Illegally anchored boats causing issues for residents in Richardson Bay

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- Homelessness is becoming an increasingly visible issue. In our efforts to build a Better Bay Area, Contra Costa County revealed that the number of homeless went up 43-percent in the last two years.

Neighboring Alameda County is reporting a similar increase. There have also been increases in Santa Clara and San Francisco. While Marin County reported a decrease, there's one neighborhood that's experiencing homelessness to the extreme: on the water.

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According to the Sausalito Police Department, there are about 200 illegally anchored boats in Richardson Bay. Many of them are occupied by the homeless.

Connie Strycker and her husband have lived in Belvedere for 40 years and love the view from outside their window. But for years, and especially lately it's been a different story.

"We never thought we would be in a frightening place I guess," Says Strycker.

For years "anchor-outs", unmoored, unregistered boats, often occupied by the homeless get loose in storms, travel across Richardson Bay and crash into Strycker's and her neighbor's docks.

Pam Robertson, Connie's neighbor has lived nearby for 20 years and has seen her share of issues.

"We've had numerous boats over 10 hit our house and over $20,000 worth of damage."

There are also consequences to the environment. A new study by Audubon California shows they're damaging up to 41-percent of the seafloor.

"The dumping of hazardous materials and human waste is a huge concern. We have seen a big change in wildlife here in the past three years." Says Pam.

But what is most concerning is the homeless, according to Connie and Pam are now invading their privacy.

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"They come right up and come over to the deck and bang on our doors asking for things...they'll say 'do you have any water? I could use a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-- could you spare a little something,'" Says Strycker.

Beth Pollard is with the Richardson Bay Regional Agency says she is unfamiliar with the homeless knocking on residents doors. But promise steps are being taken to help, like commissioning what she describes as the largest, most comprehensive mooring study to help better identify problem areas and how to tackle them.

Back at Strycker's, where she shows us the amount of debris her husband has collected over the past few months from the anchor-outs, jokingly calling it a personal recycling center, she hopes her concerns don't fall on deaf ears again.

"Nobody quite knows what to do about it... we can do better but I don't know how."

The study commissioned by the Richardson Bay Regional Agency should be complete by this summer.

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