Ecology Director Maia Bellon signed the final approval for the City of Seattle’s Shoreline Master Program on Monday June 1, 2015. The updated SMP will go into effect on June 15, 2015!
A process that began nearly 8 years ago is finally coming to completion. In 2007, the Department of Planning and Development began a process to update the Seattle Shoreline Master Program. This process would see Seattle Houseboats placed in a very precarious position.
The Department of Planning and Development was charged with updating the Seattle Shoreline Master Plan, which was previously updated in 2005. Seattle’s SMP controls development and use of the shorelines in Seattle waters including floating homes and other floating residences.
Lake Union Liveaboard Association (LULA) was formed in 2009 as a result of changes proposed for the new SMP, which could have potentially eliminated Houseboats in Seattle. For the following 5 years, LULA fought hard to change the SMP to deal fairly with Houseboats. In January, the Seattle City Council passed the SMP, which placed restrictions on Vessels being used as dwelling units, and interpreted this to mean Houseboats as well. This meant Sea Trials, demonstrating navigation, certification by Naval Architects, and a host of other restrictions.
As the City was passing the SMP and submitting to Ecology for review, LULA went to state regulators and got a bill passed that created a new term “Floating On-Water Residences” and protected those Floating On-Water Residences that had been in existence prior to 7/1/2014 from adverse regulations.
As a result of the new law, the City of Seattle was forced to revise the SMP to accommodate Floating On-Water Residences and to treat them as conforming uses in the city. This required significant changes to the SMP. The city was required to remove many requirements, including Sea Trials, Freeboard, Naval Architect certifications, Navigational equipment, Boarding locations, cleat locations, Hull shape, Propulsion systems, Steering systems, and more.
In addition, the City was required to allow Floating On-Water Residences to be maintained, repaired, remodeled, and replaced in accordance with the new law.
What does this mean for Houseboats in Seattle?
Faith Lumsden, Compliance Director at DPD has indicated that the verification process will be available online as of 6/15/2015 and that the forms will be available online. She also indicates that DPD will try to create some press as an outreach program, to help spread the word.
GET A HEAD START! Download the official forms here!
Client Assistance Memo 229 – describing the rules for Floating On-Water Residences, House-barges, and Vessels with Dwelling Units.
FORM LETTER – Floating On-Water Residences
This letter describes the requirement for Floating On-Water Residences to become verified, the process for becoming verified, and how the verification numbers are to be displayed.
Floating On-Water Verification Form
This is the form to be completed to obtain verification of a Floating On-Water Residence. It also indicates what supplemental information must be included with the application and how to pay the required application fee.
FORM LETTER – Vessel with Dwelling Unit
This letter describes the requirement for a Vessel with Dwelling Unit to become verified, the process for becoming verified, and how the verification Plate is to be displayed.
Vessel with Dwelling Unit Verification Form
This is the form to be completed to obtain verification of a Vessel with Dwelling Unit. It also indicates what supplemental information must be included with the application and how to pay the required application fee.
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