Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Regulating the Richardson’s Bay Anchorage

The Spanish Helmet was part
of the earlier anchor-out scene.

By Larry Clinton 

In 2008, there were 98 vessels anchored off Sausalito, under the supervision of the Richardson Bay Regional Agency. By 2014, following the closure of other anchorages around the Bay, that number had ballooned to 205, far exceeding the RBRA’s budget and manpower capacity.

In March, the RBRA had a public workshop to begin addressing this situation. Various problems were identi- fied, including environmental concerns, health and safety issues, as well as public safety and law enforcement challenges.

There was consensus that regulations related to permitted anchoring and vessel safety are not being properly or consistently enforced in the anchorage. Causes cited included a shortage of enforcement staff as well as a lack of clarity around who has regulatory power and authority. Given the large number of state and local agencies involved in coastal planning and management, there is a sense that “no one is in charge.” 

Numerous strategies were discussed to address regulatory issues, the primary one being to install a mooring field managed by a government agency with special regulations related to tenants, guests and residents. This is similar to a plan proposed by then-Supervisor Charles McGlashan about six years ago. That plan was rejected by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which in- sisted that permanent or long-term anchor-outs constitute illegal Bay fill. Whether that attitude would still prevail today remains an unanswered question.

The RBRA is attempting to establish a Stakeholder Advisory Committee to study all this further and recommend possible solutions. The Advisory Committee will be made up of volunteers from each of the constituencies on or around Richardson’s Bay, including the anchor-outs and the floating homes community. If you are interested in getting involved with this process, please contact FHA President Katherine Boschetto at