The Seattle Department of Planning & Development has issued a preliminary draft, on September 18th, 2013, of a Director’s Rule regarding ‘dwelling units floating on the water.’ This will apply to house boats (not house barges or floating homes,) and as a Director’s Rule, it is not subject to public process.
In response, Doug Dixon, a licensed Naval Architect and General Manager of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard & Electric, wrote an e-mail to the Seattle City Council and the King County Council. He has given permission for it to be reposted here.
From: Doug Dixon
Subject: DPD’s Draft Director’s Rule X-2013 Floating Dwelling Rules
“MARCO Shipyard, Duwamish Shipyard, Foss Shipyard, Scott Galvanizing..hey, let’s get rid of all the house boat builders as well!
How many more businesses have to leave before the City of Seattle DPD Department of Planning and Development and SDOT Department of Transportation get the point that their zoning, parking and bicycle policies are destructive?
How much of the tax base needs to be eroded before the City of Seattle has to cut essential services?
How many more leaves can be peeled from the maritime industrial cluster before the industry collapses and moves to Arlington, Everett, Kent, Bellingham, Tacoma and Anacortes?
We are incensed at the City of Seattle’s continued use of Director’s Rules enacting regulations without due process, that so devastates the maritime industrial sector.
Speaking as a Seattle shipyard, through irresponsible rezoning and gentrification, you have robbed us of our dry lands and now want to regulate the submerged lands we work over as well.
Do you not realize that your continued degradation of our maritime industry, the economic engine which provides you with 33% of your tax base, will have significant negative economic impacts on our economy, tying your hands from governing more important things, and degrading your way of life as well?
But speaking in favor of the proposed Director’s Rule, as a State Licensed Naval Architect, Registered as a Professional Engineer in the State of Washington as required by the proposed Director’s Rule, on behalf of myself and my colleagues we want to thank you for enabling us to retire wealthy on the dollars from the pockets of City of Seattle taxpayers. ANNUALLY we will be required to certify vessels as capable of navigation and qualified under your rules. We will charge hefty annual fees and find ways to make everyone compliant who can afford to pay the fees. This will render the proposed Director’s Rule ineffective, all while we follow the cannons of ship design and ethics review dictated under our Washington State Professional Engineer’s licenses. The Seattle Department of Planning and Development, as well as the United States Coast Guard, have practically no definition of an unlicensed vessel’s capability for navigation.
Both the proposed Shorelines Management Plan (SMP) and the Director’s Rule have no definition of excluded historic vessels, for which we have more than enough to fill all the City’s available moorage slips.
The proposed Director’s Rule would prohibit powered barges to be moored in our yards for mooring, repair or work in the yard if anyone is living on them, unless a Naval Architect has certified them within the last 12 months to your rules. If the barge has a bunk and a galley it would be classed as a residence, regardless if someone is staying on board overnight. What is the penalty? Are you going to arrest the vessel you don’t call a vessel but really is a vessel under maritime law?
We believe that it is impossible to write a City regulation that accomplishes the State Department of Ecology’s objective that does not interfere with normal maritime business. It appears that the City in promoting this rule is going to take away the right of citizens to live in their homes. This violates the avowed statement of intent of the Shoreline Management Program that implies that anyone in violation of revised rules will not be thrown out of their home and will be grandfathered. At worst the violating structure would have to be removed when the current owner dies or moves out.
Speaking against the proposed Director’s Rule, it appears to prevent any non-powered vessel with living facilities being moored or repaired in our shipyard. We cannot even make a floating caretakers facility under your proposed rules. Examples of unpowered barges that would be illegal under the proposed rule include any work barge containing living or sleeping facilities, such as accommodation and crane barges. We will be unable to bid government jobs which require an accommodation barge for the crew of the vessel. Those absurdities aside, the stripping of the possibility of bringing in a crane barge into do maintenance work at our facilities, or mooring working barge style structures with sleeping facilities, is devastating.”
Doug Dixon, P.E., General Manager
Pacific Fishermen Shipyard and Electric
To find out more about this issue, contact Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin, or read columns from Fremocentrist.com on July 24th, August 21st and August 23rd, 2013.