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Wilmington marina tenants ship out

May 1 was the deadline for boats and live-aboards to vacate Colonial Yacht Anchorage, deemed unsafe by the L.A. Harbor Department. For some, finding a new home wasn't easy.

May 02, 2012|By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times
  • Bob Salisbury, one of the last of the live-aboard residents of Colonial Yacht Anchorage, wheels his possesions past empty slips on the official eviction day in Wilmington.
Bob Salisbury, one of the last of the live-aboard residents of Colonial… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

On Tuesday morning, 80-year-old Bobby Salisbury took the last of his items from his boat moored at Colonial Yacht Anchorage in Wilmington and stuffed them inside his gray Nissan off-road truck.

"I'm the happiest guy today," he said sarcastically.

For years, Salisbury has lived at the marina. Then last month, the Los Angeles Harbor Department ordered him and more than 90 other tenants to leave by May 1, calling the dock and 138 slips in Berth 204 too dilapidated to be safe.

Port officials learned about the state of Berth 204 after it took over the property in March, when the previous owners — the Camello family — forfeited the land after failing to pay rent for two years. Officials say the family owes about $400,000.

Maria Camello, president of Colonial Yacht Anchorage Inc., could not be reached for comment.

For weeks, Salisbury and other live-aboard tenants struggled to find new homes for their boats, mostly because they couldn't afford to live elsewhere or other marinas didn't have space.

One of the obstacles was a city-imposed 5% cap on live-aboard tenants for each marina operator.

Harbor officials, however, said they decided to waive the live-aboard limit for operators who could take in the beleaguered boaters, and free housing services would be provided for those unable to relocate by the deadline.

"It is the Port's understanding that all live-aboards have now found alternative housing," port officials said in a statement.

But that wasn't quite the case for Salisbury.

"We've basically hit a wall," said Salisbury's son, Daniel, 49. "There's a lien on his boat and he has to walk away from it."

His father will stay with Daniel's mother, "which is a problem," Daniel said. "It's his ex-wife."

Standing near his truck, Bobby Salisbury was not happy as the end-of-day deadline approached.

"I'm getting shingles because of this crap," he said, yanking on his shirt collar.

There were still nearly two dozen boats in the marina Tuesday afternoon. Port officials, however, said most would be gone by morning.

Harold Hazelton, 76, is one live-aboard from Berth 204 who with his wife managed to move to a nearby marina.

"What a bummer, man," he said, gazing at the empty slips one last time. "I had 35 years here."

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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