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Alameda officials vote to protect Barnhill Marina houseboat renters

Alameda votes to protect houseboat renters 02:36

ALAMEDA (KPIX) -- The city of Alameda has stepped in to put an end to a bitter battle over rising rents, much to the relief of residents of the Barnhill Marina.

After a months-long battle, those who live in an Alameda community of floating homes will get to relax.

"Beyond happy. Beyond joyful. Beyond proud of the people in this community," said resident Susan Driscoll. "Everybody chipped in, in one way or another, whether it was a letter or a call."

The 66 residents of the Barnhill Marina, many of whom are seniors and living on fixed incomes, tell KPIX 5 a new owner took over marina operations at the beginning of the year and wanted to significantly raise their rents.

"It went from 29% at the low end, to 178% -- or almost 3 times - at the high end," said Liz Williams, who has lived at the marina for 34 years. "Floating homes kind of, exist in a black hole in California law. We have some protections, but not adequate protections against unwanted and exorbitant rent increases and fees."

Walter Knox, a resident at Barnhill for 40 years, said he was on the highest end of the spectrum.

"It basically would have made a large bunch of us homeless in a very short period of time," he said. "We couldn't have stayed here. Most of us couldn't have stayed here. There's just no way."

But that isn't going to happen, for now at least.

"The Alameda City Council made a decision to include us under their rent-stabilization ordinance," said Williams.

The decision gives the renters at Barnhill Marina the same legal protections as renters of other dwellings in the city.

"They protected us big time," Knox said.

Driscoll, Knox, and Williams all praised their neighbors.

"I feel jubilant. Grateful. So grateful for my neighbors. Everyone here pulled together," Williams said.

KPIX 5 reached out to the property owner, but has not heard back as of early Friday evening.

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