Floating home leaves landlubbers in fits, with few solutions in view 

Vincent Lackey’s houseboat is apparently stuck in mud in San Francisco Bay waters off Shoreline Park in India Basin. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Vincent Lackey’s houseboat is apparently stuck in mud in San Francisco Bay waters off Shoreline Park in India Basin.

Two months ago, Vincent Lackey moved his house to India Basin — literally. Lackey’s two-story houseboat now sits in the middle of India Basin, roughly 50 feet from land and Shoreline Park. It’s also stuck in the mud.

And now neighbors say the home is not welcome.

Lackey said he’s been building the houseboat over the past 20 years and hopes to turn it into a floating restaurant, the San Francisco Bay Sanctuary restaurant. It would be parked at Pier 1 in time for the America’s Cup in 2013.

The biggest complaint he’s heard, Lackey said, is about the 3,000-square-foot dome addition at the pier that would allow for concerts.

“The guy I’ve got singing has a voice like Tony Bennett,” he said.

Alas, Lackey said, his dreams have hit a snag. He moored the boat in India Basin several weeks ago, hoping to work on the restaurant there. Lackey said he knows the neighbors’ concerns and hopes to move out of San Francisco waters soon.

An attempt to dislodge the vessel Tuesday from what Lackey said was 16 inches of mud was unsuccessful. On Wednesday morning, the houseboat appeared to have turned 90 degrees from its original position, yet remained in the water off Shoreline Park.

The community has not been impressed with Lackey’s efforts.

India Basin Neighborhood Association President Michael Hamman said Lackey insisted his restaurant-building plan would work out for everyone, but that has not been the case.

“It’s a big nuisance,” Hamman said of the houseboat, “and probably some sort of health hazard.”

The floating home had been tied up illegally at Pier 96 since November, the Port of San Francisco said, adding that Lackey only came forward claiming ownership when officials tried to have it salvaged.

Renee Dunn Martin, spokeswoman for the Port, said Lackey has told them he plans to move to a private pier, but that location is unknown. She said that on Monday, Lackey proved he owned and had registered the boat.

The problem now is that no department will take responsibility for removing the boat, leaving it to remain an eyesore, Hamman said.

“There’s no clear line of authority” he said.

The cost of docking a boat on Port property can be expensive. One the size of Lackey’s boat would cost the owner $225 per day at one of the Port’s facilities.

And the cost to remove the vessel could reach $20,000, according to the office of Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose district includes the area.

India Basin residents were recently told that Cohen’s office is encouraging the Port to obtain the title on the boat in order to remove it.

“The City needs to obtain title before it can seize the vessel to ensure that we are not liable for property damage in a subsequent law suit from the property owner,” the statement from Cohen’s office said.

It’s unknown if the boat is occupied, as Lackey said he now lives in the East Bay.

After attempting to move the boat from the mud Tuesday, Lackey — who was originally dressed in a sweatshirt and torn jeans — returned to shore in a white-collared shirt and khaki pants.


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