Board not against liveaboard option

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nonna Shtipelman's April 12 letter suggested liveaboard housing as an affordable option in Juneau, one that has been available for many years. Liveaboard housing is not for everyone, but for some, it is an excellent choice. In fact, our top harbor managers are liveaboards.

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The morning of April 18, there were 81 single-family homes for sale on Multiple Listing Service averaging $375,000, 21 attached homes averaging $267,000 and 31 condominiums averaging $207,000. The classifieds show a reasonable boat can be purchased for less than $50,000. Moorage downtown after July 1 will cost $3.42 per foot per month (to be paid a year in advance) and liveaboard fees are $69 per month.

Contrary to Shtipelman's letter, the Docks and Harbor Board does not discourage liveaboards, in sharp contrast to a majority of boards and harbormasters throughout the Northwest. Again, our top officials live on their boats.

In the 1980s, when the state handed operational control of harbors to the city, the policy was, indeed, to discourage liveaboards. Public Works put a $100 per month fee on liveaboards. After the Harbor Board was empowered, an early action was a major fee reduction. As part of recent fee changes, there will be an increase in liveaboard fees on July 1 to only $69 per month. Liveaboard fees are not subject to annual cost of living adjustment increases; after July 1, the board will have to actively take action to change the liveaboard fee.

The board's finance committee examined the fee structure and policies relating to liveaboards elsewhere in Alaska and the Northwest. We found our policies did not discourage liveaboards and that our fee structure was in line with those harbor systems that allow it.

I thank the writer for suggesting liveaboard housing as an affordable option. The Docks and Harbor Board, contrary to stated opinion, has formally worked toward making liveaboards more welcome. This board certainly is not maligning the liveaboard community. We have repeatedly noted that the presence of full-time residents in the harbors enhances security and provides a community atmosphere. The board and harbormaster do have a policy to remove derelict vessels and other problems from the harbor system, but this is not focused on liveaboards.

Anyone interested should attend board meetings to voice their opinions or contact our port director at 586-0292 for current rules and regulations regarding liveaboards.

Jim Preston

Chairman, Harbor Board Finance Committee, and Realtor


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