Nobody has a right to free rent, whether on land or water. Which makes Tampa’s decision to post eviction notices on 80 illegally moored boats in the Davis Islands Seaplane Basin understandable, even if some occupants must now find other living arrangements.
From a practical standpoint, 35 of the boats must be moved to clear the airport’s seaplane corridor. The rest need to be moved so the city can create a mooring field where boats can legally stay.
As the Tribune’s Kevin Wiatrowski reported, some of the boats are derelict, bobbing unattended in the basin. One has sunk, and another is taking on water.
According to the Tampa police department, the boats are illegally moored in the basin. Boaters can drop anchor almost anywhere. But many of these boats were illegally tied to concrete blocks or other heavy objects to keep them in place indefinitely. It is tantamount to 80 tents being pitched in a public park in the city, and the occupants turning them into permanent homes, or leaving them abandoned for the city to clean up.
A legal mooring field will prevent the proliferation of boats that accumulated in the Davis Islands basin over the years. A legal field in St. Petersburg charges for overnight stays and limits stays to three months. Tampa is considering a similar arrangement.
The notices given boat owners provide 30 days for them to move the vessels, and the city has indicated it might extend the time for owners who are showing good faith. The hope is to get the basin clear by early next year to begin work on a legal mooring field, which is needed for the boating community.
The evictions are necessary to ensure that a marine resource that all boaters should be able to enjoy isn’t confiscated by squatters and irresponsible owners who view the basin as a dumping ground.