22 Aug 2014
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Ooooooops! City says Docktown Out? Calling Grandfather!

Ooooooops! City says Docktown Out? Calling Grandfather! Ooooooops! City says Docktown Out? Calling Grandfather! Ooooooops! City says Docktown Out? Calling Grandfather! Ooooooops! City says Docktown Out? Calling Grandfather! Ooooooops! City says Docktown Out? Calling Grandfather!
My last post was all about how pleased I am at the guidelines emerging from the Inner Harbor task force. I am proud of the way this diverse group of citizens has worked together to balance open space and development in their recommendations, and pleased to see that they valued floating homes, and Docktown in particular as noted in Guideline #6, which calls for the plan to "preserve existing and accomodate new floating communities."

I'm anything but pleased, however, with the change in tone adopted by the City's staff and consultants in updating the options, which was not consistent with these guidelines.  

At the meeting prior to my last blog post the consultants outlined two possible plans for the task force to consider. One had Docktown remaining where it is on the creek. The other referred instead to a new floating community nearby at Ferrai Pond. The Task Force was to look at both possibities.

But during the break that was changed. A memorandum was posted on the city website announcing that the consultants had decided to eliminate Docktown from consideration. The two plans now both have a new floating home community at Ferraris, and some slips where the rowing club is now.

Forgetting for the moment the fact that the very popular rowing club has every right to stay right where it is, it is necessary to point out that any new community at Ferraris will take at least 4-5 years just to be approved, during which time the city says it cannot guarantee Docktown residents access to water and electricity, nor is there any guarantee as to who could move to the new Marina. That would be the death of our unique little community.

The consultants called this a compromise that would open up Public Access to the creek.  Bill Ekern was quoted in the Daily News as saying "We have reclaimed the creek for open space and recreation."  Reclaimed? Really? When was it never available for either use?

In a series of emails to me responding to my questioning the action, Mr. Ekern fell back on the argument that State Lands has said we do not belong here, and the fact that utilities might not be available.  

The city and consultants anticipated a vote last week that would have locked down these assumptions, along with specified amounts of open space and development.

Fortunately, at last week's meeting, the Task Force pushed back against a rapid decision on the questions of open space usage and development, as well as the future of Docktown and other issues, and was given another week to deliberate and debate. A vote on the draft the City wants to present to the City Council in May is now expected tonight. 

For our part Docktown Residents are asking the Task Force to recommend what we feel is an elegant solution to the Docktown "problem," which documents acquired under the Public Records Act show, has been a source of consternation at City Hall since 2000, and debated repeatedly in the wake of a lawsuit by a Floating Home owner over the destruction of his home in 2005 (which he won). 

A review of other floating communities on the Bay shows 5 that were approved by both BCDC and State lands (in Sausalito, and 2, in San Francisco and Alameda, that were grandfathered by BCDC, even though they were technically in violaton of the Public Trust as interpreted in the letter State Lands staff recently sent the city. By way of explanation BCDC said in their Bay Plan that they would grandfather any houseboats that were on the Bay prior to 1985.

Docktown Marina has been here for nearly 50 years, and even though we are not under the jurisdiction of BCDC, should be treated in the same way. 

The City should work with State Lands and the legislature to find a process for Grandfathering Docktown Marina at it's current location on Redwood Creek.

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