Open Water Marina

The City of Bainbridge Island in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources established an Open Water Mooring and Anchoring Area (OWMAA) in Eagle Harbor on December 20, 2010.

By Washington state statute, the City of Bainbridge Island has jurisdiction over all of the waters of Puget Sound surrounding the island to a distance halfway to the land on the other side (RCW 35.21.160). Authorized use of state-owned aquatic lands is mandated by RCW 79.100 and WAC 332.30 governs how to receive authorization for that use.

The middle harbor zone of Eagle Harbor had been historically used for moorage and anchorage of recreational and commercial vessels, including live-aboard vessels. The vessels were subject to numerous City regulations, including specific regulations regarding moorage and anchorage and anchor-out live-aboard vessels. However, specific anchorage locations had not been established.

Moorage & Anchorage Area
In 1999, the City Council directed the Harbor Commission to designate an open water moorage and anchorage area in Eagle Harbor for recreational vessels and citizens who wish to live aboard their vessels. Vessels anchored or moored over public bedlands are also subject to Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requirements.

At this time, the City is accepting applications for one-year subleases to begin on January 1, 2015 and expire on December 31, 2015.  Spaces are currently available for both the linear moorage system and fore-and-aft moorage. To apply for an OWM sublease with the City, potential tenants must submit an application form. This application must be completed in its entirety, and must be received by the City no later than 4:00pm, November 14th, 2014.
Nov. 1, 2002 DNR promulgated a new rule in WAC 332-30 to allow residential uses on state owned aquatic lands. This rule, known as the “Residential Use Rule,” defines “open water moorage and anchorage areas” and requires the City of Bainbridge Island to identify open water moorage area(s) for residential use in its Shoreline Master Program (SMP) before November 17, 2007. Complying with the Residential Use Rule is the only mechanism that allows the City of Bainbridge Island to establish an open water moorage and anchorage area that includes live-aboard vessels on state-owned aquatic lands. 
Oct. 10, 2007 The city council approved Ordinance 2007-16 to amend the SMP to add a definition for an open water moorage and anchoring area and allow one such area in the middle harbor zone of Eagle Harbor. The proposed amendment was submitted to Department of Ecology (DOE) for state approval. DOE approved the amendment on November 19, 2009.
April 2008 - October 2009 The Land Use Committee (LUC) of the city council worked with staff and the Harbor Commission to develop a plan for the open water marina, including the development of options for how many vessels can be accommodated. The LUC identified several options, including: the no action option, which would allow no residential use in open water; an option which would allow minimal residential use; and an option which would allow a maximum residential use. DNR participated in these discussions and agreed that these options were consistent with DNR regulations. The LUC also discussed an option that would have considered anchored transient vessels in establishing the marina size, which potentially could have resulted in moderate residential use and lower infrastructure costs (Option 4).
November 2008
City representatives and DNR representatives discussed the open water moorage issues. At that meeting, and in a follow-up letter, DNR stated that their regulations would not allow transient anchorage moorage that was not secured to any fixed points to be counted toward the maximum number of residential slips within the OWMAA.
March 11, 2009
The City Council directed the City Attorney to submit the city’s written interpretation to DNR for reconsideration (see Attachment A – letter from Paul McMurray to DNR dated April 7, 2009).
September 15, 2009
DNR representatives asked to meet with City staff to bring resolution to the matter. DNR reaffirmed that they would not allow transient moorage that was not secured to any fixed points to be counted toward the maximum number of residential slips within the OWMAA (see Attachment B – response from DNR dated Oct. 2, 2009). A complete lease application for Eagle Harbor (reflecting Council’s decision regarding the Open Water Marina) was due to DNR by December 31, 2009.
October 2009
The City Council approved a plan for the OWMAA to allow four residential vessels and 12 transient vessels.
March 2010 New opportunities were presented in the form of a $40,000 funding appropriation from the state to install up to 20 buoys in the OWMAA. These funds significantly reduced the cost for the city in establishing the OWMAA. 
September 2010
The City Council reviewed cost estimates for four different scenarios, each based on the SMP requirement that 75% of the moorage be dedicated for transient use and a maximum 25% for residential use. Council members expressed concern with the cost of installing the 75% transient moorage and did not recommend approval of any of the scenarios
November 12, 2010
DNR notified owners of unauthorized vessels that they were in trespass and had until Dec. 15, 2010 to find legal moorage or vacate the harbor.
December 1, 2010
City received a letter from DNR reiterating commitment to enter into lease agreement allowing long-term residents to remain on their boats.
December 3, 2010
City responded to DNR regarding concern about limitations on the percentage of residential use in the OWMAA and requesting support for options to resolve issues, including the City’s development and submittal of a Shoreline Substantial Development Conditional Use Permit (SSDCUP), which would amend the City’s SMP to allow for up to 100% residential use of the proposed OWMAA. 
December 8, 2010 DNR responded to the City confirming support of a SSDCUP and willingness to immediately enter into a lease, with the SSDCUP as a condition to the lease, thus postponing the distribution of any further trespass notifications. The lease needed to be signed by Dec. 22, 2010 and the City must then immediately apply for necessary shoreline permits and diligently pursue issuance.
December 20, 2010 The City and DNR entered into lease agreement for Eagle Harbor OWMAA. The lease allows for:
  • City dock
  • Kayak concessionaire
  • Linear moorage
  • Open water anchoring and mooring
  • Transient boater landing