County tightens floating home loophole

The Pirate being towed away | photo by John Patrick Ryan | post by Larry Clinton

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Issaquah Dock residents, the Marin County Board of Supervisors has tightened regulations governing floating homes from outside the county.

As reported in the Marin Independent Journal, the Supervisors “approved changes to the county code, specifying for the first time that anyone seeking to move a floating home into Marin must obtain a relocation permit.” An abridged summary of the Marin IJ article follows, with excerpts therefrom:

Issaquah resident and FHA secretary Candice Gold wrote in a December email to county officials: “We have been asking for 16 months to review and change the process by which floating homes are granted only an occupancy permit to move into Waldo Point Harbor, which translates into virtually no oversight by Marin County of what vessels are being towed into our marinas.”

Candice highlighted her concern about an application to move a floating home from the Docktown Marina in Redwood City to Issaquah Dock. The Redwood City Council in 2016 evicted Docktown boats and their residents and a number of the homes wound up in Sausalito.

“Here we are,” Gold wrote, “with no systems or transparent due process in place to truly oversee the relocation of another floating home into our marina that will inform or protect surrounding homeowners and our community.”

The application Candice referred to was filed in August 2022 by Dietrick Burks, a resident of Oakley, who declined to be quoted by the IJ. After Burks filed his application, 90 residents of Issaquah Dock signed a petition to the Board of Supervisors and the management of Waldo Point Harbor expressing their concerns about his plans.

The petition stated that Burks intended to make way for the floating home from Docktown by removing and destroying the historic and beloved Pirate at #4 Issaquah Dock, fashioned from a 1911 tugboat. The petition added that the replacement would be a “far larger floating home that is out of character with our dock.” The Pirate was moved out in late January and the new home moved into its berth a month later.

William Kelley, a deputy director in the county’s building and safety division, said of our community, “that is a high-value market down there, both for homes and also for short-term rentals.” Kelley added that people can buy a floating home outside of Marin and then either boost its selling price or increase its earning potential as a rental by towing it here.

Following the county code changes, anyone seeking a permit to relocate a floating home must submit documentation regarding its height, width and other characteristics. If the measurements fail to comply with county regulations, the permit won’t be issued.

When county supervisors approved the changes in February, Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters said, “now that we have people bringing boats in from other communities, it’s important to have the standards clarified and made very transparent.”

Commenting on the new regulation, Candice said: “It Takes a Village seems to apply in this instance. Several times, the journalist referred to communication between me and the County. I also want to credit Kimberly Wright (Yellow Ferry) and Addison Buz Olian of Issaquah Dock. They were as involved and committed to getting this process moving as I was and as a group we crafted the message to Stephanie Moulton-Peters and her team.”

Candice also credits FHA President Pete Hudson and his wife Anna Shimko (Main Dock) “for helping us compose this message and for reviewing the changes the County was proposing as well as the FHA’s Legislative Action Committee and the community members who worked with us.”