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Your Right to Anchor in Florida Is Once Again in Jeopardy

As the Florida Legislative Session begins, we are once again expecting a slew of bills to be filed that call for banning overnight anchoring in specific areas in Florida.  This has been an on-going issue for several years, and SSCA, as part of a coalition formed to protect Boaters’ Rights, has been successful in keeping most anchorages open for our members.  Please read on for the history of this issue, the expectations for the upcoming legislative session, and what we need from our members to continue the fight.  PLEASE NOTE:  SSCA DOES NOT USE DUES MONEY FOR THIS FIGHT — ONLY BOATER CONTRIBUTIONS.

We have collected all of the funds needed to support this effort for this year.  THANK YOU!

2019-03-13 update: Thank you to all the generous contributors to our Advocacy Fund!  We have raised the amount needed to cover lobbying fees and expenses for this year.  We appreciate your engagement in this important issue!

The date by which bills must be filed for this legislative session in Florida has passed.  Thanks in part to our lobbyist's efforts, no bills have been filed in that would further restrict anchoring.  We are still monitoring the situation, as amendments could be attached to other bills that would have an adverse affect on our members. 
 

History:

For several years, anchorages have been under attack in Florida, sometimes by waterfront home owners who prefer not to have boats anchored in the waterways outside their homes. More often, however, responsible boaters are caught up in the “derelict vessels” issue, which is a serious problem in Florida.   By working with their state legislative delegations to pass restrictions on anchoring in their waterways, municipalities think they’ll have an easier time ridding their area of abandoned boats and/or those anchored with no intention (nor ability, in many cases) of ever moving.

In 2015 a bill was filed to ban anchoring within 200 feet of developed waterfront property in Florida.  Cruisers were successful in defeating that bill.  Thinking our efforts were over, the boating community did not actively participate in the process in Tallahassee in 2016, and a bill passed that closed four anchorages in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area to overnight anchoring.  

Because of the failure in 2016, our coalition re-engaged in 2017 and was successful in keeping the power to regulate anchoring with the state GOVERNMENT, rather than municipalities, which was important in preventing a patchwork of laws from being passed by various municipalities and counties.  Further, no new anchorages were added to the list of those where overnight anchoring is restricted. In 2018, an amendment was filed to restrict overnight anchoring in two more anchorages, and we were successful in getting the amendment withdrawn from the bill before a vote was taken.
 

Expectations for the Coming Legislative Session:

We are expecting the legislative delegates from several additional municipalities, to once again try to amend the existing statute to add their anchorages to the list of those that are closed to any overnight anchoring.  We must remain vigilant or we face losing the right to anchor in additional areas, and the Florida gateway route to the Bahamas and Caribbean will see new hurdles for boaters.

The most successful way to have our voices heard and to get results has been representation by a lobbyist who knows the ins-and-outs of the legislative process in Florida.  The lobbyist that has represented your interests in the past has been very successful.  But, of course, there is a cost associated with that.  We hope that once again those costs can be shared among our full coalition, which includes Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA), America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA), Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), and the DeFever Cruisers.
 

What We Need from Cruisers:

We are now accepting contributions to help fund our advocacy efforts.  The last time we put out a request was 2017, and at that time, boaters were generous.  About $11,000 remains from our coalition’s last call for funding.  We estimate needing an additional $20,000 for this legislative session.

SSCA does not use our membership fees to support advocacy.  We are active advocates for our members in many ways, but we handle most issues with staff time and expertise, and grass-roots efforts from our members when needed.  Florida is a bell-weather state that has a strong influence on other states' restrictions on boaters.  Advocating in all states would be cost-prohibitive, and even if we used membership dues it would be cost prohibitive to our organization.  Further, we know that there are some of you who may not be interested in certain issues.  Therefore, we’ve taken the approach of asking our members to contribute individually to specific issues when needed and we leave it up to each of you to decide whether to participate.

If the funds collected exceed what is needed to engage our Lobbyist, the remainder of SSCA member contributions will be held by the Association to help offset travel costs for members and staff who go to Tallahassee to participate in the process.  The remaining excess, if it exists, will be held for use on future advocacy efforts.

Click here to contribute to our Advocacy Fund!

January 4, 2019:

For those of you interested, there are two local meetings being held next week in Florida that could effect anti-anchoring bills being introduced this session.  Any municipality wanting a change to Florida statutes must have their legislative delegation introduce a bill.  We anticipate bills being introduced to limit anchoring within the City of Hollywood (they attempted a bill last year) and the City of Melbourne (their city council has already voted to pursue this with their legislative delegation).  The State Legislative Delegations representing both of those cities will meet next week.  Following are the details:

Broward County Delegation Meeting  (City of Hollywood is in Broward County)

Representative Richard Stark, Chairman of the Broward County Legislative Delegation
January 15th, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Public Hearing #2 and Local Bill Hearing/Vote
Topics: Juvenile Justice/Criminal Justice, Transportation, Economic Development, Environment & Growth Management
City of Sunrise Civic Center Theater
10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise, FL 33351

*As of now, no local anchoring bills have been listed, but in the past, some of the anchoring restriction attempts have been added to general bills.

Brevard County Delegation Meeting (City of Melbourne is in Brevard County)
Representative Randy Fine, Chairman of the Brevard County Legislative Delegation
January 15th, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Palm Bay City Council Chambers
120 Malabar Road in Palm Bay, FL

If any members are willing and able to attend these meetings, please let us know.

Curtis Stokes
Marine Weather Center
Bloomsbury
SSCA
500 Oakbrook Lane
Summerville, SC 29485
Phone: (754) 702-5068
Email: office@ssca.org