1 LiveBloggin' the ICW

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Miami Beach Boaters Are Being Screwed...And You are Next!


Where to start this post? I have never in my life seen what I'm seeing now in Miami Beach. Essentially, Miami Beach is out to screw anyone anchoring out in their waters. And, to their credit, they are doing it very efficiently.

Miami Beach has been anti-anchoring for as long as I can remember, and that memory takes us back to the early 00s. For some history on what's gone on in Miami Beach, see this blog post. These people have hated boaters anchoring out for many, many years.
Recently however, Miami Beach has managed to excel itself in its hatred of anchored out boaters. I know, hard to believe. Here's the scenario. 

Currently, there are ~137 boats anchored out within Miami Beach's jurisdiction, and that includes some 100 or so people living aboard. I took a run through the anchorage about a week ago - there are a couple of sketchy boats and a small houseboat the size of a large shed, but by and large, the boats run from decent to very good condition. There's a jet ski rental operation at anchor to avoid Miami Beach regulation - that is a problem. Otherwise, it's a fairly typical anchorage.

However, Miami Beach residents, including a number of "condo commandos" in the nearby towers, have complained about boats at anchor. The city council is listening to them and has decided to act. Here is how it's going down.

In 2022, MB applied for a mooring field. The usual process of setting up a mooring field typically takes 2 - 3 years from first proposals to opening day. MB's process is at the two year mark and the field won't be open until March 2026. 

Ok, so what's the problem here? The city refuses to complete the mooring field process unless it gets permission for an Anchoring Limitation Area (ALA) from Miami Dade County. It has made this decision part of its process for proceeding with the mooring field. No ALA, no mooring field. From what I've seen, the City expects this to be granted. What it means is that the city can then remove the anchor outs after 45 days after the ALA is granted and properly set up.

I just spoke with people at Miami Dade County who are involved with permitting any mooring field in the county. There is no chance that an ALA will be in place this year, and from the discussion, it's not very likely to happen in 2025 either. Therefore, based on the City's own resolution, there will be no mooring field.
City of Miami Beach officials were unaware of this fact. They advise me that they are continuing to work on the mooring field, as ordered by management, which of course is acting on the orders of the Commissioners. 

But - on top of this, the Florida legislature has a bill in front of it, SB 192 in the Senate, that if passed will disallow overnight anchoring within 200 yards of Miami Beach's shoreline. The problem there is that anything beyond that 200 yards is much too shallow to anchor in. The bill effectively outlaws anchoring in Miami Beach.

How does that work? If SB 192 is passed, there will be no boats anchored in Miami Beach. No boats, no need for a mooring field, right? 

If SB 192 is passed, it will be illegal to anchor overnight anywhere in Miami Beach after July 1, 2024.. If the bill is not passed, and the ALA is permitted by the County, then 45 days after the ALA is permitted, any boats anchored in Miami Beach will have to leave within 45 days, because the mooring field won't be open.

Basically, if you're living aboard or have your boat anchored out in Miami Beach, you're screwed. 
I grant you, this is very clever on the part of the Miami Beach city commissioners. They want the boaters gone, and this, if they get their way, will accomplish it.

But wait, you say. In 2025, the boaters can return to the mooring field. Or in the meantime, they can move to a marina.

Well, maybe. Actually, maybe not. The boaters who will have left will have re-established themselves elsewhere, or moved ashore. My bet is that the moorings will go to non-liveaboard boaters, locals who want a cheaper place to store their boat.

And if the current boaters move to a marina - oh, wait. There are no marina slips available. I phoned every marina in Miami and Miami beach last week. There weren't even ten transient slips available, much less any long term liveaboard slips.

All this is assuming that the mooring field actually is put in place. If that sounds cynical, there's this in the mooring field information:

The City will permit the entire mooring field area and build the anchors/mooring balls as needed, but the entire area will be under City control even if no anchors are installed. As a result, the marina patrol can enforce any unauthorized mooring.

Did you get that? If the city gets permits and then decides NOT to put up moorings, they can still police the area and ticket boats that anchor there. That's world class sneaky right there. And why would they choose not to install the mooring balls? Maybe because there's no need, as there are no boats anchored out, because of SB 192? Or am I just being overly cynical? 

Bottom line, there is no place for these boaters to go if they want to remain on the water, other than to move away from their jobs and their loved ones, or give up their boats and move ashore. And there's no place for you, as a transient boater, to anchor out anywhere in Miami Beach.

I mentioned that Miami Beach has been nasty - but I didn't get into that in detail. Let me do that now. 

City commissioner David Suarez, newly elected last fall and who, because of his behavior and attitude is already despised by many in the city's administration with whom I've spoken, appears to be the tip of this spear. He seems to have the backing of all the commissioners on this issue.

Shortly before Christmas, the city removed the sole dock available for boaters to go ashore, located at the Publix store on the Collins Canal. Local boaters used this dock to go ashore for food, run errands and to go to work. With details from the Miami Herald...

