Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Forever Wars

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

The hottest topic circulating among East Coast cruisers this year, is the proposed Florida Law that would ban anchoring within 200 feet of any "developed property."   Such a law would be a major blow to boating in this state.

I understand the emotions of people who spend millions on a waterfront property who bristle at the (potentially unsightly) view of a boat anchored 50 feet away.  Add to that the thought that the persons on the boat are paying no taxes and it makes the property owners go ballistic.

But those people forget that the water is not "their" back yard. Waterways are public. They have no more right to a 200 foot exclusive use right on the water side of their properties as they do on the land borders of their property.   Imagine if they could prevent another building from being built, or a street, or parking a car within 200 feet of their property boundaries.  That would be silly, right?  Well, it is just as silly on the water side of these properties.

This is not the first time this topic was current.  Once before, perhaps 2007 anchoring rights were debated and a new law was passed favoring the boaters. In 2012 (if I remember right) the so-called "pilot" program in Florida explored municipal regulation of anchoring as an experiment.   This time, the issue started last fall with a series of hearings held by FWC.

The Florida battles about anchoring sound like a "forever war".  Think of the abortion debate after Roe v Wade, or the Israeli- Palestinian conflict as examples of forever wars.  Centuries will not be long enough to bring conclusions to those wars.  Theorists tell us that forever wars are the result of flawed processes when they were initiated.  Abortion should have been settled politically, not by the court.  Israel was created by the preposterous 1947 UN resolution, in which the UN decided to give someone's country to someone else.

The Florida boating law is at least being debated by the correct process, so I hope it will not become a forever war.

I suspect that this new law will not pass, but I also expect that the issue will come up again and again.  In the long term, the issue is not boating, it is population density.   All sorts of rules and restrictions unthinkable in low density areas, become common sense in high density areas.  Think of parking meters for example.  As we double, then redouble the population, almost all of our freedoms will have to be sacrificed.

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