Many people that blog on the subject of houseboats / barges, but know very little about them and we specialize in houseboats, support the liveaboard community and liveaboard houseboat vessel.
There are inaccuracies in the article published in the Seattle Times by Erik Lacitis on June 28, 2011
and opinions that border on fiction. On the other hand, my husband and president of the Lake Union Liveaboard Association (LULA), has been deeply involved with the Department of Planning and Development and has had a number of meetings with Margaret Glowacki, senior planner for DPD and the person responsible for crafting the Shoreline Management Plan.
Unfortunatly the article caused Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (our only lender) to suspend lending for houseboats, barges, and slips until it is resolved. Kevin Bagley and LULA board members have been deeply involved in the negotiations with the DPD, specifically, Margaret Glowacki. It is important to know that these are not regulations yet; they are proposed revisions to the Shoreline Management Plan and they are currently in the comment phase. With the amount of comments received, it became obvious to Margaret that the regulations could not proceed as proposed. Currently the proposed changes are being re-written, so the existing proposed changes will be modified and a second round of comments will then begin.
In our negotiations, Maggie Glowacki of the DPD has indicated that no one will be affected on the lake at the time of implementation. All existing houseboats will be grandfathered in. The new rules will only apply to new houseboats. Also, the 25% per marina limitation is likely going to either be eliminated, or modified to be a cap based on the entire Shoreline Management area. In either case, someone abandoning a liveaboard slip would NOT cause that slip to be converted to a Non-Liveaboard slip.
It is too early to say what the final implementation will look like, but it will probably be either a percentage of all slips in the district as the CAP, or based on a census of existing liveaboards and some reasonable amount of growth. They have already indicated that whatever the outcome, no one will loose their current slip and that liveaboard slips will be transferable.
I wish SMCU would have asked for accurate information regarding this situation so that they can take it to the board of directors. I believe the decision to suspend lending for houseboats was made based on a news story that hyped the situation out of proportion. In all honesty, I expect the DPD to seriously consider adopting the proposals that Lake Union Liveaboard Association is proposing, in which case, there would be virtually no impact on existing houseboats, and only a minor impact on new houseboats – They probably would require a grey water filtration system or grey water holding tanks on new houseboats (something that could easily be done).
I hope this helps answer some of the questions you have. Stop in our office on the North end of Lake Union 2401 N. Northlake Way at the boat launch, also where we too Liveaboard on the KevLin, the only dual stern paddle wheeler on Lake Union and say hello.
Linda M. Bagley
Special Agents Realty