Sausalito eliminated homeless people from Marinship Park – paying them each $18,000 to leave
Sausalito managed to clean up a sprawling encampment at Marinship Park this month that had grown increasingly unsanitary and problematic over the past two years, but they did so via a legal settlement that included cash payments.
There have already been plenty of tweets to the effect of “Why doesn’t San Francisco try this?!”, but what the city of Sausalito just did to clean up a city park of about 30 homeless residents seems like a pretty short-term, one-time solution.
As KRON4 reports, it was once a mile-long encampment in 2020. And later it consisted in part of homeless individuals who previously lived in the city’s Dunphy Park – the place usual at the famous Sausalito art festival and from which they were expelled. last summer.
Six months ago the city declared a state of emergency around the encampment following a fire there – although efforts to clear encampments in the city have already been subject to injunctions judicial. (In March, a judge also upheld one of the campers’ rights to use his own tent and shade structure for two pet cats, overturning a city order requiring him to use one of their own. REI tents provided, beige in color – which appears to be an aesthetic issue.)
Earlier this month, the city finally reached a settlement with a group representing campers, the Sausalito Homeless Union, agreeing to pay each eligible camper a one-time $18,000 allowance to find alternate accommodations elsewhere. As the Chronicle previously reported, the Sausalito Homeless Union will be responsible for distributing the funds and providing a monthly account of their use to the city.
“The deal is an innovative way to get people out of tents and into housing before bad weather hits,” City Manager Chris Zapata said, speaking to KPIX. “That’s what you should do.”
And Sausalito Mayor Janelle Kellman said in a statement, “I am confident that we have opened a pathway of human action that meets the unique needs of each person. This agreement will allow us to help people get their lives back in a much more compassionate and safer way than the unfortunate circumstance of living on the outside.”
If all 30 people qualify for the grants, the settlement will cost the city $540,000. The city says it has already incurred $1.5 million in unforeseen costs related to the encampment, including legal fees, remediation and management.
The Sausalito Homeless Union had sued the town on behalf of the residents of the encampment – the latest in two years of legal battles over homelessness and where to humanely allow people to exist in the small town on the edge of the Bay. An earlier battle had been fought over boat dwellers (or “anchorages” in adjacent Richardson Bay, whose boats were considered hazards by the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission, which has started enforcing 72-hour anchor rules – rules that these boat dwellers couldn’t abide by because their boats weren’t operational, in many cases. Some of these people ended up in Dunphy Park, then, Marina Park.
Since February 2021, tent dwellers have been forced to stay in a fenced, sanctioned area on the tennis courts, and the city has given tickets to residents who tried to camp outside of that area. As Pacific Sun reported last year, the nonprofit Urban Alchemy, which operated several of San Francisco’s sanctioned tent camps, operated the site, and residents filed anonymous complaints alleging staff misconduct. Urban Alchemy, including drug use and sexual harassment.
The park and its adjacent tennis courts must now be cleaned and tested for public health risks before they can be reopened to the public, and KRON4 notes that no cleaning plan has yet been finalized.
Oakland faces a similar problem, albeit on a larger scale, with the sprawling Wood Street encampment in West Oakland. With part of the camp existing on Caltrans property and following a steady stream of fires, including two on Tuesday this week, Caltrans ordered the camp cleared and began the process of evicting people at the mid-July. That effort was met with a court injunction and a federal judge has given Caltrans and the city of Oakland until tomorrow, Aug. 26, to provide a relocation plan for the approximately 300 people living in the encampment.
Previously: Sausalito declares emergency over camp fire
Top image: Google Street View approx. April 2019