Existing floating homes would be allowed to stay on Lake Union in Seattle and other shorelines, under a bill that passed in the Senate and was heard in a House committee Friday.
The move would be welcome by residents of floating homes, such as John Chaney, of the Lake Union Liveaboard Association, who says that houses like his do not deserve their reputation among regulators.
“We’re no longer the ‘shanty shacks’ that dump sewage and garbage into our state’s waters,” he said.
Floating homes differ from houseboats; houseboats have motors and are designed for navigation and floating homes are house structures built on a barge or a similar floating structure.
Under SB 6540 sponsored by Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), local governments would have to grandfather in floating on-water residences in local shoreline regulations if the homes were established lawfully by July 1, 2014.
However, Susan Neff, who lives in a houseboat on Lake Union, opposed the bill, saying that owners of floating homes are taking up shoreline space that can no longer be used by other boaters.
“I view this as an aquatic land grab,” she said. “The space is limited. We’re not building new marinas.”
She also feels there is not enough regulation on how floating homes are built.
But Barbara Ingram, who said her floating home on Lake Union is her main investment, said that shoreline regulations would force her at age 76 to buy a home or pay rent.
“Frankly, I can’t manage that,” she said.
The bill is one of several this session concerning on-water dwellings.
TVW webcast the hearing.