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Thursday, March 7, 2024



Removal of floating homes part a key provision in Agreement between Richardson Bay Regional Agency and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

Sausalito, CA—Earlier this month, the last floating home in Richardson Bay was brought into shore, marking a major milestone in the effort to transition vessels off the water, as mandated by state authorities.


In 2021, the Richardson Bay Regional Agency (RBRA) entered into an Agreement with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), stipulating that all vessels and floating homes be removed from the anchorage by October 26, 2026, except those abiding by 72-hour time restrictions.

That agreement specifically noted that the four floating homes in Richardson Bay be removed, and with the last such structure now turned over to RBRA for proper disposal, that goal has been officially reached.

“Removing the floating homes from Richardson Bay was an important benchmark of our agreement with BCDC, and we are pleased to complete this chapter of the work,” said RBRA Board Chair Jim Lynch. “We are making significant progress in our goal to protect our environment while making Richardson Bay a safe and accessible place for everyone to enjoy.”

The Agreement with BCDC was driven in large part by the need to protect the eelgrass ecosystem of Richardson Bay. Eelgrass is a critical component of a healthy and vibrant Richardson Bay. It supports herring runs, reduces erosion, sequesters carbon and is a crucial ecological resource for harbor porpoises and sea lions. In addition, tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds rely on the eelgrass of Richardson Bay for feeding and resting during migration along the Pacific Flyway.

However, when anchors, chains, and other ground tackle from vessels scrape along the Bay bottom, they essentially act as a lawn mower for all living plants. This creates “crop circles” or barren areas where no eelgrass can grow.

To combat those impacts and provide an opportunity for eelgrass to recover, the RBRA created an “Eelgrass Protection Zone” (EPZ) in Richardson Bay where no anchoring is allowed. In Richardson Bay, there is an area four times the size of Alcatraz where eelgrass has been destroyed by anchor scour, but that expanse is no longer increasing, because of various efforts to protect the EPZ. The floating home that was recently retrieved was located in the EPZ illegally.

The RBRA is actively working to restore and protect the eelgrass environment through the support of a $2.8 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

When the Agreement with BCDC was signed, there were hundreds of boats in Richardson Bay, but thanks to several efforts led by the RBRA, that number has now been reduced to 32, as of March 1.

With the help of $3 million in state funds, the RBRA was able to establish an innovative housing voucher program this year, allowing eight boaters previously living on the water to move into safe, secure housing on land. Another eight individuals are actively participating in the program, which is supported by funding secured by State Senator Mike McGuire.

Additionally, 16 vessels have been purchased by the RBRA through its Vessel Buyback Program, which offers eligible participants money based on the length of their boat, or floating home ($150 per foot) if they turn their vessel into RBRA for proper disposal. To date, about $100,000 has been disbursed to boat owners as part of the program.

“We continue to take a compassionate and collaborative approach to working with individuals living on the water and we are seeing the results,” said RBRA Executive Director Brad Gross. “They understand that if they work together with the RBRA, we can find them secure housing and provide them with additional funds through the Vessel Buyback program. Not only are we complying with our state mandates, but we’re also doing so in a way that is mindful of the community.”

As part of the Agreement with the BCDC, which has jurisdiction over regional coastal policies, all vessels must relocate from the EPZ effective October 15, 2024. That same agreement stipulates that a small number of vessels that participated in the Safe and Seaworthy program will be allowed to remain in the designated anchorage after that deadline. However, by October 26, 2026, the anchorage will convert to a 72-hour anchorage for all vessels.


The Richardson Bay Regional Agency (RBRA) is a local government agency serving Belvedere, Mill Valley, Tiburon, and unincorporated Southern Marin County. RBRA is dedicated to maintaining and improving the navigational waterways, open waters, and shoreline of Richardson Bay.

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