Techies fed up with high rents turn to boats on the San Francisco Bay

Living at sea? The Bay Area housing crisis is causing many people to come up with creative solutions. That includes ditching homes on land and choosing to live on a boat; much of the time illegally.

We all know how expensive it is to live here. You can sleep on the water legally, but the wait list for a permit at Pier 39 is about three years now. It’s why so many young techies are grabbing their motion sickness pills and jumping on a sailboat.

Just imagine, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 are your alarm clock every morning.

Home for Edward Agadjanian is a 42-foot vessel called the Euphoria. He moved in about a year ago and has grown the sea beard to match.

“My wife likes it,” he said with a laugh.

The 42-foot vessel has a television, a microwave, two very modestly sized bedrooms, and even a bathtub, which means there’s water inside his home and right outside the window, too.

But he says keeping up with maintenance is a constant struggle.

“There are always unexpected costs that come up,” he said. “Things that are exposed to salt water wear a lot quicker than you’d think. It all adds up, somewhere close to $2,000 a month.”

At Pier 39, only 10 percent of the boats can be used as homes in something like a neighborhood watch program. The harbormaster tells us the wait list has never been longer than it is now.

“We used to get maybe one or two calls a month for people asking about liveaboards,” said Pier 39 Harbormaster Sheila Chandor. “Now we get about 20 a day. Everybody’s struggling to find affordable places to live.”

“Sometimes they are just trying to sneak aboard,” said Agadjanian. “Am I suspicious of people doing it around here? Yeah.”

Sneaking around the system are people like a young techie who posted photos on Instagram of her new, illegal home. It’s the only way she could afford to live here. She agreed to Skype with ABC7 News, but only if we blurred her face.

“I knew some other people who were doing this,” she said. “So it seemed like a feasible solution. It’s just the magic of waking up on the water every day.”

She says she’s paying about $350 a month for that magic, not bad.

But Agadjanian says he wishes people would think twice before swapping a view of a front lawn for a wheel.

“The two happiest days in a man’s life is a day he buys a boat and the day he sells a boat,” he said.

So, are there any consequences? ABC7 News spoke with Bob Batha at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. In his 38 years, he can’t recall anyone ever getting arrested for illegally living on a boat.

Meanwhile, fines fall on the marina and those can reach tens of thousands of dollars.

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