Port of Poulsbo wants public input on profit from boathouses

Richard Oxley, January 8, 2015, North Kitsap Herald

Port of Poulsbo commissioners have long wrestled with issues surrounding the sales of boathouses at its marina.


On Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. in the council chambers in Poulsbo City Hall, the port will meet with its constituents to discuss the issue at length.


The port operates a marina on the Poulsbo waterfront. It offers permanent moorage as well as transient moorage for traveling boaters. A portion of the dock space is allotted for boathouses, which are privately owned. The port rents moorage space to the boathouses.


When boathouses sell, they go for prices that are generally higher than boathouses found at other area marinas. This poses a problem for the port.


If the location of the boathouses, or the fact they are at the port, is a factor in high prices, then it is possible that the value is illegal. Private profit cannot be gained from publicly owned assets. The port is a public agency, and the waterfront land is a publicly owned asset. Therefore, the private sale of a structure, that is using the public land, cannot benefit from the publicly owned aspect of the sale.


Commissioners have stated that the boathouse values are inflated well beyond the value of the structure and moorage space, according to a Jan. 6 press release from Brad Miller, executive director of the port. Conversation has been exchanged at commission meetings over whether the port should retain a portion of the sales.


“At the center of the issue is the debate on how to establish the value of the boathouse structure versus the right to have it moored in a public space,” Miller said in a press release. “Historically, whenever a boathouse was sold, the owner would retain 100 percent of the sale price, and the new tenant would sign a lease with the marina.”


Over the years, boathouse sales have been on the rise, bringing the issue of value of, and profit from, public assets closer to the surface.


The port commission and boathouse owners have gone back and forth on the issue over the past two months.


“No one is in a hurry to make a final decision yet,” Miller said. “The board really is carefully considering all ideas. The only people they haven’t heard from yet are the citizens that live in the port district.”

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