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Notices Being Posted on Boats in Richardson Bay

After decades of passionate debate, the fate of Marin County’s most contentious piece of water seems poised to change, at least in Sausalito waters.

On Monday, the Sausalito Police Department handed out and posted flyers on all vessels anchored in the city’s jurisdiction on Richardson Bay, or the waters west of the channel and closest to the shoreline. “The Sausalito Police Department may remove or cause to be removed any vessel which has been left in city waters or beached for seventy two (72) or more consecutive hours,” the notice reads.

These flyers represent the early stages of a four-phase plan conceived by the City of Sausalito when it withdrew from the Richardson Bay Regional Agency (RBRA) last year. For the moment, SPD said it’s focusing on unoccupied vessels that are considered marine debris or are being used for storage, otherwise known as phases one and two of the plan.

But all vessels in Sausalito waters, occupied or not, received the flyer.

“The 72-hour notice has nothing to do with the condition of the boat,” said SPD Lieutenant Bill Fraass by phone this morning. “The vessel could be in seaworthy condition, but it is subject to being towed.” Fraass said there was some confusion among the anchor-outs when the flyers were handed out. “There’s been a lot of conversation, and we’ve had a lot of citizen correspondence via email. But we want people to know that there are several different categories of things that we’re looking at.”

Fraass said that when Sausalito was getting ready to withdraw from the RBRA, the city added the 72-hour rule to its municipal code. As we  reported in September, there have been laws on the books for decades restricting vessels anchoring in the waters in Richardson Bay — which lies at the intersection of Sausalito, Mill Valley, Belvedere and Tiburon — to a three-day stay. But the status quo has been to tolerate  anchor-outs, however grudgingly, and the 72-hour rule has never really been enforced.

The anchor-outs in Richardson Bay, as seen from inside a Tiburon home. Sausalito city waters actually make up the smallest slice of Richardson Bay; the majority of anchor-outs are in RBRA waters.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

Phase three of Sausalito’s plan involves removing vessels occupied by persons who are a danger to themselves or others, or people without much boating experience who are living on unseaworthy boats. Phase four is centered around how to address the longterm, experienced anchor-out community that’s deemed safe and seaworthy.

“At a certain point, were going to look at the occupied vessels,” Fraass said. “We just want people to be aware of what’s happening. We’ve given numerous presentations on the subject, and we’re going to continue to be open and transparent as we move forward, and give the community an opportunity for feedback.”

“We’re trying to do this for the betterment and safety of the waterfront.”

This story has been updated.



  1. Ken Brinkley 6 years ago

    Is it legal ? State and federal say otherwise .anchoring out is not a city matter .

    • Tim Henry 6 years ago

      Ken — our understating is that, while Richardson Bay is technically a “Federal Anchorage,” what that means exactly and where those boundaries lie is highly debatable. According to Sausalito Councilmember Jill Hoffman, the designation only refers to the lights certain sized boats have to carry (Hoffman also cites California case law, which says that limitless mooring is considered bay fill). Other people say that the federal designation should technically protect anchor-outs . . .

      So, like most aspects of this issue, the “rules” are subject to interpretation.

    • RationalApproach 6 years ago

      Florida cities have been variously restricting anchoring for years — even for single overnights or afternoon swims. It’s not a federal question. And concurrence with state authorized BCDC regs makes state problems unlikely.

  2. Anonymous (for my own safety) 6 years ago

    I have kept my sailboats in a Sausalito marina for over 30 years. I have never missed a payment for my slip. Each year, I pay a Marin county tax of $850 for the “privilege” of renting a slip in Marin. Meanwhile, I have watched Richardson Bay become a giant floating homeless encampment, harboring a strange mix of off-the-grid “outdoorsmen.” I observe these people daily. They are all, unquestionably, sketchy individuals. The visual pollution all these derelict watercraft create- of which only a a few, if any, are still capable of navigation- is off the charts, but what really burns my toast is that no one can convince me these freeloaders do not shit directly in the Bay. What? You believe every one of them dutifully rows or paddles ashore to perform their daily ablutions? And where, pray tell, do they perform these? In who’s restroom or on who’s property? Some will actually “hit the beaches” and show up in our marina parking lot, hanging out until a slip holder comes along to use the facilities; when the door is opened, the vagrant can slip in, but in actuality, the majority can’t be bothered. I fantasize about Richardson Bay free of all anchored-out craft. which would turn Richardson Bay into a pristine seascape, and a small sailboat paradise- a perfect place for youngsters to learn to sail. Currently, Richardson Bay is an eyesore of floating junk heaps that impede all navigation, and is used as a giant toilet for the dregs of society. I applaud the City of Sausalito for its efforts to bring this absurdity to an end- it’s about time! I wish them Godspeed. Please do NOT publish my name as my boat is easily subject to vandalism.

    • F. Castle 5 years ago

      Your full of false statements there buddy. If you have watched like you said you have then you have missed the 100 Mariners like myself that have big beautiful boats that can and have travelled. The bathroom situation is caused by people like you. All facilities have been restricted because the fear of anchor outs. Guess what! Tourists are the number one reason restrooms are trashed and constantly having to be fixed. I can say that with a fact due to my profession.
      Who cares that you slipped your boat for 30 yrs or you pay a ridiculous tax for owning a vessel that is in a slip. Those taxes should be paid by the marina but you just roll over like the rest.
      I paid taxes when I purchased my 200k yacht and I’m anchored out so I guess you missed my family doing it right…. but you have watched so diligently right?
      We eat, shop and play in Sausalito so we pay all those high taxes the city required for the “PRIVILEGE ” OF being in their run down city. You sound like the typical fun to be around pretentious human everyone just dreams of having as a friend.

    • Sea-Legs Mulroney 3 years ago

      Like John Carpenters “The Fog”!

  3. John Henry 6 years ago

    The idea of long term squatters and derelict “boats” on Richardson Bay was never politically sustainable…and if something isn’t sustainable, it won’t be sustained.

  4. Jose 6 years ago

    Sound like what is going on on a MUCH SMALLER scale with immigration in our state and country!!!!! Not to mention all the thousands of local homeless people!!!I would focus on that instead of the couple of hundred anchor outs!!!!

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