Florida’s state legislature enacted a landmark Working Waterfront law in 2005 that required municipalities on the water to encour- age the preservation of recreational and commercial water- dependent businesses. The measure came in response to rapidly escalating waterfront real-estate assessments, which had driven
up property taxes on tight-margin businesses like marinas. In too many cases,
those marinas couldn’t stay afloat and sold out to residential developers. What
quickly became labeled “condo creep” had resulted not just in slip shortages
but also led to a decline in marine-service providers such as boatyards and the
small businesses that recreational boaters relied on.
Other water-dependent businesses, such as commercial fishing and tour-boat
companies, yacht brokerages, and charter-fishing operations, faced the same threats,
and not just in Florida but in many other parts of the country, too. The situation led
to the formation of a national network of working-waterfront advocates who shared
Working Waterfronts At Risk?
A land rush 10 years ago gobbled up marinas and boatyards, leading to slip shortages and
beached marine businesses. The economy is recovering, but are things any different today?
local solutions – planning tools, policy
measures, and legal instruments – that
were designed to protect water-dependent businesses from coast to coast and to
enhance public access to the water.
This network first came together
in May 2007 at the first-ever National
Working Waterfronts and Waterways
Symposium organized by BoatU.S. and
Virginia Sea Grant Extension.
Today, with the economic recovery
underway, boating is making a strong
comeback along with other sectors of the
maritime small-business economy. New
powerboat sales are up almost 8* percent
year over year through July, and both sailboat and personal-watercraft sales posted
A BoatU.S. SPECIAL REPORT By Ryck Lydecker
The port of Seattle,
Washington, has a
broad mix of facilities
services for recreational
within a major