[Hpn] ALERT: Houseboaters OUT - San Diego Bay to evict Water Squatters FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 19 Sep 2000 00:47:31 -0700 (PDT)


Should it be legal to live in boats which can't move on their own power?
If "water squatting" were banned, who would lose?  Who could benefit?

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/ap/20000917/us/houseboat_evictions_1.html
FWD  Associated Press - Sunday September 17 3:29 PM ET - CA USA

     SAN DIEGO READY TO EVICT HOUSEBOATS

     By DARA AKIKO WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A small community of people living on
weather-beaten sailboats and barges in San Diego Bay have learned
to roll with the wakes of passing ships.

It's a small price to pay for a peaceful life on the water where
they can drop anchor for free - and because many of them have
nowhere else to go.

But now the occupants of the ragtag fleet face Port District
restrictions going into effect this month that they fear could push
them onto land or into homelessness.

It's not that the area known as A8 is idyllic.

``It's the worst place on the bay to be,'' said boater Lawrence
Graf. ``There is no protection from the wind and the shore is a
rocky bulkhead. Nobody in his right mind would anchor in this
location.''

But they have, since the free anchorage was created in 1987.

About 120 vessels bob out there, including commercial tugs, some
that are unoccupied restoration projects, and 40 that are home to
people who just don't want to live among landlubbers.

These are motorboats, sailboats and barges, not luxury cabin
cruisers. Most of the residents, known as live-aboards, have little
or no income and their boats lack masts, sails or motors. Shore is
a 10-minute ride on a small boat with a motor.

But the new rules say vessels in the anchorage may be no longer
than 65 feet and have to be able to move on their own power.

Owners have until Sept. 22 to register their vessels and motor
them to an inspection, and the port could destroy vessels that
don't meet the requirements.

Port officials and harbor police contend the free anchorage was
meant as a service only for visiting boaters, and claim some
live-aboards dump trash and sewage in the bay.

``Our intent is really ... to clean up the area and ask the
boaters to comply with the regulations. And the problem is that
some of them simply can't,'' said port spokeswoman Rita Vandergraw.

The live-aboards say that's just an excuse to move them out and
eventually charge fees for anchoring in A8. They say most of them
use portable toilets, which are emptied into a public restroom on
shore, and that the bay is so clean they fish from their decks.

``We are not the water squatters they say we are, we are not the
scum of the Earth,'' said Shelby Britt.

Residents also say they are a community, helping out when anyone
falls overboard or pumping out vacant boats that take on water.

``We don't have bars or locks on our doors. Everyone watches the
anchorage,'' said Graf, who lives on a rusty 110-foot Navy
minesweeper, Paradise, with his wife Joyce.

Unlike other residents, the Grafs have spent $100,000 over the
years to make their boat livable, but it still doesn't meet the
port's requirements because it lacks a motor. Rent for a mooring
somewhere else could cost as much as $1,000 a month for the couple
living on Social Security.

``There are no options. We have been legislated out of the
bay,'' Graf said. ``The only thing we can do is let them take it.
We'll be homeless.''

The harbor patrol will begin tagging vessels at the end of the
month but doesn't plan drastic action, said Capt. Jim Krusen.

``We're not going to go in there and clean sweep everybody.
We'll go forward with compassion,'' he said.

Britt, his wife Jodie and their poodle Muffin live on a barge
that he has outfitted with electrical generators, a work shed and a
studio with a rooftop sun deck.

Britt, who lives on his $600 a month Army pension, says that
before he started building the harbor patrol told him he only
needed sufficient anchoring and safety equipment such as life
jackets and a water pump.

``They knew what I was doing,'' Britt said. ``Now, they come up
to us 51/2 years later and say 'Oh, we changed our minds. You can't
live here.' ... And you're supposed to say `OK, you can have it?''

--
On the Net:

Port of San Diego: http://www.portofsandiego.org/sandiego/

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