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Homeless Encampment Leads to Cancellation of Sausalito Art Festival

SAUSALITO (KPIX) -- Officials on Monday announced that the Sausalito Art Festival has been canceled for the second year in a row.

Last year, it was because of COVID. This year, a homeless encampment has displaced the annual event.

It's a growing issue in the entire Bay Area, but also in Marin County where homeless encampments have been built in parks and public land. Now the popular art festival finds itself with no place to call home.

"We spent a tremendous amount of time dealing with COVID, but a homeless encampment moving into the park, we never saw that one coming," said Louis Briones, Sausalito Art Festival Foundation Chair.

Briones says it had a license to use Marinship Park for the Labor Day weekend event. But with the possibility of a homeless encampment at Dunphy Park being relocated half a mile to Marinship, the festival was called off.

"We are uncertain as to whether we will have a festival location or not," said Briones.

Whether in Sausalito or up in Novato where there is a community is called Camp Compassion, homeless encampments are becoming more visible in Marin County.

Dunphy Park started with one tent and that encampment has grown to roughly 40 during the pandemic.

"It became full time when I lost my apartment at the beginning of COVID, and yeah, it sucks," said Arthur Bruce.

The Dunphy Park site has become a well entrenched tent city, including a makeshift kitchen and a mini gym. Bruce has a small boat anchored out on Richardson Bay, but considers the encampment his second home.

"I have a two-year-old daughter and I couldn't afford rent and daycare all at the same time," Bruce explained.

Robbie Powelson, the President of the Marin County Homeless Union, said he fears the population at this Dunphy Park site will grow with the eviction moratorium expected to end at the next month.

"We're being disposed in our communities. Our communities are being stolen from underneath us by a system that is not working out," said Powelson.

Organizers of the Sausalito Art Festival hope the event will be back next year. Meanwhile, Powelson is planning to hold the Rainbow Bay Art Festival instead at Dunphy Park.

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