Sunday, January 20

Sausalito Cracks Down on Boaters Anchoring Out in Richardson Bay, Just Across from San Francisco

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There’s trouble in Richardson Bay, just across the Golden Gate from San Francisco and directly off the well-photographed, steep hillside town of Sausalito. The local police have been placing bright orange warning stickers on the decks of dozens of “anchor out” boats there – boats that have been anchoring there for free, often for many years.

“Warning,” the stickers say. “The Sausalito police may remove any vessel which has been left in city waters for 72 hours.”

A local police lieutenant told The San Francisco Chronicle, “We’ve been getting more and more complaints, more reports of thefts and other problems.”

Another officer said, “The boats just sit there, like a giant parking lot. More like a giant junkyard.”

Boats have been anchoring out in Richardson Bay for decades, for lots of reasons, but mostly because of cost. Anchoring out is free. Slips in local marinas are at least $1,000 a month, and usually much more. The cost of housing in the entire Bay Area is off the charts.

Now about 250 boats are anchored in Richardson Bay. Some are in good shape; some are in serious disrepair. Many, if not most, empty their heads or holding tanks into the bay.

Joan Cox, the Mayor of Sausalito, said the city did “not want to go out and seize boats, but this is a public health and safety issue.”

The city has already evicted Alden Bevington, who’s been anchoring out for quite a while. It seized his 33-foot yawl, Sanctuary, and destroyed it. He admitted it was in poor condition. “This is a social issue, not a law enforcement issue,” he told The Chronicle. “Richardson Bay is one of the last places where people can drop an anchor and stay.”

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