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King Harbor ‘Live-Aboards’ Told State Ruling Won’t Cause Evictions

Times Staff Writer

The City Council gave assurances this week that people who live on boats in Redondo Beach’s King Harbor will not be evicted because of a state agency’s ruling.

The council--reacting to a State Lands Commission statement that too much residential use of the harbor amounts to private use of public land--voted unanimously Tuesday to have the city staff prepare an emergency ordinance to forbid evictions based on the ruling.

The commission sent the city a letter last month recommending a reduction in the number of live-aboard boats from about 200 to 64, but the letter set no timetable.

Councilwoman Kay Horrell, whose district includes King Harbor, said that if such an ordinance were not possible, perhaps the marina operators who lease space from the city could be asked to sign letters promising not to use the commission’s letter as a reason to evict tenants.

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Les Guthrie, general partner with Marina Cove Ltd. and a lessee at King Harbor for 25 years, said any action by the City Council to protect live-aboards is commendable.

Michael Ford, who has lived on a boat at King Harbor for about eight years, said after the meeting that the council’s proposed ordinance is “good, it’s reassuring, it’s a positive statement.” But he said the state commission was arbitrary in its request to reduce the number of live-aboards from 13% of the harbor’s boat slips to only 3% to 4%.

Prompted by Complaint

Ironically, it was Ford’s complaint that the city was mismanaging King Harbor funds that focused the commission’s attention on the harbor. The commission found no fault with fund management but raised questions about the number of live-aboards.

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City Manager Tim Casey said the commission’s letter had created needless “panic and hysteria” and stressed that the commission will not police the city.

“We’re not under any gun, deadline or time line,” Casey said. “They certainly understand you don’t take a letter like this and go out and cause people hardship and disrupt their lives. Within limits, we will be free to establish our own live-aboard policy.”

Casey said it is unlikely that the city will be able to justify having more than the current 13% of slips occupied by live-aboards, but he said the state may allow more than 10%, the level used by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission in Northern California. The State Lands Commission said in its letter that a small number of live-aboards are needed to provide security.

Casey said another justification is the need for help in the event of a storm.

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“I’m going to assume if somebody else has justified 10%, I don’t see why we can’t justify it, and given the uniqueness of King Harbor in terms of storm damage, we might be able to justify more.”

Casey said an emergency ordinance will probably be presented to the council Jan. 3.


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