Alameda Floating Homes Get Rent Control

Barnhill Residents now enjoy stabilized berth rents | photo from | post by Larry Clinton

Residents of the Barnhill Marina floating homes community reached out to the city of Alameda earlier this month after being told their rent could be hiked at least 30% by the harbor’s new owner.

The marina had long been owned by the Barnhill family. Its patriarch, Audley Vernon “Barney” Barnhill, bought the then-dilapidated boatyard in the 1960s and renamed it Barnhill Marina and Boatyard. Barnhill’s wife, Lai, was the CEO of the company when it dissolved in January. In December, the Barnhill family sold the property to an anonymous limited liability company in Wyoming called BHM&S LLC for $9.1 million. Seven days later, BHM&S sold three of the four marina parcels to Valley Investments-Redwoods LLC for $12.75 million, according to Bay Area News Group.

Half the residents are over age 65, and several are low-income, having compared their situation to that of mobile home residents who also typically own their homes but lease space in the Bay Area’s few remaining affordable pockets. The Floating Homes Residency Law, which provides some tenant protections but not rent control, was based on the Mobile Homes Residency Law and shepherded through the state legislature by the Sausalito Floating Homes Association.

Mayumi Stroye, a member of Barnhill Marina’s fair rent team, said during Thursday’s meeting that the average monthly rent is $608 and the new landlord wanted to increase that to $1,074.

Passed in 2019, Alameda’s rent stabilization ordinance caps how much rent can be raised annually, protects tenants from eviction without just cause, requires relocation assistance if tenants must be moved, regulates buyout agreements and prohibits landlord retaliation against tenants.

The residents’ efforts were successful; the city council unanimously decided Thursday to apply Alameda’s rent stabilization ordinance and COVID-19 eviction moratorium to the dockside houses of 66 residents at the marina near Mariner Square Drive.