I was on Twitter the other night and came across a tweet by ABC7 anchor and reporter Dion Lim. It was a photo of private dock with an astounding view of the Bay. The tweet read:
“Imagine this is the view from your backyard. Now imagine a homeless person crashing a boat into your deck & asking for a peanut butter sandwich! Neighbors in Belvedere say incidents like this are happening more often.”
Belvedere is one of the wealthiest places in the Bay Area, which makes it one of the wealthiest places in the country, so not only did this really tickle me, it left me with so many questions. Who were these homeless people and where were they getting boats? Is this how the revolution starts, not with a guillotine but with a peanut butter sandwich?
So I tweeted a snarky response.
Then I did a little research and found that, to my surprise, there is indeed a homeless armada…kinda.
Floating in Richardson Bay, the little body of water between Sausalito and Belvedere, are about 200 boats that serve as the homes for a community who call themselves Anchor-Outs – Anchor-Out being the term for people who live rent free on boats they anchor off shore. According to Dion Lim’s story on ABC7, as homelessness has risen in the Bay Area (by as much as 43 percent in Contra Costa County in the past two years), so have the amount of Anchor-Outs. While there have been people living that Anchor-Out life style since the Gold Rush, the issue has become more pronounced and contentious as the Bay Area’s income inequality has grown more staggering.
While the controversy surrounding the Anchor-Out community is complicated and involves legitimate environmental and safety concerns, I think it’s fantastic that the people in Belvedere are finally having to face a problem that they all benefit from, and helped create.
Part of the rise in homelessness that is plaguing the Bay Area, and other regions in the US, is the culmination of over 40 years of the most affluent in our country consolidating even more wealth. According to Fortune, during this time the average CEO of a large US company has come to make 271 times more than the average worker. These CEOs are earning 930 percent more than they were in 1978. Plus, while their pay has risen, the ruling class has used their money to influence elections and fund lobbyists, rigging the system so that they also get major tax breaks.
In Belvedere, the median home value in is $3.5 million. These are among the very wealthiest in our society. So once again, even if these people haven’t directly or purposefully created this extreme inequality (insert me rolling my eyes), they sure as hell have benefited from it. And as a reminder, the people of Marin county constantly block the creation of new housing.
If the only repercussions they experience from two generations of rapaciousness are peanut butter pirates popping by their private docks, and a bit of unintentional damage to said dock, they are getting off extremely easy. If you’re rich enough to have a private dock on the San Francisco Bay (really, imagine that), you should hire someone full time, with benefits and 401k, just to make PB&J sandwiches and hand them out all day long.
Because here’s the thing, once poor people finally realize how rich the one percent really is, they wouldn’t be able to build guillotines fast enough.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list: http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. He is a guest opinion columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.