After a long, and sometimes bitter battle with Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development and Seattle City Council, Seattle’s iconic and charming houseboat community is now protected from annihilation. Senate Bill 6450 requires that On Water Floating Residences be reasonably accommodated and prevents regulations from being created that would prevent their repair, maintenance and remodeling. Governor Inslee is expected to sign this bill into law presently.
Prior to the passing of this bill, there are 3 ways that people can live on the water;
Floating Homes such as the famous Sleepless in Seattle floating home, are more or less permanently attached to utilities (water/sewer/electricity) and are not considered vessels.
House barges are uniquely Seattle as defined in the Seattle Shoreline Master Plan. These are vessels that lack steering and propulsion, have quick disconnect electricity and water, and contain their black water in holding tanks and are pumped out via mobile pump-out services.
Vessels including, but not limited to Yachts, Trawlers, Tug boats, Sailboats and Houseboats having steering and propulsion
After SB 6450 becomes law, these 3 classifications change to be;
Floating Homes (as described above)
On Water Floating Residences. Any floating structure other than a floating home that Is designed or used primarily as a residence on the water and has detachable utilities; and was used as a place of residence prior to July 1, 2014.
Applies to Existing On Water Residences only
NOTE that this law applies only to On Water Floating Residence that were used as a place of residence PRIOR to July 1, 2014. After that date, NEW On Water Floating Residences are not protected from legislation. The new Shoreline Master Plan, currently under review by Department of Ecology, contains wording prohibiting NEW vessels that have rectangular superstructures (think houseboats) from being used as live-aboards after the implementation of the new Shoreline Master Plan. Other vessels, such as trawlers, yachts, tugboats, and sailboats may continue to be used as live-aboard vessels. Effectively, this means NO NEW HOUSEBOATS after 7/1/2014.
Seattle’s houseboat community has been in existence for over 100 years. Originally designed as mobile residences for the logging and fishing industries, houseboats have diverged into floating homes (often incorrectly referred to as houseboats) and a wide of other vessels that are primarily designed as a place of residence.
Houseboats have been under political attack on numerous occasions, and the latest attack came about during the development of the latest Shoreline Master Plan, created by Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development. As a result of the latest assault, Lake Union Liveaboard Association was founded in 2009 to protect the houseboat and live aboard community.
Through extraordinary efforts by the Lake Union Liveaboard Association over the last 4 years, many misconceptions have been eliminated and support for the existing houseboat community has grown. We are pleased to announce that existing houseboat owners no longer need to live in fear of losing their homes and that Seattle will continue to benefit from this wonderful, iconic community for many years to come.
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