State Senate floats bill to preserve all houseboats

The Seattle TimesMarch 1, 2014 

Sharing her 30x12-foot houseboat with Ms. Diva, her cocker spaniel companion and shipmate, Ginny Stern may face eviction from her West Bay Marina location due to an existing Dept. of Natural Resources' rule that residents can live aboard marine vessels, but not houseboats. She along with a number of other houseboat owners are challenging it and gaining help from several local government officials.

STEVE BLOOM; STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Houseboat owners on Lake Union and other state waters would be able to stay in their homes if a Senate bill passes.

Owners on Lake Union became worried about what it could mean for them when the city of Seattle started drafting new shorelines policies three years ago and questions came up about whether houseboats were a good use of limited marina space.

Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, sponsored a 2011 bill to provide grandfathered protection to floating homes, but left out houseboats. Floating homes are usually stationary and connected to utilities and sewer, while houseboats have a means of propulsion.

Pederson said he didn’t “understand what kinds of structures were down there” and unintentionally excluded live-aboard vessels and barges.

People who regulate shorelines, he said, have now assumed that local governments should not accommodate movable houseboats.

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