Fight to save floating homes continues; several structures demolished in Redwood City

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Fight to save floating homes continues; several structures demolished in Redwood City
Members of a floating community in Redwood City are fighting to save their homes.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Members of a floating community in Redwood City are fighting to save their homes.

Redwood City leaders say they're legally obligated to end residential uses at Docktown Marina in order to allow access to public land along Redwood Creek.

Once a floating community of around 100 residents, Docktown is down to just 11 floating homes.

Isolated, ignored and deserted is how the remaining residents at Docktown are feeling as more floating homes are being removed, and some razed.

"I just can't stand it because every day another boat goes out, another boat goes out," Ed Stancil told ABC7 News. "And it's just very sad to see affordable housing being crushed. You know?"

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Stancil has lived at the Marina since 1986.

"In my particular situation, I'm on a retirement income and it's not quite enough to rent a house in Silicon Valley," he admitted.

So, he's standing with the rest of Docktown's dwindling community in a legal battle against Redwood City.

He said, "Every tenant that's still here doesn't want any money. We just want to stay."

"The feeling is that we're not wanted here," resident Dan Slanker said.

He and his family have spent eight years at Docktown.

He said the trouble started with a lawsuit by a resident in a recently built condo across the Marina. The lawsuit alleged Docktown violated public land use laws.

Redwood City settled the suit, saying it would provide relocation assistance to boat owners.

"Since the Docktown plan, which was 2016, that has been when things have really gone downhill from there," Slanker explained. "Which I suppose should've been a relocation plan instead of a displacement plan."

"Displacement is second only to the loss of a loved one," Slanker added. "And it seems like we just keep getting more and more people displaced as time goes on and even less and less compensation."

He said, "I think that something could be worked out there if there was effort involved."

Many of the floating homes have since been purchased by the City and resold to investors with the understanding the so-called "liveaboards" would leave the Marina.

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The City recently told ABC7 News, "Vessels sold to the City are re-sold and moved to another marina whenever possible; there are no immediate plans to remove vessels owned by the City. We don't have any immediate plan to demolish the rest of the empty floating homes."

However, a short distance from Docktown, residents led ABC7 News to a demolition site.

"It's truly ripping at our heart," resident Marcus Vargas said about the demolition. "It's the crushing of a dream. The crushing of our souls."

Vargas has spent more than four years at Docktown.

"It was a true community that was here. Now, we feel isolated, we feel desperate, and it's very lonely now out here," he added. "If you look around, all the slips that are empty and all the boats that are gone."

He said the group of remaining residents are often referred to as "the bitter-enders."

"We work here, we live here. We're part of the community," Vargas added. "And it seems like they don't want us here."

The City released an update to ABC7 News which read:

"The land was granted to the City by the State for public use. Liveaboard tenants have been offered relocation benefits to air their transition; at this time, eleven tenants have not agreed to move and these tenants, along with others, are involved in litigation with the City. No individuals relocated from Docktown last week; some unoccupied vessels sold to the City by former tenants were removed. The City is continuing to respond to legal challenges and striving to comply with State law."

Docktown residents argue, besides wanting residents out, the City is also taking away much needed options for affordable housing.

They say instead of demolishing the structures, the City should consider allowing the homes to be used for affordable housing.

"They could've provided housing for first responders, for teachers," Vargas said. "They could've provided housing, low-income housing in different ways... But they don't want us here."

ABC7 News asked Redwood City about what official plans are in place for the future of the Docktown Area. This web article will be updated to reflect the City's response.

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