Redwood City says floating home community violates state law

A court fight between owners of floating homes being evicted from a marina and the city of Redwood City may never get to court because the time and expense could overwhelm the homeowners. The once cherished California dream and Bohemian charm of living on a floating home, is becoming more and more unattainable.

Until recently, as seen in 2016 drone footage, Redwood City's Docktown Marina was once a thriving, mostly working class floating community on an estuary just off Redwood Creek. The city has held the land in trust for the state for 75 years and operated the marina itself for the last seven. But now, the city says allowing people to live aboard the floating homes and boats violates state law.

"The city doesn't want us here and they're trying to kick us out," said Marcus Vargas, a working caterer's chef and a Docktown Marina resident for more than four years. "Live aboard status in the marina here, that had let it go for 50 years then suddenly, selectively decided to enforce the non-live aboard status recently," said Mr. Vargas.

All but 10 residents have left and the holdouts have filed lawsuits to stay. "Pretty much the writing is on the wall. We're just trying to cling and hold on and, hopefully, the city will let us stay and maintain the marina and upkeep it and be the stewards of the water here," said Vargas.

Right next to the "live aboards" community a developer plans to build as many as 130 homes homes that would be in direct sight of the live aboards marina, homes that could be very expensive ones. The city bought many of the live aboard homes, some for over a million dollars. But, the city then resold them to investors for cheap provided the new owners haul them away out of the area.

"So they spent $20 million and recovered next to nothing on that," said Vargas.

A city spokesperson was not available and housing is a critical issue here.

"We had affordable living out here in the Bay Area where, if you look around, there's RV's everywhere. People are living on the street and we had a place they broke up and they sent people scattering in the wind so the could do more development out here," said Vargas. "We're teachers, we're cooks, we're the working class people here in the Bay Area and once they kick us out, who's gonna serve you? Who's gonna cook for you? Who's gonna take care of you? Who indeed."