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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Abandoned houseboat sinks in India Basin

Photo: M Hamman
A large, abandoned two-storey houseboat that had been tied up at Pier 96 until recently was towed into India Basin and dumped back on April 15.  While the boat was still in transit, SFPD were called to the scene of what witnesses considered to be a crime in progress.  Despite arriving both by car and police boat, SFPD apparently were unable to do much, and the incident didn't even make it to the thrice-weekly newsletter.  

Ever since, neighbors have been appealing to anyone who could possibly have jurisdiction over it to take action.  SFPD, SF Port, Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers, SF Rec & Park, Supervisor Cohen, State Senator Mark Leno, State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano have all been asked to help, but nothing visible has yet taken place.  

Two months after the houseboat was dumped, it now appears stuck in the mud.  Supervisor Cohen's office had the following to say about the situation:
"We have been working with the multiple agencies who have jurisdiction over this action including (Coast Guard, SFPD, RPD,  and the Port). The Supervisor has spoken repeatedly to the property owner and has asked him to move immediately. We have requested that the Port request to obtain title to the vessel. They have submitted a request to the DMV to do so and we will continue to urge the DMV to process it as quickly as possible. The City needs to obtain title before it can seize the vessel to ensure that we are not liable for property damage in a subsequent law suit from the property owner. We estimate that the cost to the City to tow and dispose of this vessel is approximately $20,000. While the cost is significant, and we would prefer to spend it on other neighborhood priorities, we are prepared to do whatever necessary to remove this nuisance. 
"Additionally, there has been a concern that the boat is sinking. The Port investigated the site again and has confirmed that it is not sinking, rather the owner set anchors without considering appropriate scope (length of line to accommodate changing tide). He set tight anchor lines while the tide was out and vessel was aground, when the tide comes in, the deck is awash. Houseboats built on barge typically have a hatch cover allowing access into the barge space. Repeated inundation could result in permanent grounding. The owner has been informed that the City believes he is attempting to cause intentional environmental damage by sinking his vessel.

"I know this is a frustrating experience for everyone involved, but we are working as diligently as possible with the State/Federal entities to legally remove this vessel."
It is unclear as to why SFPD allowed the boat to be anchored here two months ago, but they did, and now the City may be on the hook for $20K to remove it.  The question asked by many is, would this have been allowed to happen at Marina Green or some other more tourist-friendly location?

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