Longtime liveaboards to be kicked out of Laishley Marina

Jules

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Punta Gorda
City deal with state leaves liveaboards high and dry

PUNTA GORDA, FL — Longtime Punta Gorda liveaboards at Laishley Marina say they may soon be homeless following Wednesday’s meeting of the Punta Gorda City Council.

“I have no marina to go to and there are three- to five-year waiting lists at other marinas,” Jeff Pitt told The Daily Sun. “They’re kicking me out of the slip where I pay monthly fees to live and I’m always on time.”

He said he, his son and his dog are in dire straits now.

“I define homeless as being not hooked up to electric and having stability — that’s ‘homeless’ and that’s us now,”

Pitt said. Through rental agreements, Pitt said he and dozens of others have lived for years on their vessels in the 17 residential slips at the Laishley Park Municipal Marina, 120 Laishley Court.

Other liveaboards also hook up to the city’s east mooring field in Charlotte Harbor.

The city operates both by leasing those portions of Charlotte Harbor — referred to as “submerged lands” — from the state.

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Punta Gorda’s Community Redevelopment Agency approved a new contract agreement for liveaboards looking to rent Laishley Marina docking

The decision, however, will oust most of those who currently live there because they have done so for more than six months.

For the city to maintain their submerged land lease with the state, liveaboards can only reside on their vessels for six out of 12 months, according to state regulations.

“If we don’t comply with the terms of our submerged land lease with the state and we lose our lease, then we close the Laishley Municipal Marina,” City Council Member Mark Kuharski said at the meeting. “That’s the consequence. This isn’t us kicking anybody out.”

The city’s CRA consists of the City Council and two other members, and serves as a taxing district responsible for development and other activities along Charlotte Harbor.

CRA approval essentially gives liveaboards around 90 days to relocate — 30 days for notice, 30 days to sign the agreement, and 30 days to leave, City Manager Greg Murray said.

“The submerged land lease of course was just renewed for another 10 years and that brought to light a lot of issues when the state did audits and various things,” Murray told The Daily Sun. “Now, what we are required to do is make sure we enforce what’s always been in there (like the six-month limitation).”

Liveaboards who have not reached the six-month limit will be allowed to stay for the time left on their current agreement.

David Nichols told The Daily Sun that won’t be the case for him and most other liveaboards.

“Mostly all of us have been there for more than six months,” he said. “So, literally, everybody who has been living here has got to go, according to what they just passed. ...Assuming there are around two people per vessel, around 30 people are being displaced.”

Bonnie Mackey has lived in Punta Gorda for 13 years, with the majority of that time as a liveaboard at Laishley.

“This is my home,” she said. “We work. We vote. We get our mail here ... we serve on jury duty. We’re a friendly and wonderful community.”

City Council Member Melissa Lockhart suggested those who can’t comply should find another marina or try mooring in Charlotte Harbor to the west of the U.S. 41 bridges — an area that is generally unregulated by local officials.

“She (Lockhart) said, ‘Oh, you have a boat that doesn’t make you homeless,’ but it does make us homeless,” Mackey said. “There are no other marinas ... it’s not what we signed up for.”

The CRA members directed city staff to see what options were available for purchasing the leased submerged lands from the state, but that is going to take time.

Nichols thought the purchase would be a good plan going forward.

“The idea of them purchasing would be freaking brilliant and a feather in the cap to Punta Gorda,” he said. “We’ll start fundraisers right now.”

“This is my home. We work. We vote. We get our mail here ... we serve on jury duty.  We’re a friendly and wonderful community.”

Bonnie Mackey
Punta Gorda resident

 

Sail4beer

Super Anarchist
9,518
3,092
Toms River,NJ
Renewing the 10 year lease for the marina and finding that it does, in fact, stipulate a 6 month lease agreement, not an open ended lease agreement. Many marinas and mobile home parks require that boats or trailers are moved on leased land every 6 months to avoid squatting. It’s been that way for many decades now.

 

Steam Flyer

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"  ... City Council meeting, Punta Gorda’s Community Redevelopment Agency approved a new contract agreement for liveaboards looking to rent Laishley Marina docking

The decision, however, will oust most of those who currently live there because they have done so for more than six months. ..."

