• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Relocating Sausalito Homeless Camp, a Safe and Sanitary Move for All – Marin Independent Journal

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jul 14, 2021

It certainly hasn’t been pretty — legally or politically — but Sausalito City Hall has found a just, reasonable, and compassionate solution to the illegal homeless encampment that has sprung up in Dunphy Park.

The city gave homeless people a safe and hygienic place to camp until they could find a permanent roof over their heads.

For months, homeless people camped out in Dunphy Park and were able to legally resist city efforts to move them about a mile north of Marinship Park.

The campers were initially able to stop the move, winning a federal court order that the move — and a companion order from the city — could compromise the protection of COVID-19 “lockdown” protocols by forcing them to break camp every morning.

Air quality tests indicated that Marinship Park was safe, despite complaints from campers that they would be subjected to toxins from broken abandoned boats on a nearby dock.

The camp was started in protest at the tougher enforcement of anchorage limits – a long-standing local issue – by the regional agency in Richardson’s Bay. Campers said the removal of illegal vessels from anchorage left them homeless.

With the crackdown on anchoring and the relocation of camp comes a message that campers don’t like to hear: you can’t always live where you want.

In the case of Dunphy Park anchorages and campers, people cannot simply live for months, years and decades on their boats or pitch tents in public parks.

There has long been a strict time limit for anchoring boats in the bay. The city and the RBRA enforce it.

Although Dunphy campers set up their tents at the edge of the park, they still squat in a public park.

The campers had received three days notice that the city was going to clean up Dunphy’s camp.

Ironically, the clash between city officials and Dunphy campers came around the 50th anniversary of the controversial Waldo Point waterfront clash during a crackdown by county sheriff’s deputies on residents of boats illegally moored in the port.

The Marinship site is now better equipped to address safety and sanitation concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was eased and the judge, after reviewing city plans, decided to allow the move from Dunphy Park.

The park has flush toilets and has been the site where the portable shower unit sets up twice a week.

The city is responsible for the health and well-being of its residents, both those with housing and those without. This responsibility includes public health, safety and welfare.

Marinship Park accommodations approach these standards, both for campers and the general public.

The relocation of campers will not end the debate on the application of anchor rules. The move should also bolster the city’s support for efforts to find more permanent housing for local homeless people.

Despite the town’s initial legal stumble, it tries to do the right thing for everyone.