November 1st is a proud day for Houseboat Owners as Mayor McGinn signs the proclamation making November 1st, Seattle Houseboat Day. A small, but iconic on-water Seattle neighborhood has been fighting for their existence for the last 3 years, and only recently has seen a change in policy direction that will result in permitting the continued existence of Houseboats in Seattle waters. While those Houseboats currently being used as live-aboard vessels will be allowed to remain, new Houseboats will NOT be allowed after the implementation of the new Seattle Shoreline Master Plan.
Houseboat vessels, existing in Seattle waters may be used as live-aboard vessels if they meet the criteria of being designed and used for navigation and have a means of self propulsion and steering. It is the interpretation of these phrases that has been at debate. Representatives of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) have proposed a cacophony of interpretations over the last 3 years, including Sail Area to Length Ratio, Sail Area to Hull Plan Ratio, Hull Length to Beam Ratio, specific construction materials, specific insurance requirements, freeboard requirements, minimum horsepower, symmetrical mooring cleats, symmetrical embarkation points, requiring inboard/outboard engines if > 30 ft., fore and aft line handling stations, watertight doors & windows, performance tests, forbidden design elements (Dormers, pitched roofs, etc.),
Fortunately, reason is beginning to prevail with DPD now leaning towards a version of a Director’s Rule that is more in line with the Lake Union Liveaboard Association’s proposal. Mayor McGinn’s has committed to work with the houseboat community to reach an equitable solution. Houseboat owners are hopeful that the upcoming Director’s Rule will be sensible and will allow the continued existence of houseboats that have been moored peacefully in Seattle waters for decades. We are expecting to have a final version of the Director’s Rule next week, and we will post the results here. The Lake Union Liveaboard Association board of directors has been working diligently to reach a solution that will allow preservation of the entire houseboat fleet in Seattle waters, which numbers something less than 115 houseboats.
CONGRATULATIONS to all Seattle houseboat owners and
HAPPY HOUSEBOAT DAY!