Monday, November 22, 2010

Open Water Squatting

Bainbridge Island has a unique floating community that most don’t know about; at least they didn’t until a number of articles featuring controversy surrounding the community were published. The community, floating in Eagle Harbor, is made up of a collection of boaters, living on their anchored homes. Members of the community, called “liveaboards” live in the Harbor essentially for free and commute by row boat to and from the main island. This particular liveaboard community is the last surviving in the state, but could be just a memory, come December 15th. The Department of Natural Resources gave the houseboat tenants eviction notices last week. The liveaboards are considered “squatters”, as they are living in the harbor for free, unlike similar counterparts living around Puget Sound who pay monthly lease fees. The argument remains that if people want to use public land for private use, they should be subject to the same rules and regulations as other communities. One of the main concerns is the environmental effects the community has.
Arguments against the disbanding of the 17 liveaboards are that they are a unique part of the island’s maritime history and that their carbon footprint is considerably small. Many use solar power and are very careful when disposing of waste, commuting to the city dock to use the pumping station. The city has been in talks of establishing an open-water marina in Eagle Harbor but high costs of maintaining and mooring buoys has remained a very large concern.
Unless things change, liveaboards will be required to move their boats by the December 15th deadline.


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