So, the real crux of the matter is the lease agreement not being renewed. If you just signed yesterday, you get 6 months. If you signed up 5 months and 3+ weeks ago, you got no time at all. If there was no notice that leases were not going to be renewed, they should give all slip holders an option of 6 months.

- DSK

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
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It seems to be the same everywhere - liveaboards are undesirables to bureaucrats - too much freedom and unconventionality for their petty little minds.

Living aboard here is next to impossible - there is one co-op marina in False Creek that was built for the purpose in the 70's but that's about it. Expensive as hell and long waiting list.

Otherwise? Anchor out.

It's particularly stupid of marinas to not allow at least a few - virtually eliminates theft, problems like pumps running frequently are noticed sooner and so forth.

 

JohnMB

Super Anarchist
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Evanston
Wonder what the trigger was?  
It's in the article,

-the city leases land from the state (submerged land.... bit bullshitty but they seem to think its legal)

-The city lease came up for renewal

- The state audited the lease and pointed out to the city that according to the lease people are only allowed to live on the leased land 6 our of any 12 months.

- The city doesn't want to loose its lease so it has to agree to enforce the original terms.

It sucks, its possible that there's a legal loophole the liveaboards may be able to figure out. From what it says the rule is that people can only live there 6 out of 12 months.... if the city wants to kick them off, they probably have to prove that they have been living aboard throughout the prior 6 months (days spent away may count toward extending), maybe they can get creative with addresses? Get together and rent/buy a site where they can all 'live' for the 6 months of the year they are 'not living on their mooring'...) What are the legal consequences of changing slips is that enough to restart the clock or not, maybe a swap between the two different sites, (need to figure out a swap buddy?). They need to read through the terms in detail (or if possible get a lawyer to)

 

nolatom

Super Anarchist
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New Orleans
Will this become a generational thing?  NPR this morning had a blurb about "Seniors" becoming unable to keep up on a shoreside mortgage or taxes, and retreating to their mobile campers.  

 

12 metre

Super Anarchist
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English Bay
It seems to be the same everywhere - liveaboards are undesirables to bureaucrats - too much freedom and unconventionality for their petty little minds.

Living aboard here is next to impossible - there is one co-op marina in False Creek that was built for the purpose in the 70's but that's about it. Expensive as hell and long waiting list.

Otherwise? Anchor out.

It's particularly stupid of marinas to not allow at least a few - virtually eliminates theft, problems like pumps running frequently are noticed sooner and so forth.
Agree about the bureaucrats, but disagree with much of the rest.

In False Creek, there is Spruce Harbour Marina which I believe is the co-op you are referring to and it is indeed expensive to obtain a share and long waiting lists.

But there is also Heather Civic, which has a portion set aside for liveaboards - I think it's around 30 slips or so.  Long wait lists, but no shares to purchase and liveaboards are only charged a monthly moorage premium of less than $200.  I note that this premium has increased a fair amount the past few years.

While most marinas officially do not allow liveaboards they often turn a blind eye to "sneak aboards".  Provided they are good tenants - for the reasons you list above - plus a few more.   I had a few "sneak aboard" neighbours on the same fingers as mine at both Burrard and Heather Civic marinas.  However, if the "sneak aboard'" is an asshole - other tenants will complain and the marina will enforce the regulations.

At our marina, while the city doesn't officially permit liveaboards I would say most of our moorage clients are liveaboards.  I mean who would slip a sailboat 14 miles up a river if they intended to actually use the boat.

Lastly, there are quite a few liveaboard facilities on the island, particularly in the Victoria area - although they are getting to be quite expensive.  They were dirt cheap a few years ago.

 

Israel Hands

Super Anarchist
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coastal NC
It's in the article,

-the city leases land from the state (submerged land.... bit bullshitty but they seem to think its legal)

-The city lease came up for renewal

- The state audited the lease and pointed out to the city that according to the lease people are only allowed to live on the leased land 6 our of any 12 months.

- The city doesn't want to loose its lease so it has to agree to enforce the original terms.

