Did Sausalito forsake its homeless residents for Hollywood?
On Aug. 15, Sausalito closed its city-sanctioned homeless camp, which was located on the tennis courts at the corner of Marinship Way and Testa Street. Days later, a film production crew rolled into town and set up its base camp on the opposite corner of the intersection, just 105 feet from the former homeless encampment.
Anthony Prince, attorney for the Sausalito Homeless Union, doesn’t think the encampment closure and the arrival of the film crew occurring almost simultaneously is a coincidence. The union is concerned that the city’s insistence on the homeless residents leaving by Aug. 15 may be linked to an existing agreement with the film production company.
The Sausalito Homeless Union and the City of Sausalito were involved in a lawsuit, which was settled on Aug. 5 after the city agreed to pay $540,000 to house 30 homeless people for approximately six months. Prince said the city began to harden its position on the Aug. 15 deadline when the two parties were close to an agreement. The city said the entire settlement would be at risk unless the union went along with the date, according to Prince.
“The city was adamant they would not change that date, even when it was demonstrated that there wasn’t enough time to find people housing,” Prince said. “Twice I requested an extension after the agreement. They said ‘no,’ and refused to reveal a reason.”
Sausalito Mayor Janelle Kellman told the Pacific Sun that the film crew had nothing to do with the deadline to move the encampment.
However, Kellman said the city has known since March that an Apple+ mini-series, The Last Thing He Told Me starring Jennifer Garner, would be setting up a base camp and filming in Sausalito.
It also appears the film production company was aware of the homeless camp’s existence.
“When they later heard the tennis court was emptied, they requested to set up their equipment in Marinship Park,” Kellman said. “The City of Sausalito denied that request.”
Of course, the city couldn’t allow the production’s base camp in Marinship Park because it’s contaminated with fecal matter and closed until the restoration is complete.
Prince says the rushed closure of the encampment pushed people into motel rooms, which has used a significant portion of the housing assistance funds received from Sausalito. If the city had given the union more time, the money could have been better allocated to durable housing, according to Prince.
On Aug. 29, Prince notified the city that they were required to preserve evidence of its relationship to the filming production company. That could signify a legal battle is once again brewing.
“The deadline of Aug. 15 was separately negotiated with Mr. Prince and again, had absolutely nothing to do with a film crew,” Kellman said.