A liveaboard study was requested at the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting Wednesday morning, September 13th, in Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey.

Commission chair Harley Searcy requested that Stan Wisniewski, director of Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, conduct a study of other marinas nationally and internationally to determine how those entities deal with liveaboard boaters’ rights and status as renters.

“This is an economic issue” for people of modest means, not just about liveaboard, Searcy said.

Some liveaboards claim that because of the financial gain to be realized by charging more money for larger, newer boats to anchor at the slips, dock operators are evicting them in general, as well as while docks are being remodeled.

The question of liveaboard boaters’ rights being recognized has long been an issue for liveaboard boat owners in Marina del Rey, particularly their being evicted from slips without a reason with only a 30-day notice.

Some liveaboards claim that they have been discriminated against, and say that other liveaboards are fearful of complaining because they are afraid of being evicted and having no place else to go.

There is no requirement to give apartment renters a reason for evictions either, and they also receive a 30-day notice, according to Searcy.

Searcy pointed out that the issue of Marina del Rey being built on county-owned property that is leased to those that have developed it also means that there is a public purpose to generate income for county services and the ten million to 15 million county residents who rely on those services.

Small Craft Harbor Commission member Albert Landini had proposed drafting a memo for the commission’s consideration requesting that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors consider proposing new state legislation to grant residential renter status to liveaboard boat owners.

But neither Searcy nor commission member Russ Lesser seconded the motion at this time, saying they required more information about the situation.

Searcy advised liveaboard boat owners to unite with tenant organizations — groups such as POWER (People Organized for Westside Renewal) — to work with attorneys and law students to come up with ideas to solve the problem and to attempt to change the California state law regarding the renter status of liveaboard residents.

County counsel Tom Faughnan noted that California Assembly Bill (AB) 1169 regarding a requirement for tenants to receive a 60-day notice prior to rental contract termination if they have resided there for over one year had gone to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk for signature.

The bill would be in effect until January 1st, 2010 and was authored by Assemblymember Alberto Torrico with principal co-author State Senator Sheila Kuehl, who represents the local 23rd District.

The bill passed the State Senate August 10th and the Assembly on August 22nd.

One public speaker suggested that liveaboard boat owners should be considered as part of the affordable housing policy for the Marina, which would aid the liveaboards and address the question of affordable housing in the Marina.

David Levine, president of the Marina del Rey Lessees Association, said the association is opposed to a proposal to seek new state legislation because state and federal courts have already determined that liveaboards don’t have the same rights as apartment tenants.

Los Angeles County owns the land in Marina del Rey, and negotiates with lessees to lease individual parcels of land for development and use as hotels, apartments, boat docks with slip rentals, restaurants and various types of businesses.

Levine said that liveaboard boat owners have legal means to address harassment by these lessees if there is such harassment.

Levine told The Argonaut that ten percent of every anchorage at the Marina has liveaboards and there are appropriate places for liveaboards in the Marina.

The Marina Lessees Association doesn’t believe that special status should be given to liveaboards or that they should be granted the same status as apartment residents, said Levine.

He claimed that a handful of liveaboards seek “a public subsidy” and special treatment for “a few with derelict boats,” and that some of these boats would fail to pass physical inspections and insurance regulations.

Levine’s comments drew angered responses from some in the audience.

PANAY WAY MARINA — At the previous Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting on August 9th, slip tenants had expressed concern over dock remodeling at Panay Way Marina.

Wisniewski said that the B1700 dock is now vacated and remodeling is to begin.

The B1300 and B1500 dock tenants were given notices to evacuate, but dock replacement will be staggered, with boats placed at other docks so that all are not forced to move at one time.

Slip tenants will be asked to return after remodeling, except for those who will not be asked back due to violations, said Wisniewski.

MARINA SHERIFF’S STATION REPORT — Lt. Greg Nelson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Marina Station reported that crime was lower than average for the summer.

He attributed this to a general decrease in crime for the county, field deputies making arrests, and the use of bike teams during the summer.

— The north end of the Marina Harbor is to be dredged beginning Friday, December 15th, and will be closed for approximately 60 days.

— A Marina sheriff’s sergeant reported that the data base for liveaboard boaters has been computerized, allowing more accuracy and control over permits and procedures.

He said that figures may be inaccurate because previous paperwork listed only numbers of liveaboards, rather than tracking issuance of permits and keeping movements from one marina to another.

Cooperation with dockmasters regarding tenants will give a more accurate count of which liveaboard tenants have active permits and which have expired permits or have moved to another marina.

Searcy requested that the new report be presented to the commission after 30 days.

— During public comment, the question of Deauville Marina still not being operable after lengthy remodeling raised the issue of whether the lessee, Doug Ring, should have to face some sort of penalty, such as reverting back to the original lease if the project is not completed in time.

There was no comment by county officials at the meeting regarding this matter.