It sucks, its possible that there's a legal loophole the liveaboards may be able to figure out. From what it says the rule is that people can only live there 6 out of 12 months.... if the city wants to kick them off, they probably have to prove that they have been living aboard throughout the prior 6 months (days spent away may count toward extending), maybe they can get creative with addresses? Get together and rent/buy a site where they can all 'live' for the 6 months of the year they are 'not living on their mooring'...) What are the legal consequences of changing slips is that enough to restart the clock or not, maybe a swap between the two different sites, (need to figure out a swap buddy?). They need to read through the terms in detail (or if possible get a lawyer to)
Yeah, but oftentimes the story is really a human-nature one. Sure, it could be that a state official honed in on that particular rule. But really, why would the state care? Sounds like somebody local might care a lot more. The article says

“The submerged land lease of course was just renewed for another 10 years and that brought to light a lot of issues when the state did audits and various things,” Murray told The Daily Sun. “Now, what we are required to do is make sure we enforce what’s always been in there (like the six-month limitation).”
"when the state did audits and various things" sounds like a vague, mush-mouth way of suggesting something that wasn't quite true. Age and battle scars make me tend to distrust a local government or school board member's word if they don't directly and specifically cite what causes a change.

Maybe a number of the liveaboards have been maintaining a shabby existence there, so people want them gone. Or maybe somebody got pissed off at one of them and brought the whole thing to the city's attention. Just betting there is more to the story, that's all.

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
65,127
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Great Wet North
Agree about the bureaucrats, but disagree with much of the rest.

In False Creek, there is Spruce Harbour Marina which I believe is the co-op you are referring to and it is indeed expensive to obtain a share and long waiting lists.

But there is also Heather Civic, which has a portion set aside for liveaboards - I think it's around 30 slips or so.  Long wait lists, but no shares to purchase and liveaboards are only charged a monthly moorage premium of less than $200.  I note that this premium has increased a fair amount the past few years.

While most marinas officially do not allow liveaboards they often turn a blind eye to "sneak aboards".  Provided they are good tenants - for the reasons you list above - plus a few more.   I had a few "sneak aboard" neighbours on the same fingers as mine at both Burrard and Heather Civic marinas.  However, if the "sneak aboard'" is an asshole - other tenants will complain and the marina will enforce the regulations.

At our marina, while the city doesn't officially permit liveaboards I would say most of our moorage clients are liveaboards.  I mean who would slip a sailboat 14 miles up a river if they intended to actually use the boat.

Lastly, there are quite a few liveaboard facilities on the island, particularly in the Victoria area - although they are getting to be quite expensive.  They were dirt cheap a few years ago.
I didn't know Heather allowed liveaboards. Has that always been the case?

I don't include sneakaboards because it is tenuous at best - a friend did it at T-Bird for a while but she took breaks at her daughters house so the marina wasn't exposed to the city.

I also didn't include Shelter because of the commute you mention. Those boats are virtually unusable being so far up the river. Out to the strait and back is most of a day by itself in a sailboat.

If it isn't a legal situation you can get the boot tomorrow so...

 

12 metre

Super Anarchist
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I didn't know Heather allowed liveaboards. Has that always been the case?

I don't include sneakaboards because it is tenuous at best - a friend did it at T-Bird for a while but she took breaks at her daughters house so the marina wasn't exposed to the city.

I also didn't include Shelter because of the commute you mention. Those boats are virtually unusable being so far up the river. Out to the strait and back is most of a day by itself in a sailboat.

If it isn't a legal situation you can get the boot tomorrow so...
To the best of my knowledge liveaboards have always been allowed at Heather.  I don't know when it was built as I wasn't round here at the time, but my guess would be late 70's? Likely when the whole South False Creek area was developed. 

I was told by some others at the marina that it was a group of Liveaboarders who lobbied to either have the city construct the marina or (more likely) allocate a portion of the marina to the liveaboard community.  But I was told that some 10 years ago when I had a boat there, so I can't recall the exact details.

 

Jules

Super Anarchist
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Punta Gorda
So, the real crux of the matter is the lease agreement not being renewed. If you just signed yesterday, you get 6 months. If you signed up 5 months and 3+ weeks ago, you got no time at all. If there was no notice that leases were not going to be renewed, they should give all slip holders an option of 6 months.
No.  The City hasn't enforced the 6 month rule for some time.  During their renewal with the state, someone caught that so now they are enforcing it.  If you've been there for 6 months or more, you have to move.  Anything less, and you can stay until you reach 6 months.

