I saw this firsthand a few weeks ago. I took my son out to one of our new-ish harbor parks here in Oakland. They get great Yelp reviews, are supposed to be full of fun stuff and brand new equipment, and have water views. Awesome, right?
But the playground was absolutely covered with cigarette butts. The grassy areas were thoroughly seeded with broken glass. All the restrooms were out of order and smashed up. And every drinking fountain had a sketchy gentlemen bathing himself in it.
As the economy sinks, homeless people move onto abandoned boats – Oakland North : North Oakland News, Food, Art and Events
Over the last two years, Brown has noticed more and more people walking away from their vessels, unable to pay the slip rent to keep them docked at the marina. As the number of these ownerless boats have increased, so too have the number of homeless people who have realized how easily they can replace living beneath an underpass with living on the water. They illegally anchor out in the estuary—the boating community uses the terms “off-anchor” or “on-the-hook” to describe boats that are anchored out in the water, rather than at a dock.
According to state laws, only two categories of people are allowed to live out on the water, and even then only under very specific circumstances. If granted permission by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission—the agency that regulates water sanitation in the Bay Area—harbors are allowed to host a few “live-aboards” to enhance the security of the marina, but they cannot make up more than ten percent of the marina’s population. The only others permitted to live at marinas are world travelers who need a place to dock their boats temporarily. Both these groups of people must live docked at the marina, not anchored out in the middle of the water.
But off-anchors aren’t following these rules, and dock managers say they’re causing other problems for the marina community. As the number of homeless and illegal boat dwellers has increased, they say, so has a chronic wave of thefts that has kept marinas on both sides of the Oakland estuary under siege. Meanwhile, they complain, the illegal estuary dwellers are causing a host of environmental problems by disposing of sewage in the water or abandoning their boats, which can leach toxic substances as they disintegrate.