What are the basics of the DNR argument?
The DNR is arguing that liveaboards are trespassing on public property based on a definition in the 1984 Aquatic Lands Act forbidding the construction of buildings on state-owned property on or near the shore. These are classed as non-water dependent uses (specifically citing "hotels, condominiums, apartments, restaurants, retail stores, and warehouses not part of a marine terminal"). When leases with the state are renewed or transferred, the DNR is refusing to renew the lease unless the marina prohibits liveaboards on the state-owned portion of the marina. Jennifer Belcher, the director of the DNR, has also made several other claims. These include the notion that residential use on vessels presumably cause pollution on the waterways, that they inhibit recreational boaters, and that they impede navigation (particularly in areas where boats are tied to anchoring buoys). The DNR has made statements that liveaboards do not pay enough rent (income for the DNR), and Belcher has made several calls for more staffing at the DNR during this campaign.
What is the flaw in this argument?
The laws of Washington do not prohibit residential use on a vessel over public waters, in fact, the laws *protect* such use. The definition used by the DNR shows intent by the legislature to keep *buildings* from blocking the shoreline and inhibiting enjoyment of the aquatic heritage in Washington. Washington Administrative Code explicity states that piers for residential use will be permitted, without any restriction as to frequency, and the DNR is directed to proactively establish anchorages for both residential and transient use (WAC 332-30). Liveaboards are therefore not trespassers, or "squatters". Those at marinas have leases based on price per foot with additional DNR fees and liveaboard fees, and those costs are comparable to apartment life. Liveaboards are held to a higher standard in preventing pollution, and, as residents, are the ones who provide the best stewardship of the water. They offer the first line of defense against damage from storms or fire, provide security against theft and other crime, and are therefore a deterent to increases in insurance rates. Preventing people from the amount of time spent on their vessels would do nothing to improve navigation, since the vessels would remain on the water. It would do nothing to promote recreational use of Washington's waters.
What are boaters doing in response?
- we have formed this Liveaboard Association
- hundreds of emails and letters are being sent to state politicians and to the press
- L.A.P.S. has hired an attorney and will take this issue to court
- the L.A.P.S. executive committee meets weekly, and we have general meetings monthly
- L.A.P.S. members have appeared on every major media outlet in the Puget Sound
- much more coming! See our "TAKE ACTION!" section for more.
How can I help?Contribute to our legal defense fund
Volunteer on one of our action committees
Write or call your State Representative and Senators
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper
See our "TAKE ACTION!" section for more