SAUSALITO, Calif. (KRON) – This Labor Day would have marked the 68th year of the Sausalito Art Festival but the event that usually draws thousands to the city’s Marinship Park, is now canceled.
Organizers say it’s because of a growing homeless encampment, and the city’s efforts to move it.
“We just can’t wait around to see if we have a park or not. The city needs to figure out a viable solution for the homeless. That’s number one,” Louis Briones, executive director of the Sausalito Art Festival, said.
Back in December, one man set up a tent in Dunphy Park and over the last six months many more have moved in.
The city council is trying to relocate the encampment from its current, very central location to the less visible Marinship Park just down the way, but a U.S. district court judge needs to sign off on the move first.
“We just can’t continue to wait week after week to see what he has to say,” Briones said.
Executive director of the festival Louis Briones says the festival is completely open to moving its location but at this late in the year, there’s simply not enough time to get approvals needed.
“There’s floating home communities around Dunphy park, there’s parking, there’s traffic, there’s all kinds of other issues that come with using another park and we feel confident we’d work through those issues, but not in a couple of weeks,” Briones said.
The festival has had a multi-year agreement to use Marinship Park over Labor Day weekend but the city considers the new homeless encampment an emergency situation and is able to negate the agreement.
Briones says there’s no winner in this situation.
The cancellation of the festival means yet another year of loss for the featured artists.
“We typically have about 160 artists at the festival and this year those artists won’t have an opportunity to sell in Sausalito,” Briones said.
The city of Sausalito said in a statement it understands and regrets the uncertainty caused by the ongoing litigation concerning the tent encampment and once it’s settled they look forward to furthering talks with the festival regarding a site for future events. The judge in question cited judicial ethics rules prohibiting him from discussing the ongoing litigation.
Briones anticipates being able to hold the festival somewhere in Sausalito next year.