Tireless Oakland Estuary advocate Brock de Lappe wrote us to send out the rallying cry for sailors to offer their support and join him this Wednesday, February 22, at 9:30 a.m., on Zoom at the BCDC hearing regarding the agenda item “Abandoned and Derelict Vessels and Anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.” De Lappe’s leadership, with the support of you and others, is aimed at keeping the Estuary clean, safe and accessible to all. As he has documented on many occasions, what should be a beautiful shoreline for the pleasure of all Oakland and Bay Area residents has been overrun by a nautical blight of abandoned and derelict liveaboard vessels.
According to the meeting notice, the BCDC hearing will provide a one-year update on “Actions to Address Shoreline Encampments” and “Abandoned and Derelict Vessels and Anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, Alameda County.” The committee will receive a briefing on the actions to address shoreline encampments, abandoned and derelict vessels, and anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary by BCDC staff and the cities of Oakland and Alameda, as a follow-up to the discussion and direction provided by the Enforcement Committee during its meetings on February 23 and March 23, 2022. There is supposed to be time allotted for public comment for those who join the meeting by Zoom.
As de Lappe states, “It is important that the committee receives input from the community on the importance of addressing the growing problem of illegal anchor-outs on the Oakland Estuary. The January storms resulted in multiple sinkings and vessels breaking free of their anchorage and drifting free on the Estuary as an extreme hazard to navigation.”
We all know these photos don’t represent the entire Oakland waterfront. Most of the areas from Jack London Square to Brooklyn Basin are greatly improved and under renovation, though many rough patches remain, with illegal liveaboards living rent-free. Brotzeit Local German Restaurant and Biergarten is an inviting oasis along the winding Oakland waterfront, but de Lappe points out that the increasing number of wrecks along the shoreline continues to undermine the health and safety of the waterfront for both marine life and sailors.
We visited the Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau website, which has a beautifully produced video on the home page and includes the image of the Lake Merritt Sailboat House above. What’s missing in all the enticing scenery in the video is any connection to the Bay. The image above could easily be mistaken for the waterfront in St. Louis or any inland city. A viewer wouldn’t know that Oakland has one of the longest shorelines, with some of the warmest weather and best sailing, of any Bay Area municipality.
De Lappe has put together a flyer for you to share with others if you’d like to get involved. The homeless crisis is certainly one that needs to be solved for the benefit of those in need. However, letting decaying, poorly maintained vessels moor for free or be abandoned along the Oakland shoreline is not going to solve the housing crisis, and will only become a growing expense plus a navigational and environmental hazard for the city and its residents. De Lappe is asking for others to speak up, as he sees the problem is only growing worse.
Even if everyone got on board, this process could take years to resolve. The last cleanup in 2013, instigated by de Lappe, took the collaboration and coordination of numerous agencies and actually eliminated the problem for a short while, but lack of enforcement has allowed the problem to return. You can add your voice on Wednesday here. For those unable to attend the meeting, public comments can be emailed to: [email protected].