So Suarez and the commissioners removed the dock, tore it out about a week before Christmas, at night. They put up "NO TRESPASS" signs. And then Saurez went on TV and said gleefully that anchored out boaters would have to break the law to come ashore, and this would force them to move away.
"They can’t live on a boat forever," Suarez said during discussion of his proposal at the Dec. 13 commission meeting. "They have to come to the land to get food, water and necessary supplies...
..."we're cutting off basically their lifeline and then they’re going to have to be forced to do illegal trips to our sea wall." 

A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS.  Scrooge has nothing on this prick.

Here's a link to the entire story.

Now for the record - Suarez is not a lily white crusader saving the citizens of Miami Beach from the evil anchor outs. He has been arrested for burglary. In 2022, following his divorce, the courts ordered his guns removed from his home for the protection of his children. From the Miami Herald:

Suarez was arrested in 2003 for burglary with tools and trespassing without authority as part of what he says was a “high school prank.” Prosecutors chose not to pursue the charges. During a divorce and custody proceeding in Broward County in 2020, a judge ordered Suarez to temporarily turn over a dozen guns and his concealed carry permit to police amid concerns they weren’t being stored safely around his young child.

And, he's currently being sued by a local developer for defamation. 

More recently, on January 25, he got into an argument with a local boater. The police intervened to keep the peace and the event was captured on police body cam video. In the video, Suarez' dog can be seen running around with no leash, in violation of the city's leash laws. You can see the video, with Suarez arguing with the police and trying to push the officer around, right here.

It seems that Suarez likes to make others follow the law while he ignores it. 

So what can we, as boaters, do to stop this? First of all, SB 192 needs to be stopped. If it isn't, other communities will demand the same sort of laws for their waters. If that happens, boaters will very shortly have no place left to anchor in Florida. Given that there is not nearly enough dockage for locals, much less transient boaters, that will create significant problems for all of us. 

We need all boaters and anyone else concerned about this overreaching legislation to contact the Senate Rules Committee by email and/or telephone and register their displeasure with this bill. If you're a Boat US member, you've already (or should have) received a link to do this. If not, the emails you need to contact the Rules committee are at the bottom of this article. 

A simple message stating that you are a boater and you object to Senate Bill 192 and want it removed from consideration will be adequate. Additional talking points will be on the Cruisers Rights Network FB page, details below.

Please be sure to do this. The senators need to know that we are watching and that we do not approve of SB 192. If you're a Florida resident, contact your Senator by phone AND email and make him/her aware of your views. Tell them you expect them to vote against SB 192, and don't forget to remind them, there's an election coming up soon. That seems to get their attention! Can't imagine why...

Secondly - join the Cruisers Rights Network of North America's Facebook page, at  Cruisers Rights Network. There will be regular updates on this issue there. 

Thirdly - we may need to fundraise for this effort. If we do, the appeal will go out on the FB page. Please be open to helping us fight to preserve your anchoring rights.

Lastly, and this is most important - spread the word to other boaters through your boating groups, your personal FB page and other social media. The more boaters who are aware of what is going on, the easier this will be to stop. There truly is power in numbers.

Constituency Talahassee Senator email

(321) 409-2025 (850) 487-5019 mayfield.debbie.web@flsenate.gov

(352) 264-4040 (352) 670-4212 perry.keith.web@flsenate.gov

(352) 750-3133 (850) 487-5013 baxley.dennis.web@flsenate.gov
(954) 424-6674 (850) 487-5035 book.lauren.web@flsenate.gov

(941) 742-6445 (850) 487-5020 boyd.jim.web@flsenate.gov

(407) 333-1802 (850) 487-5010 brodeur.jason.web@flsenate.gov

(850) 595-1036 (850) 487-5001 broxson.doug.web@flsenate.gov

(813) 779-7059 (850) 487-5023 burgess.danny.web@flsenate.gov

(863) 413-1529 (850) 487-5012 burton.colleen.web@flsenate.gov

(727) 563-1910 (850) 487-5018 diceglie.nick.web@flsenate.gov

(305) 442-6841 (850) 487-5036 garcia.ileana.web@flsenate.gov

(727) 771-2102 (850) 487-5021 hooper.ed.web@flsenate.gov

(386) 446-7610 (850) 487-5007 Hutson.travis.web@flsenate.gov

(305) 493-6002 (850) 487-5034 jones.shevrin.web@flsenate.gov

(954) 321-2705 (850) 487-5032 osgood.rosalind.web@flsenate.gov

(305) 470-2552 (850) 487-5040 rodriguez.anamaria.web@flsenate.gov

(727) 822-6828 (727) 822-6828 rouson.darryl.web@flsenate.gov

(850) 487-5003 simon.corey.web@flsenate.gov

(407) 846-5187 (850) 487-5025 torres.victor.web@flsenate.gov

(904) 723-2035 (850) 487-5004 yarborough.clay.web@flsenate.gov

emails only: You can copy and past this list into your browser to save having to send multiple emails