The following is a message from Scott Berg of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, asking cruisers to weigh in on legislation to extend Florida's anchoring and mooring field law:
By way of background:
The Florida Mooring Field Pilot Program, codified in Florida statute 327.4105, is scheduled to sunset in July 2014. SB1126 seeks to extend the program until 2017 to allow time for FWC collect additional data and to develop a statute which codifies the lessons learned in the pilot program.
This is not the time to debate the role of mooring fields in general; the ones that are here are probably here to stay, at least for now. It is the time to ensure that the rights we gained to anchor without being hassled by local marine police are protected and continued. The statute, as currently written, prohibits Counties, Cities, and other Municipalities from regulating the anchoring of cruising boats in Florida outside of established mooring fields. While acknowledging that the law is far from perfect, SSCA’s Board and Concerned Cruising Committee strongly support this extension.
Please understand that our current choice in Florida isn’t a yes or no on existing mooring fields. It’s yes or no on the right to anchor with limited interference. With that right comes our need to coexist with the mooring fields. Some are fine, some less so, but they are a fact of life and our goal is to be sure that anchoring rights are preserved to the extent possible. SSCA has a seat at the table with Boat US and we are taken seriously by the Florida FWC. The SB1126, as changed, isn’t consistent with our long conversations and is politically driven by a few anti-boater property owners.
What is happening tomorrow:
An amendment to SB1126 has been proposed by Senator Gwen Margolis that would gut many of the protections it provides in both Dade and Broward County. Specifically it says:
(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), a municipality located within a charter county that has a population of at least 1.748 million may regulate overnight anchoring if the regulation is limited to the distance a vessel may be anchored from a private residence. This paragraph expires on October 31, 2017.
Please note that this runs the risk of making 327.4105 a patchwork of exceptions that defeats the goal of having one statewide set of anchoring regulations in Florida.
SB1126 as Amended is up before the Appropriations Committee tomorrow. Please write to your FL senator as well as Senator Gwen Margolis and her Legislative Aide Zorida Druckman. Their email addresses are:
firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com.
If you are a resident of Sen. Margolis’ district a phone call might help also. 327.4105 as extended by SB1126 isn’t perfect, but it’s MUCH better than nothing and the proposed amendment limits its effectiveness by permitting local officials to again harass visiting cruisers.