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Your Right to Anchor in Florida Is Once Again in Jeopardy

Image result for anchoring in florida

As the Florida Legislative Session begins, we are once again expecting a slew of bills to be filed that call for banning overnight anchoring in specific areas in Florida.  This has been an on-going issue for several years, and the Seven Seas Cruising Association, as part of a coalition formed to protect Boaters’ Rights, has been successful in keeping most anchorages open for our members.  Please read on for the history of this issue, the expectations for the upcoming legislative session.

History:

For several years, anchorages have been under attack in Florida, sometimes by waterfront home owners who prefer not to have boats anchored in the waterways outside their homes. More often, however, responsible boaters are caught up in the “derelict vessels” issue, which is a serious problem in Florida.   By working with their state legislative delegations to pass restrictions on anchoring in their waterways, municipalities think they’ll have an easier time ridding their area of abandoned boats and/or those anchored with no intention (nor ability, in many cases) of ever moving.

Image result for anchoring in florida

In 2015 a bill was filed to ban anchoring within 200 feet of developed waterfront property in Florida.  Cruisers were successful in defeating that bill.  Thinking our efforts were over, the boating community did not actively participate in the process in Tallahassee in 2016, and a bill passed that closed four anchorages in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area to overnight anchoring.  

Because of the failure in 2016, our coalition re-engaged in 2017 and was successful in keeping the power to regulate anchoring with the state GOVERNMENT, rather than municipalities, which was important in preventing a patchwork of laws from being passed by various municipalities and counties.  Further, no new anchorages were added to the list of those where overnight anchoring is restricted. In 2018, an amendment was filed to restrict overnight anchoring in two more anchorages, and we were successful in getting the amendment withdrawn from the bill before a vote was taken.

Image result for anchoring in florida

Expectations for the Coming Legislative Session:

We are expecting the legislative delegates from several additional municipalities, to once again try to amend the existing statute to add their anchorages to the list of those that are closed to any overnight anchoring.  We must remain vigilant or we face losing the right to anchor in additional areas, and the Florida gateway route to the Bahamas and Caribbean will see new hurdles for boaters.

The most successful way to have our voices heard and to get results has been representation by a lobbyist who knows the ins-and-outs of the legislative process in Florida.  The lobbyist that has represented cruiser’s interests in the past has been very successful.  But, of course, there is a cost associated with that.  We hope that once again those costs can be shared among our full coalition, which includes Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA), America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA), Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), and the DeFever Cruisers.

What We Need from Cruisers:

At the moment, what we need most is your feedback.  We last went to our membership in 2017 asking for contributions to help keep anchorages open.  Boaters were generous, and about $11,000 remains from our coalition’s last call for funding.  We estimate needing an additional $20,000 for this legislative session.

SSCA does not use our membership fees to support advocacy.  We are active advocates for our members in many ways, but we handle most issues with staff time and expertise, and grass-roots efforts from our members when needed.  Florida is a bell-weather state that has a strong influence on other states' restrictions on boaters.  Advocating in all states would be cost-prohibitive, and even if we used membership dues it would be cost prohibitive to our organization.  Further, we know that there are some of you who may not be interested in certain issues.  Therefore, we’ve taken the approach of asking our members to contribute individually to specific issues when needed and we leave it up to each of you to decide whether to participate.

We cannot engage a lobbyist without a) knowing that our members are concerned about an issue and b) knowing that we have a reasonable expectation of being able to collect the funds to pay for it.

Please take a moment to respond to our single question survey to help us ascertain both whether this is important to you, and how much we might be able to raise to cover the costs of a lobbying firm.

We will let you know within the next week whether and how we will proceed on this issue.  If we believe we can raise the funds to cover representation in Tallahassee, we will set up a contribution page on our website.

Thank you for letting us know your level of support for this issue!

Click here to take the survey now

For those of you interested, there are two local meetings being held next week in Florida that could effect anti-anchoring bills being introduced this session.  Any municipality wanting a change to Florida statutes must have their legislative delegation introduce a bill.  We anticipate bills being introduced to limit anchoring within the City of Hollywood (they attempted a bill last year) and the City of Melbourne (their city council has already voted to pursue this with their legislative delegation).  The State Legislative Delegations representing both of those cities will meet next week.  Following are the details:

Broward County Delegation Meeting  (City of Hollywood is in Broward County)
Representative Richard Stark, Chairman of the Broward County Legislative Delegation
January 15th, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Public Hearing #2 and Local Bill Hearing/Vote
Topics: Juvenile Justice/Criminal Justice, Transportation, Economic Development, Environment & Growth Management
City of Sunrise Civic Center Theater
10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise, FL 33351

*As of now, no local anchoring bills have been listed, but in the past, some of the anchoring restriction attempts have been added to general bills. 

Brevard County Delegation Meeting (City of Melbourne is in Brevard County)
Representative Randy Fine, Chairman of the Brevard County Legislative Delegation
January 15th, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Palm Bay City Council Chambers
120 Malabar Road in Palm Bay, FL

 

SSCA 07-01-2019


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