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Port submits liveaboard proposal

One main concern with increasing liveaboards in Poulsbo is sewage dumping and the health of Liberty Bay. The port argues that it already exceeds state pumpout standards and has earned a clean marina certification.  - Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald
One main concern with increasing liveaboards in Poulsbo is sewage dumping and the health of Liberty Bay. The port argues that it already exceeds state pumpout standards and has earned a clean marina certification.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo has presented the city with a proposal it hopes will encourage city officials to allow for more liveaboards in the downtown marina.

“The Port of Poulsbo hereby requests that it be permitted to maximize the allowable liveaboard capacity at the Poulsbo Marina, which at this time would equate to 13 additional liveaboard tenants,” the proposal states.

Poulsbo’s City Council will discuss the proposal at its

Sept. 10 meeting, according to Mayor Becky Erickson.

The port has long desired to increase its liveaboard capacity. The port currently has 12 tenants registered as liveaboards and would like to add 13 more. The additional liveaboards would add up to approximately $3,000 more per year in liveaboard moorage fees for the port.

The port’s marina has 253 permanent slips and is allowed by state regulation to have up to 10 percent of those slips serving liveaboards.

But the port is prevented from reaching that 10 percent, or 25, liveaboards by a 1983 agreement with the city. The agreement prevents the port from adding liveaboards because of downtown parking restrictions. The city would prefer that the port have one parking stall for every two boat slips.

At the request of the city, the port surveyed other marinas throughout the region to compare available parking numbers. The port researched the Port of Friday Harbor, the Bremerton Marina, the Port Orchard Marina, the Port of Port Townsend, and Liberty Bay Marina.

With 39 liveaboards, Friday Harbor did not meet the one-stall-per-two-slips standard. Neither did Bremerton with 20 liveaboards, or Port Orchard with 20. Port Townsend has 25 liveaboards and is not at capacity and does not meet the Poulsbo parking standard either.

Locally, Liberty Bay Marina has 12 liveaboards, which is lower than the state-regulated 10 percent. The marina limits itself because of “parking deficiencies,” according to the proposal.

“The marinas that were surveyed have similar parking challenges as the Poulsbo Marina. But, in no case does the municipality regulate their liveaboard capacity,” the proposal states.

When port commissioners broached the topic at a City Council meeting in March, council members then expressed two main concerns about the increase in liveaboards: limited and tight parking in downtown, and threats to the health of Liberty Bay — some council members were concerned with liveaboards dumping into the water.

The port has answers for those concerns.

“The plan is to require additional liveaboard tenants to park their vehicle (sic) at the port owned lot as 19133 Jensen Way,” the proposal states.

The tenants will have parking passes of a different color than other tenants.

The Jensen Way lot consists of 56 parking stalls, including four electric car charging stations and 12 stalls for RVs and vehicles with trailers.

The port’s proposal also counters the concern for the environment. On Feb. 20, commissioners passed regulations governing liveaboards, the proposal states, which “give the port greater control and oversight over the liveaboard population than it has ever had before.”

“The port recognizes that unscrupulous boaters are a potential source of pollution,” the proposal states. “It’s on this issue as well that the port feels it has gone above and beyond the call of duty.”

The port is required by state regulation to have one pumpout and one dump station. The port has two stationary pumpouts and two portable pumpout carts. The proposal quotes the Kitsap County Health District as stating the port has enough facilities to accommodate more than 25 liveaboards.

The proposal argues further.

“Just recently, the Poulsbo Marina received a Clean Marina Washington certification, as well as an EnviroStars certification,” the proposal states. “This means that the State of Washington and Kitsap County recognize that the facility is being manages in such a way as to greatly reduce or eliminate pollutants from entering the water.”

The proposal notes that marinas can act as water traps. That factor combined with the contribution of waste from warm-blooded animals into the bay can result in higher amounts of fecal coliform in the bay.

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