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TAKE ACTION: Stop Proposed Miami Beach 72-Hour Anchoring Ordinance
 

Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005

 
TAKE ACTION: Stop Proposed Miami Beach 72-Hour Anchoring Ordinance

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another commissioner claimed with authority that "72 hours was sufficient" time to wait for weather, those of us who have made the crossing know that small craft warnings are often posted for weeks at a time during the winter months, making the passage dangerous for many

On April 20, 2005 cruising sailors suffered another blow to their anchoring
rights when the Mayor and City Commissioners of Miami Beach, Florida
unanimously passed a bill prohibiting anchoring within city limits for
periods longer than 72 hours. The last hurdle before the bill becomes law
is a second public reading that will take place on Wednesday, May 18, 2005
at a public hearing in Commission Chambers at Miami Beach City Hall.
Miami Beach has become a favorite staging and provisioning location for a
large percentage of the estimated 100,000 boaters bound for the Bahamas, in
addition to boats headed for the Caribbean and Florida Keys each year.
Businesses in Miami Beach that serve the cruising community were not
consulted regarding the economic impact of the action. However, one
commissioner was somehow able to determine that "the amount of money spent
[by these boaters] was miniscule."


For cruising boats crossing the often turbulent Gulf Stream, concerns are
larger than where to provision. While another commissioner claimed with
authority that "72 hours was sufficient" time to wait for weather, those of
us who have made the crossing know that small craft warnings are often
posted for weeks at a time during the winter months, making the passage
dangerous for many. This extremely brief window will undoubtedly create a
situation that will force captains to decide between harassment and fines or
subjecting their boats and crews to seas neither were meant to handle.
Fortunately, there is an exception to the 72-hour limit during periods when
hurricane warnings are in effect or when members of the crew are sick.
The reason most often cited by the eight or so residents who spoke in favor
of the restriction was the visual intrusion associated with vessels anchored
near their expensive waterfront homes. Also cited were theft, trespass, and
pollution.

Dr. Morris Sunshine, Chairman of the Miami Beach Marine
Authority, an advisory group on marine matters, testified before
Commissioners that the Commander of the Miami Beach Marine Patrol was
questioned by the Authority and could not cite a single case of theft
attributable to the cruising community. The Commissioners ignored Dr.
Sunshine's request to firmly instruct the City Manager to start planning to
install a mooring field and to designate a legal anchoring area.


In contrast to cities like Vero Beach, Florida where forward-looking leaders
implemented well-thought-out plans that cleaned up derelict boats from the
harbor, accommodated seasonal boaters, and brought revenue to the city and
local businesses, the Miami Beach leadership's plan is to spend $1.75
million over the next two years to enforce a legally questionable ordinance
that chases legitimate boaters and their business away while leaving the
real problems behind.


After last year's hurricane season, the Florida Legislature is being
pressured to allow marina operators to force boat owners out of the marinas
during major storms. Therefore, it makes far more sense to spend money to
provide a harbor with safe, heavy-duty moorings that will protect residents'
boats during hurricanes in the summer, and accommodate transient boats year
round. The City can then prohibit anchoring elsewhere, protecting the
seabed and eliminating derelict boats, if it so chooses. It's ironic that a
city that spends millions each year to attract tourists, and hosts the
largest boat show in the U.S., is trying to pass a law that will chase a
large and responsible group of boaters out of local waters.


This ordinance is full of holes and could be defeated by a coalition of
boaters who are losing their rights, local businesses whose profits will
suffer, and residents who will bear the $1.75 million enforcement price tag
that benefits a handful of Miami Beach's wealthiest residents. Local
regulators rely on the assumption that sailors have little interest in
waging political/legal battles; so in addition to local action, we must also
address this issue through the state legislature and courts.


The marine industry is one of Florida's largest - it's time for businesses
to realize that they must persuade lawmakers in Tallahassee to protect
boaters' right of access to safe haven before there are no boaters left to
buy their products. The two primary marine trade associations that may be
able to achieve a workable solution to this situation are listed below.


WHAT YOU CAN DO
Write or e-mail the people or associations below. Tell them about your
boating habits - where you cruise, how much you spend, what your safety
issues are, that you're a member of SSCA and what clean wake cruising means.
You will also find links to other representatives of the marine industry and
to your Florida legislators on the Seven Seas Cruising Association website,
www.SSCA.org. Tell anybody you think might be affected - other boaters,
merchants, local law enforcement agencies, community leaders - and direct
them to the same resources.
Visit www.SSCA.org for links to representatives of the marine industry as
well as information about the organization itself.
Attend the May 18 meeting at Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center
Drive, Miami Beach FL, 33139
Follow movement of the bill at www.miamibeachfl.gov.
Find your legislators at www.myFlorida.com.
Email or write to:
Mayor David Dermer: mayordermer@miamibeachfl.gov
City Staff Attorney Gary Held: garyheld@miamibeachfl.gov
City Manager Jorge Gonzalez: jorgegonzalez@miamibeachfl.gov
Commissioners:
Matti Bower: matti@miamibeachfl.gov
Jose Smith: jose@miamibeachfl.gov
Saul Gross: saul@miamibeachfl.gov
Richard Steinberg: richard@miamibeachfl.gov
Simon Cruz: simon@miamibeachfl.gov
Luis Garcia: luis@miamibeachfl.gov
National Marine Manufactures Association (NMMA), Thom Dammrich, President
200 Randolph Drive, Suite 5100, Chicago, IL 60601-6528
(312) 946-6200, (312) 946-0401-fax; www.nmma.org and www.discoverboating.com
The NMMA sponsors the annual Miami Boat Show, held simultaneously in three
venues in Miami Beach and two venues in Miami. Relocating even one of the
sites out of Miami Beach and into Miami would send a significant economic
message.
Marine Industries Association of South Florida, 2312 S Andrews Blvd, Ft
Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 524-2733, www.miasf.org
MIASF is a marine trade association lobby group.


Richard Blackford
Vice President, at the direction of the SSCA Board of Directors

Seven Seas Cruising Association www.ssca.org

 
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