SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KRON) — The Marin Housing Authority is one step closer to booting dozens of boat dwellers in Richardson Bay off the water and into land-based housing.

There are roughly 60 individuals living in vessels and house boats anchored in Richardson Bay, according to Marin County officials. The Richardson Bay Regional Agency was mandated to relocate all inhabited vessels off the anchorage by October of 2026.

The inhabited boats are anchored in a shallow estuary on the shores of ritzy Marin County across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge. The New Yorker magazine described the community of boat dwellers as a “motley crew — free spirits, artists, literal drifters, refugees from the high cost of living on land. Richardson Bay has long been a hub for the Bay Area’s bohemian and arts scenes; it was here that Otis Redding, during a stay on a friend’s houseboat, wrote the first verse of ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.'”

A state-funded voucher program will help relocate individuals living on boats in Richardson Bay into “stable, long-term housing on the mainland,” Marin officials said. The program, approved at Tuesday’s MHA board meeting, will enable the MHA to access $3 million in funding secured by State Sen. Mike McGuire.

“This funding agreement will provide new pathways to stable living situations for those out on
Richardson Bay,” said MHA Commissioner Stephanie Moulton-Peters. “As these stormy winter
months have proven, living on a boat is difficult, particularly in environmentally-protected
waters. With these vouchers, we can find housing opportunities that work for everyone.”

As part of the agreement, the MHA will provide a local subsidized housing program with a
scattered site component for individuals currently living on the water. MHA will also administer
housing assistance payments to local landlords to create new affordable housing.

“Like all residents in Marin County, these individuals have a right to safe, sanitary and secure
housing opportunities,” said MHA Executive Director Kimberly Carroll. “We look forward to
working with the RBRA and other stakeholders on a plan that respectfully and thoughtfully
relocates everyone off of the Richardson Bay anchorage.”

The conflict in Richardson Bay is one of many affordable housing battles underway in the San Francisco Bay Area. On Tuesday night, dozens of Atherton residents packed a city council meeting expressing anger and dismay over the city’s plan to build low income housing.

Atherton is currently home to the wealthiest of Silicon Valley’s elite, as well as celebrities like Golden Gate Warriors superstar Steph Curry.

Curry and his wife wrote a letter to the Atherton City Council stating, “We hesitate to add to the ‘not in our backyard’ rhetoric, but … safety and privacy for us and our kids continues to be our top priority and one of the biggest reasons we chose Atherton as home.”

The median home sale price listed in Atherton in 2021 was nearly $7.5 million. One mega mansion currently on the market is listed for over $40 million.

Tuesday marked a deadline for all cities in California to comply with state law requiring cities to submit a housing element plan that includes new affordable and low income housing units.