long-term rentals because the owners want to use their homes,” she said. “We have always been good neighbors, and the occasional, big parties really have not happened here for quite some time. I think the problem is when there is no one around on site, keeping an eye on things. A few bad apples can ruin a bushel.” 

Still, the beach town has not been spared from a hollowing-out of full-time residents. Ms. Beacock can remember 30 families living full-time in Seadrift; now, she estimates there are about half that. And the fewer the families, the less attractive the place becomes for would-be residents with children.

And though demand for homes on the coast is high, especially among young families, she said she sees increasingly less time for leisure in people’s busy lives. 

“The kids of this generation are busy with a million weekend activities and I’ve seen that people tend to stay a lot less than those of the first generation,” she said. “But my hopes are still high they will become regulars. The most rewarding part of this business has been to have clients that have been coming for years—maybe every year for the past 40—and to watch their kids grow up.”


You can explore Seadrift Realty online at seadrift.com. and contact Katie Beacock and her staff by phone at (415) 868.1791.