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CYOA - Puget Sound Disaster

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  • Chris McKesson, C-36, Bremerton WA
    Washington boaters, I am really mad! Read the following and tell me what we can do: State will evict liveaboards By Todd Westbrook, For The Sun Local marinas
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31 10:16 AM
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      Washington boaters, I am really mad! Read the following and tell me
      what we can do:

      State will evict liveaboards
      By Todd Westbrook, For The Sun

      Local marinas on state waters will have to ban liveaboard residents
      when their leases expire.
      The clock is ticking for Washington residents who live on their boats
      above state-owned waters, including hundreds in Kitsap County.

      Officials with the Department of Natural Resources say marina and
      anchor-out liveaboards over state bedlands will be forced to move,
      sooner or later.

      Acting on a 1984 law that directs DNR to manage state-owned aquatic
      lands in favor of "water-dependent" uses, the agency that oversees all
      public waters last week served eviction notices on 50 marina
      liveaboards in Lake Union.

      The action was the end result of a policy that applies to anyone living
      in a boat over state waters, said Commissioner of Public Lands Jennifer
      Belcher.

      In Kitsap County alone, nearly 40 marinas hold a conservative estimate
      of 300 liveaboards. The vast majority are located in state-owned
      tidelands.

      The DNR policy could force liveaboards throughout the waters and
      marinas of West Sound to either seek moorage in the increasingly
      crowded marinas over private water or give up life on their vessels.

      Belcher said that while DNR was not actively pursuing compliance with
      the 1984 law at this time, whenever the issues arises it will be dealt
      with in a manner similar to that used in Lake Union.

      "We are not out there looking for these people," she said. "But when we
      come across people doing something illegal we are saying: you can't do
      that."

      The Lake Union action, in which about 50 liveaboards have been given
      until June to move, is the first time the 1984 law has been used to
      force people off of their boats. Under that law, DNR is directed to
      discourage any use of state-owned aquatic lands that is not strictly
      dependent on the water itself.

      That, according to Belcher, includes living on your boat.

      "Living on a boat is not a water-dependent use," she said. "You can
      live anywhere."

      Betsi Beem, a Bainbridge Island Harbor Commissioner and a marina
      liveaboard, finds that notion absurd. "I can't think of anything more
      water-dependent than a boat," she said. "I don't think this is an
      accurate interpretation."

      Beem added that what happened in Lake Union should ring alarm bells
      across the state.

      "Every boater in Washington that is living on DNR bedlands should be
      concerned," she said. "This is the first step in what will probably be
      a statewide campaign to move people off of their boats."

      Belcher offered no solace. "Do we really want to turn public lands ...
      into places where people want to put up permanent residences? I think
      the answer is no," she said.

      Accordingly the agency will, when renegotiating bedlands leases with
      marina owners, insist that liveaboard populations go.

      "When the lease is up, they (the marinas) are going to be back in legal
      compliance," Belcher said.

      Liberty Bay Marina in Poulsbo renegotiated its lease with DNR in
      September 1999. Under the terms of that document, the marina's
      liveaboard population was capped at eight, said Ralph Swanson, property
      manager of the firm that owns the marina.

      "Our policy is we're not taking any more," Swanson said.

      The same firm has a facility on Lake Union, Swanson said. Under the
      terms of the same lease the four liveaboards residing at the company's
      Lake Union facility are to be "phased out."

      Swanson understood the necessity to restrict liveaboard communities —
      "obviously if you could allow liveaboards, you would fill your marina
      overnight" — but did not believe they were damaging the ecosystem, as
      is sometimes claimed.

      "In our marina liveaboards are a minor contaminant to what DNR imagines
      them to be. The impact of a liveaboard is minor compared to 98 percent
      of marina users that aren't liveaboards," Swanson said.

      "The liveaboards we've had are more concerned about water quality than
      anybody else we've had."

      Whatever DNR's timetable, the idea isn't floating with liveaboards.

      "People are concerned," Betsi Beem said. "What the DNR is doing is
      destroying communities and neighborhoods. It is a gross injustice and
      there is no logic behind it."
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