Mooring Fields and Marinas as Businesses
By Steve Morrell
Although mooring fields have been around in Florida for decades, most of them today have been created since 2000. They are a relatively new idea in Florida. Anchorages, as we all know, have been around wherever there’s water for a few thousand years. But they, and mooring fields, sure create a lot of controversy.
In St. Augustine, in 2008, they cut back the number of moorings from 369 to 227. In one of the two fields planned, residents complained that it would still be too big and would look like a “parking lot” (unpaved, of course). The city responded that if they cut it back any farther, there would be a lot of boats anchored in the same area, reminding many that communities cannot regulate anchoring outside of mooring fields. So you might as well have a mooring field you can control. Some of these waterfront property owners, thinking the water is theirs, don’t want to see any boats in front of their homes.
This is typical of what is going on, but it is really the same old story. Waterfront property owners want to control the water in front of their homes. They complain that there are lots of boaters, and they all pollute and make noise (ignoring the fact that waterfront property owners are a much larger source of water pollution than boaters). These landowners just don’t want them there. They forget: They did not buy those waters.
From the boaters’ side, they don’t want mooring fields. They want to still anchor, because many have been doing so for years—for free. Why should they have to start paying now? Next, the communities want to charge them to come ashore—something else they have been doing for free for years. CHARGE MONEY TO COME ASHORE? There’s a new concept.
We boaters might as well accept the fact that mooring fields are here to stay and be thankful that the courts are on our side. What we need to fight for is to hold onto these rights (because the landowners want them) and also to make sure we get good fields with good services. What we must do is fight for good reasonable services—at reasonable prices. Cruisers visit towns just like other people. They just come in boats, but towns want to charge boaters for every step. Charge for mooring, charge for bringing the dinghy in, charge for going to the bathroom. Run it like a “business” (the new fad word in “modern” government).
In another news piece in “Our Waterways,” we report that Plantation Key Yacht Harbor wants to run their marina like a business. Why do they think that way? Do we run the cars that come through our towns as a business? If we did, there would be a toll gate at every town entry, and a toll would be charged for the cars’ pollution, noise, pavement, paving, curbs, maintenance, stop lights, signs, police road patrols, etc. I say let them park on the edge of town and walk in—or rent them an electric cart (call it a “land dinghy”). How much money would towns make, er—save, that way? How much quieter would towns be? How many drunk drivers would we have? How much healthier would people be walking everywhere? How much green space would towns have?
And charge them to walk in. Run it like a business.