We’ve heard a lot lately about the battle between Lake Union floating homeowners and the city of Seattle. Despite the iconic nature of the houses, some in town seem intent on getting rid of them. On Friday, Seattle began violating floating homes on Lake Union to remove them.
To understand what’s going on, we must first distinguish a houseboat from a floating house.
A houseboat is considered a water-oriented vehicle. It has an engine. At any point in time, it could steer from its dock and sail into open waters. In any case, it is a boat that someone calls home.
However, a floating home is not a vessel of water. It’s a house, usually a big one, that happens to be built on a floating contraption. It has no engine, no steering, no safety equipment and is no different from a house on land in any way.
Now there are a lot of gray areas in what makes up everyone, but one thing seems clear. Houseboats are perfectly acceptable as long as they comply with new regulations. Floating houses will be illegalit seems according to the same new rules.
What is driving this sudden move by the city? According to Molly Cartwright of Cooper Jacobs Real Estate, it is basically a land grab. Or, in this case, a coastal grab.
In the broadest sense, the dispute is about clearing the shorelines on parts of Lake Union. Under state law, water-dependent (and water-oriented) businesses and industries, coastal restoration, and public access take precedence. With this in mind, some city council members say that shorelines should be preserved for recreational and water-dependent purposes (also known as non houseboats). Still other city committee officials say they want to protect the lifestyle of Seattle houseboats. Yeah, definitely confusing. What’s next? Quite a number of agencies and associations are trying to make a decision about what exactly a houseboat is. They have set a January 14th deadline to make this happen. Of course, regardless of what decisions they make, there will be a noisy contradiction based on the criteria that are no longer qualified or cause conflict. This is a local real estate battle that is heating up right now.
Are houseboats drifting away? [Seattle PI]