Tensions flare as homeless encampment along Sausalito waterfront is cleared

A homeless encampment on Sausalito's waterfront was cleared Tuesday, but those who lived there protested the move. They said they feel their rights were violated.

The site, which is located just south of Dunphy Park, was sealed off and the people who lived there were forced to relocate to a camp about a mile north.

Sausalito police arrived at the encampment in the morning with orders to move the remaining people living there out.

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Residents and homeless advocates said they created a community in the space.

"This is a battle, but this is just a battle, this isn't the end no matter what happens," said Jeff Jacob Chase. "We were able to unify in a way that we had never been unified under pressure and that's usually how it happens."    

Crews put up cyclone fencing around the site and once that was in place officers moved in to remove the residents, and in some cases carrying them out.

"They're just completely violating the law by rolling in here after giving us a notice for the property next door, there's nobody camped on the property next door," said Jewel Eggink with the California Homeless Union. "This is just a right of way that we're camped in, and then this is a different property that wasn't in the order, the private property owner that wrote a letter that said, ‘I also want them removed.’"

The encampment started in December of 2020, and Sausalito's efforts to remove the tents in February were halted after those encamped at the site filed a lawsuit. The judge cleared the way to remove the site and relocate the residents a month ago. At one point about three dozen people lived south of Dunphy Park.

The city said those settled at the site would be moved to nearby Marinship Park, where programs are already in place to offer outreach to those experiencing homelessness and where there are better amenities.

"Marinship Park has the benefit of actual working toilets, flushing toilets," said Sausalito Mayor Jill Hoffman. "So, hygienically and health-wise that's a huge driver. Marinship is where the twice a week mobile home and shower program is, and it has been since 2018."

Since it hasn't been decided how long the unhoused residents will remain at Marinship Park, the Sausalito Art Festival which customarily takes place there over the Labor Day Weekend has been canceled.