Here is a well-written, insightful letter to Florida legislators that should serve as a model for those of you who plan to write in opposition to SB 1548, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=147754. Thank you Captain Healy.
Chairman Hon. Alan Hays
Vice Chairman Hon. Oscar Braynon
Senator Hon. Thad Altman
Senator Hon. Charles Dean
Senator Hon. Tom Lee
Senator Hon. Gwen Margolis
Senator Hon. Wilton Simpson
Dear Chairman Hays and members of the Senate Committee on General Government Operations:
I am writing in reference to SB1548, titled “An Act Related to Vessel Safety.” I am a legal resident of Green Cove Springs, Clay County, and an active boater. I have previously written to Sen. Rob Bradley requesting that he decline to support Senate Bill 1548 in its present form. While I do not object to the core safety-related provisions of SB1548, I do object to the anchoring setback provisions contained in the bill. The setback provisions reduce the availability of safe anchoring locations all across Florida, thereby acting against the goal of promoting safety in navigation on state waters. Furthermore, the setback provisions represent revocation of lawful pubic access rights to public trust lands. These lands are held by the state in trust for use by the public, not for the aesthetic preferences or personal use of adjoining waterfront landowners or for the promotion of waterfront business interests.
Although limitations on anchoring may favor certain business interests, the origin of the setback provisions in the bill appears to be isolated disputes between waterfront landowners and occupants of anchored vessels. Some of these disputes have been highly publicized, but do not justify a sweeping statewide law which would restrict the rights and freedoms of hundreds of thousands of boaters throughout the maritime waters of coastal Florida. These disputes are not based on safety concerns. They can and should be resolved on a case-by-case basis through noise and nuisance proceedings in the judicial branch of municipal, county and state government.
House Bill 7123 deals with derelict vessels without changing current Florida-wide anchoring rights. When we first moved to Florida in 2004, there was a confusing and inconsistent patchwork of local, city and county laws that restricted or disallowed anchoring in Florida’s intracoastal public trust waters. Compliance with that patchwork of local ordinances was impossible. Florida Statute 327.60 ended that inconsistency in anchoring policies and local manipulation of navigation rights and rules. At this time, HB7123 creates an “at risk” category of boats and gives local governments new tools to manage these situations. Because local governments sometimes seek to promulgate anchoring restrictions as a means of managing problems with “at risk” and derelict vessels, I strongly believe that HB7123 is an excellent step to deter vessels from becoming derelict in the first place.
I ask that SB1548 be aligned with HB7123. I also ask that as the opportunity presents itself in the future, that the committee act to maintain the statewide consistency of anchoring rules the legislature previously established in FS 327.60, and act to prohibit local or regional exceptions to this state wide policy.
Thank you for your consideration.
James B. Healy
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary, currently at Daytona Beach, FL
Monk 36 Hull #132