[Hpn] Boat Living a right, WA state lands commissioner contenders say FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 19 Sep 2000 13:31:00 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Sep 14, 2000


     Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE (AP) _ Two contenders for state lands commissioner _ one
Republican, one Democrat _ came together a week before the primary
election to support the same cause: protecting the right to live on
a boat.

Republican Doug Sutherland, the Pierce County executive, and
Democratic state Sen. Georgia Gardner of Blaine called a joint news
conference Wednesday with the Live-aboard Association of Puget
Sound. They said outgoing Lands Commissioner Jennifer Belcher has
assaulted a Northwest tradition by trying to evict people who live
on their boats.

The joint conference also was designed to single out the leading
Democratic candidate, former Gov. Mike Lowry, who they say has
wavered on the issue. A Lowry spokesman said he didn't know what
the two were talking about.

``This is clearly a nonpartisan issue,'' Gardner said by
telephone Wednesday. ``It's something we like to do in the state of
Washington _ we like to live on boats.''

Belcher generated much controversy in March when she said a
16-year-old state law discourages ``non-water-dependent'' uses of
publicly owned water. Belcher said a houseboat is not dependent on
water the way ferry terminals or fishing piers are because people
don't have to live on boats.

The state Department of Natural Resources, which the lands
commissioner oversees, said living on a houseboat is like living
permanently out of a Winnebago at a campsite.

So far, eviction notices have been issued by three Lake Union
marinas under new leases negotiated with the state agency. The
evictions have been delayed while lawsuits play out in King and
Pierce county superior courts.

Gardner and Sutherland said Wednesday it is ridiculous to evict
the residents. The boats can stay at the marinas and it makes no
difference whether people are living on them, as long as they pay
rent and don't pollute, they said.

Live-aboard Association Chairman Don Stonehill, who lives on a
42-foot sailboat, agreed.

``There's not a shred of rationale or law that allows Belcher to
do it,'' Stonehill said. ``We live on the water. We swim in the
water. We're not going to pollute the water.''

Belcher is out of her office until later this month, and a
spokeswoman for the department could not be reached for comment
late Wednesday afternoon.

Gardner and Sutherland did acknowledge there are some areas
where live-aboards are a problem. For example, Sutherland said,
people often cruise into Bainbridge Island's Eagle Harbor and drop
anchor, regardless of whether they have permits or boats with
sewage facilities.

Those live-aboards must be regulated, the two said.

They also said Lowry has waffled on the issue. Stonehill said
that while Lowry has promised to support the tradition of
live-aboards, he has also suggested he supports what Belcher has
done in office.

Belcher has endorsed Lowry.

Lowry's campaign manager, Terry Surguine, was puzzled.

``I don't know where they're coming from,'' Surguine said.
``Mike has basically taken the position that live-aboards are a
Northwest tradition. He wants to be sure that those who live aboard
boats don't pollute and pay a reasonable fee.''

In other developments in the lands commissioner race, Bob
Penhale, an environmentalist with the state Department of Ecology,
withdrew on Tuesday and gave his support to Jim O'Donnell, a
forester from Lacey.

AP-WS-09-14-00 0227EDT
Received  Id AP1002580DF7C2DE on Sep 16 2000 07:06


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