Update on DPD Final Recommendations

Grandfathering Allowed

Please accept my apology over the previous email to the membership.  In that email I indicated that existing houseboats would not be grandfathered in under the new proposals. I was mistaken. The regulations are long and confusing and the section 23.60.214 Standards for live-aboard uses on vessels seems to indicate no grandfathering, however, there are 2 sections (23.60.122 Nonconforming uses and 23.60.124 Nonconforming structures) that override the “Standards for live-aboard uses on vessels.”

To be certain of this, I have communicated with Magaret Glowacki at DPD;

  • Kevin:          These 2 sections (23.60.122 & 23.60.214) seem to be in conflict with each other since one talks about uses on recreational vessels and seems generic across all recreational vessels. Does this mean that live-aboard vessels that were legal prior to date of implementation do not have to comply with this section???”
  • Margaret:   The existing regulations apply to the existing uses, structures and vessels, which means that if you are living on the water you need to be a vessel as defined under the current regulations (“Vessel” means ships, boats, barges, or any other floating craft which are designed and used for navigation and do not interfere with the normal public use of the water, including historic ships which do not have means of self-propulsion and steering equipment) or a house barge or a floating home, also defined under the current regulations. This will not change for the existing uses, structures and vessels.

  • Kevin:          Is there some stamp, certification, or other evidence that will provide proof of compliance at the time of implementation of these regulations?
  • Margaret:   DPD proposed a registration system for live-aboards; however, we were met with great opposition to this proposal. You can apply for an interpretation of the existing regulations to have the determination made for a specific floating structure and there is a fee for this interpretation.

  • Kevin:          I was under the impression that there would be no comments or modifications after the Final Recommendations, however, from email exchanges, it looks like there may be a possibility for changes to these Recommendations. Is that true?
  • Margaret:   The official comment and appeal period for SEPA run through July 20th . Comments submitted after that will be considered as we can.


All in all, I believe the Lake Union Liveaboard Association, through its active campaign of letter writing, phone calls, and meetings with DPD has been extremely effective in combating the inappropriate proposals contained in Draft #1 and Draft #2. I am extremely appreciative of everyone’s efforts and thank you all for your hard work. There are some remaining issues, however, I believe we were successful in our efforts and this Final Recommendation is a vast improvement over Drafts 1 and 2.

Remaining issues:

  1. Send comments in immediately. I believe we had very short notice regarding the comment period.  The comment period ends tomorrow, so immediate action is required if you want to be heard.
  2. The new regulations (for new liveaboard vessels) call for symmetrical embarkations (recreational vessels do NOT require this). This requirement is not pertinent to the stated purpose of the Shoreline Management Act (environmental improvement).   Perhaps a revision that requires embarkation points on the port and starboard sides would be a reasonable compromise (although Recreational vessels do not require this and it does nothing for environmental issues).
  3. The new regulations (for new liveaboard vessels) call for fore and aft decks (recreational vessels do NOT require this). This may make some very traditional, sea-worthy vessels non-compliant for liveaboard purposes. Again, this is irrelevant to the stated purpose of the Shoreline Management Act.
  4. The new regulations (for new liveaboard vessels) call for the requirement of having the vessel being delivered from the place of purchase to its final destination unassisted. This section needs removed as it is impractical. Many vessels require assistance to be delivered – i.e. deck hands, help at the dock in tight marinas, etc. This section is unreasonable and unnecessary. Many insurance companies will not insure the vessel until it is in its final destination, necessitating towing to that point.
  5. The new regulations (for new liveaboard vessels) call for the requirement of meeting a Sail Area to Length Ratio (SALR). This section needs removed as it is a non-standard measurement for stability, is not used by any Naval Architects, and has no relevance to the stated purpose of the Shoreline Management Act (environmental improvement).  Per this ratio, it would be okay for a 100 ft long vessel that is 9 ft high and 2 feet wide to be used as a liveaboard, while a vessel that is 40 feet long, 20 ft high and 20 ft wide would not be permitted.  Most Sailboats would not pass this regulation and could not be used as liveaboards.
  6. The constraint for vessels with SALR between 10 and 17 is based off of the Sea-Faring Beaufort Scale, which is a measurement used in open oceans. The wind speeds may be reasonable, however, the wave height (3.5 ft) is unrealistic for liveaboards in the shoreline management area, as wave heights of 3.5ft are not possible in the inland waters with corresponding wind speeds.

NOTE:  There is current litigation that is being based on the wording in Cam-229 indicating that if you live aboard your vessel, that vessel is defined as “Vessel” means ships, boats, barges, or any other floating craft which are designed and used for navigation…” and the owner of the vessels are being challenged to prove their vessel is/has been “used for navigation.”  We are strongly recommending that you have pictures / videos, or other documentation of your vessel being used for navigation. To be “Grandfathered” in, you must meet this definition.

Please be sure to forward this email to all of your fellow Live-Aboards.  We will be scheduling a General Membership meeting soon.

Thank you for your support.