City should revise port liveaboard agreement | In Our Opinion

The number of liveaboards allowed at the Port of Poulsbo is limited by a 31-year-old agreement with the City of Poulsbo that is designed to protect parking availability near the waterfront.

The agreement with the city is out of date and should be revised.

As Poulsbo Port Commissioner Steve Swann writes in his monthly Scuttlebutt column, state law limits the number of liveaboards to 10 percent of the total number of slips in a marina. The Port of Poulsbo has 254 permanent moorage slips and 130 guest moorage slips, a total of 384. According to state law, the port should therefore be allowed 25 liveaboard slips, if just counting permanent moorage, or 38 if including guest moorage.

But in the agreement with the city, the port agreed to a reduced number of liveaboard slips of 12. The port agreed to the limit back in 1983, to satisfy concerns the city had about preserving parking availability.

Times have changed. The Port of Poulsbo now owns a 56-space parking lot on Jensen Way, more than enough to accommodate its state-allowed liveaboard allocation. The port currently charges for parking there — a practice established by the previous administration — but that’s been a failure and could change. The port may make parking spaces on the lot freely available — for residents, downtown merchants, and liveaboards.

Based on its ability to ease the need for parking downtown, and its ability to accommodate the parking needs of marina tenants, the port wants to expand its number of liveaboard slips to its state-allowed allocation of 36. The city should not stand in the way of that expansion.

One, it’s fair. The city has had concerns about liveaboards taking up valuable parking spaces needed to accommodate waterfront businesses, employees and patrons. The port now owns a parking lot with sufficient space to accommodate all of its desired liveaboards.

Two, liveaboards are good for marinas. They are a 24/7 presence and are often the first to notice anything that could threaten the environment or public safety. The marina is their front yard.

Three, liveaboards shop close to home. And for a liveaboard in the Port of Poulsbo Marina, close to home is downtown Poulsbo. As Swann writes, “Marina liveaboards are good customers for Poulsbo merchants, and sales tax revenues are vital to the city.”

The city-port agreement from 1983 is antiquated and should be revised.


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