There are boats there year-round.  So this would be workable for a snowbird.  The boat can stay, but not the person.

 

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Jules

Super Anarchist
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Punta Gorda
Yeah, but oftentimes the story is really a human-nature one. Sure, it could be that a state official honed in on that particular rule. But really, why would the state care? Sounds like somebody local might care a lot more. The article says

"when the state did audits and various things" sounds like a vague, mush-mouth way of suggesting something that wasn't quite true. Age and battle scars make me tend to distrust a local government or school board member's word if they don't directly and specifically cite what causes a change.

Maybe a number of the liveaboards have been maintaining a shabby existence there, so people want them gone. Or maybe somebody got pissed off at one of them and brought the whole thing to the city's attention. Just betting there is more to the story, that's all.
We have a new City Manager (weak mayor system) and a newish city council that has been on the warpath regarding the homeless using public bathrooms and sleeping in the park.  The mayor was quoted as saying their use of public bathrooms to wash themselves is "icky."    

 

slug zitski

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I was recently in a small city  that got permission to use public money to construct and operate a new publicly owned port 

The public funds were supplied and the port must devote

25 percent of space to youth , small craft , education 

50 percent local resident season boat dockage 

25 percent transient boat dockage to promote local tourism

no out of water boat  storage

parking for 50 cars

One small craft launching ramp 

In no documents did I see reference to live aboard facilities ,  paid for with local tax money 

 
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Surfer7

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I wonder how often the Punta Gorda year round live-aboards go sailing? Must be quite a lot. I know I would if I were always that close to the water in a nice boat ready to go at a moment's notice. Ah the life...

OTOH I could surely handle living 6 months of the year tied to a buoy and use the dinghy when needed. Nice and quiet on the buoy. Solar panel and/or wind gen for power.

There's an interesting thread about live-aboards here:  https://www.sailnet.com/threads/is-homelessness-rendering-cruising-dead.338576/

 

Ease the sheet.

ease the sheet
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So if I have a long term lease on a slip and my buddy has a long term lease on the next slip, what happens if we swap slips every 6 months?

 

Foredeck Shuffle

Super Anarchist
Will this become a generational thing?  NPR this morning had a blurb about "Seniors" becoming unable to keep up on a shoreside mortgage or taxes, and retreating to their mobile campers. 
Seniors?  Try millions born after Gen X who's real earnings have been stagnate for decades and minimum wage being kept low as suppressed pay for all employees above that level.  In 1973 you could earn $4.03/hr in a union job which equates to $23/hr in real wages today.  Unions are gone, so the minimum is $7.25/hr and all jobs above minimum are based upon that floor wage.  This means that a wage that at one time barely required a high school diploma could support a family with a single income, today with two incomes millions are struggling to make ends meet and often even with the assistance of federal and state assistance with food, school lunches, etc, still cannot make it.

Why is this relevant?  Because this is the floor of employment in the United States, the very bottom.  From that floor all other wages are scaled.

Making is personal, I came from a union family and though we were poor compared to many around us, my parents did have a house, cars, a boat, vacations, and enough money to helped send me to community college, I took care of the rest from there, but it was possible.  Today that's not remotely possible.  And with Republicans discussing raising retirement to 69 or maybe sun-setting Social Security entirely?  Of refusing to raise minimum wages even with inflation sending millions into poverty and homelessness.  Of taking away school lunches and other programs that support children?  It is only going to get a lot worse.  So even though none of this impact me or most of us here, it will come to haunt us.

This marina problem is a small issue attached to a much larger one.  The US economy no longer works for the majority of Americans.  I'm good, I suspect many on this site are good.  We can afford multiple boats, trips to regattas, clubs, etc, have our retirement plans set, we are fine.  But most Americans are not.  Today they are organizing unions but faster than they can do that Republicans are dismantling laws that protect blue collar workers.  Some day they will get tired of not eating, of not having a place to sleep, of having no hope or opportunity, and then the real push back will come.

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