A rare sight: a two-story houseboat sailing on San Francisco Bay (8 photos + 1 video)

13 April 2024

A large houseboat was spotted in San Francisco Bay being towed by a boat from the Docktown pier (Redwood City) to the city of Sausalito. By decision of the authorities, living in houseboats was declared illegal, and hundreds of residents of Docktown, along with their houseboats, were asked to leave. This house is the penultimate of the Mohicans.

The two-story wooden house began its voyage from the Docktown pier and dropped anchor 24 hours later in Richardson Bay, located on the coast of Sausalito.

Docktown was once a paradise where more than 100 people lived on houseboats. But then the city authorities decided to evict them, declaring living in houseboats illegal.

The first eviction attempts began in 2015, and legal battles between disgruntled Docktown Marina and Redwood City residents have continued ever since.

Last October, the city paid out more than $1 million to settle claims brought by houseboat owners who abandoned the Docktown Marina that had been their home for decades.

One of Docktown's last houseboats, a two-story houseboat towed by a small boat, was being monitored by the Coast Guard. The journey from Docktown Pier to Richardson Bay took 24 hours.

The barge is currently moored at the Richardson Bay Bridge, but it is unclear where it will ultimately go.

Pictured: Houseboats moored in Sausalito

The Docktown Pier was operated by Redwood City for decades until the city was sued in 2015 by attorney Ted Hannig and an anonymous group. The lawsuit alleged that Docktown Marina violates public land use laws because the dock is public property that was not zoned for residential use.

The city ultimately paid Hannig and his group $1.5 million and allocated at least $3 million for cleanup at the pier.

The evictions took place over several years. By July last year, only nine residents remained on the Docktown houseboats.

“We were forgotten, we were treated like second- and third-class citizens,” the last remaining residents of Docktown said at the time. “It’s impossible to bear, because every day another boat leaves, and then another.” It's really sad to see affordable housing being destroyed, you know? If you live on a pension, then it’s not enough to rent a house in Silicon Valley. Everyone who still lives here doesn’t want any compensation, we just want to stay.”

A jury ruled in October that the city must pay the men more than $300,000.

“It feels like they don’t want us here,” another Docktown resident, Dan Slanker, said at the time. “Since the Docktown plan was adopted in 2016, everything has gone wrong, and I believe it should have been a relocation plan, not a relocation plan.” Displacement's impact is second only to the loss of a loved one. And it seems that over time there are more and more people, and less and less compensation.”

At the end of that year, Slanker and his wife were paid $190,000 to move and $8,000 in attorney fees. They left Docktown Pier two weeks after signing the court papers.

San Francisco has long had a community of permanently anchored houseboat owners, but in recent years their lifestyle has faced challenges.

San Francisco Bay is home to about 1,200 hectares of eelgrass, a perennial seagrass that serves as a spawning ground for herring. Biologists say the bay depends on eelgrass for its marine health, and it has the second-largest eelgrass habitat in all of California. Local authorities intend to preserve it by creating a special protection zone, albeit to the detriment of lovers of floating houses.

Add your comment
  • bowtiesmilelaughingblushsmileyrelaxedsmirk

You might be interested in: