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The Moorage Tenants Union: An Introduction

The Port Townsend Moorage Tenants Union was founded in 2007 to provide a representative voice for the 440 marina tenants when dealing with the Port of Port Townsend. At that time, rates were increasing at 8 % a year and boat ownership for the average citizen in Jefferson County was in jeopardy. Happily, over the last three years, the Tenants Union has successfully cooperated with the Port to limit moorage rate increases. As the Union has evolved, however, its relationship with the Port has extended beyond that of simple rate issues, and has able to effect a number of accomplishments.

Along with the marine trades and the trailer boater community, we have become a viable member of the Port’s group of Boat Haven stake holders. We were active members of the Port’s strategic planning committee. During the 2 years of that process, we were able to redraft the mission statement of the Port to include vital issues to the tenants, including maintenance of the facility and affordable access. The participation of the Union in the planning of the A and B dock replacement project helped to ensure that adequate moorage for smaller vessels is provided. Entering the realm of electoral politics, we helped elect two outstanding Port Commissioners who better understand the concerns of marina tenants. Through letters to the editor and in other forums, we work to counter the common misperception that tax revenue subsidizes moorage. As we well know, the truth is quite the opposite.

We have worked with the Commission and staff to amend moorage policies and for a brief period were able establish a moorage – haul out exchange program. Lastly, the Tenants Union successfully lobbied the Port Commission to annually dedicate $250,000 from moorage revenues to fund the Boat Haven reserve fund, which will reach 1.2 million dollars by the end of 2011. These funds are identified for the maintenance and repair of C, D, and the commercial dock, in order to enhance public safety and to extend the life span of those docks.

Nevertheless, there still remains a large philosophical divide between the Port and marina tenants. The Port continues to believe that its main mandate is economic development, narrowly defined, and that the primary purpose of the marina to provide funds for economic development. This long-held position has made moorage tenants the “cash cow” for many expensive Port projects. Historically, the revenues from the moorage tenants have been used for the construction of the heavy haul out, the shipyard, the airport, and the administration offices. None of the above projects have any direct benefit to the moorage tenants, who nevertheless have provided much of the funds for them.

In addition, none of these projects have been able to financially sustain themselves and moorage funds continue to be needed to support these projects. It has become clear that if the moorage tenants are to control rates, we must oversee Port finances. As a result, the Moorage Tenants Union has become the only public watchdog of Port spending.

The union will continue to represent the interest of the members and to provide a source for information on Port activities. In addition the union will be surveying its members to establish profiles and trends that can be used to define and preserve the integrity of the marina community.

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Responses

  1. The moorage rates are on the port’s agenda this week:

    Port of Port Townsend
    Meeting Documents: Monday, November 9, 2015 Public Workshop
    Nov 6, 2015 | Commission Business | 0 comments
    Port of Port Townsend Public Workshop
    MONDAY, November 9, 2015, 9:30 AM
    Port Commission Building
    333 Benedict Street
    Port Townsend, WA

    AGENDA
    2016 Budget:
    Final discussions on the 2016 Operating Budget.
    Meeting Documents: Monday, November 9, 2015 Commission Meeting and 2nd Budget Public Hearing
    Nov 6, 2015 | Commission Business | 0 comments
    Port of Port Townsend
    2nd Monthly Meeting Agenda & 2nd Public Hearing on 2016 Operating Budget
    Wednesday, November 9, 2015, 1:00 PM
    Port Commission Building
    333 Benedict Street, Port Townsend, WA
    I. Call to Order / Pledge of Allegiance
    II. Approval of Agenda
    III. Public Hearing on 2016 Operating Budget, 2016 Rates and 2016 Property Tax Levy

  2. Thank you for starting this moorage tenants union. I have been a moorage tenant since 2007 but have not been seriously seeking information, until this current commissioners election. In reading your home page, I am wondering if the funds set aside were able to be used as they were intended; “.. the Tenants Union successfully lobbied the Port Commission to annually dedicate $250,000 from moorage revenues to fund the Boat Haven reserve fund, which will reach 1.2 million dollars by the end of 2011. These funds are identified for the maintenance and repair of C, D, and the commercial dock, in order to enhance public safety and to extend the life span of those docks.” The Port has recently hired an engineer to evaluate what needs to be repaired…where can we see this list?
    Pam

  3. Please help! we are tenants of Lakewood and Leschi moorages on Lake washington. the custodian is Seattle Parks which WILL NOT put any money or let the concessionaire put money back into the moorages. Our docks and piers are falling into the water. Only conclusion we have come to is Parks wants to let the docks fail, condemn them and kick us out so they can bring in a big developer, take out the majority of small boat slips and replace with Large Yacht basins and increase rent. What can we do to defend ourselves??? help

  4. DIANA TALLEY IS RUNNING FOR PORT COMMISSIONER..
    IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME OF HER IDEAS GO TO HER WORDPRESS SITE : https://dianatalley.wordpress.com/

    LON

  5. The Port of Port Townsend is an organization that has run amok. However this is not something new. It has been festering for sometime now and is ingrained in the culture of the organization. The only way to improve it is to remove all those involved with another boater centric type of management that is self sustaining. I suspect more than large projects the current organization spends most of its revenue on high salaries for many levels of bureaucracy.

  6. Dear Friends, Glad to learn of your fine work. It was much needed for nearly 40 years the Port has operated as a fiefdom. Are there other organizations doing the same work regulating other port authorities? Would your organization support a program for clients of one port to interchange their moorage with a client of another port on a temporary basis? Thanks very much. Stephen Smith, Poulsbo, Wa stepsmit@seanet.com 206-465-8007

    • STEVE,
      THANKS FOR JOINING.
      I THINK JOINING FORCES WITH OTHER MOORAGE GROUPS WOULD BE A MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE STRATEGY.
      THERE IS A MOORAGE TENANTS GROUP AT PORT ANGELES THAT WE SHOULD ALSO INVOLVE.

      LON


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