Residents of Floating Homes in SF Bay Evicted Over Environmental Concerns

As part of an initiative to preserve the fragile maritime environment, a group of sailors who have made San Francisco Bay their permanent home face expulsion from the waterways.

The second-largest ecosystem in California, located in the San Francisco Bay, is home to some 3,000 acres of eelgrass. Local authorities are seeking to create an Eelgrass Protection Zone.

Richardson Bay, opposite the upscale coastal town of Sausalito, is home to about thirty anchor-outs, including artists and free spirits. They live there rent-free and are not obligated to pay for permits.

In a drive by local officials and the Army Corps of Engineers to evacuate all boats from the bay, the once-crowded waterways have seen a dramatic six-fold decrease in boat traffic.

Marine flowering seagrasses like eelgrass thrive in protected, shallow coastal habitats.  According to marine biologists, seagrass is crucial to the bay’s ecosystem because it provides a place for herring, the foundation of the food chain, to spawn.

Richardson Bay is home to 400 acres of eelgrass, with 75 acres injured by chains and anchors. However, those who defend anchor-outs claim that agricultural fertilizer runoff and illicit dumping from yachts are the problem.

Municipal organizations launched a $3 million campaign in 2021 to gradually transfer the seafarers.

The agreements that apply to anchor-outs include a housing stipend for an apartment, usually worth $2,500, and a repurchase of the vessel at $150 per foot.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Stephanie Moulton-Peters, a supervisor for Marin County, praised the program and noted that their stance goes beyond just urging people to leave the ocean. They are also providing them with accommodation.

A representative from the Richardson Bay Regional Agency confirmed that the last floating house was removed in March.

Brad Gross, the executive director of the Richardson Water Regional Agency, emphasized that boats are still present in the water. However, Gross clarified that the last floating home was not the same as a leisure or commercial boat and was removed.