Originally Posted by Alaskan Sea-Duction
mmm never realized this. Good point. So how can Seattle legally restrict a navigable water way? So long as I am not anchored in a shipping lane, I should be allowed to anchor anywhere I see fit..
While I don't know if the issue has ever come up, I suspect it might be because all of Elliot Bay and Lake Union are considered navitable. Ships waiting to load at the grain terminal on the city's waterfront anchor out in the bay, of course. But I don't know what the official position on anchoring is.
I do know that for the big Fourth of July fireworks displays on Lake Union and on Elliot Bay, hundreds of boats anchor on both those bodies of water to watch the fireworks. And there is a popular bay on Lake Washington near a park that lots of boats anchor in. There may be a time limit for this, however, enforced by the marine division of the Seattle police.
Lake Union is an interesting case. While it is within the bounds of the City of Seattle, you will not find anyone in the city's government from the mayor on down who will claim the lake is owned by Seattle.
Why? Because who ever claims ownership of the lake immediately gives them a far, far bigger problem than noise or anchoring.
I learned about this when I was on the Mayor's Committee on Seaplane Noise a number of years ago.
The moment Seattle lays official claim to the lake, which they would have to do in order to create and enforce laws governing the lake, they become responsible for the staggering amount of pollutants in the bottom of the lake. For decades, Seattle was ringed by shipyards and other maritime industries, to say nothing of the very polluting gas plant at the north end of the lake. The primary means of disposing of anything anybody didn't want-- be it paint, chemicals, creosote, PCBs, coal, you name it--- was to dump it off the dock into the lake. To the point where under the thin layer of mud above it, the bottom of the lake is a veritable storage depot of things that can cause all manner of problems.
Cleaning it up would most likely bankrupt the city. So the city simply looks the other way stays mum about who owns the lake. Rules and regulations regarding the operation of vessels and aircraft on the surface of the lake are governed by the USCG and the Seattle Police Dept. These have to do with navigation rules (USCG) and speed/intoxication while driving rules (SPD).
Which is why, when the seaplane operators eventually hammered out an agreement with the representatives of the communities surrounding the lake--- Freemont, Ballard, the Floating Homes Association, Queen Ann, etc.--- it could only be a purely voluntary agreement. It could not become a legal, enforceable set of regulations because this would require the city to officially claim ownership of the lake, which the city's attorneys were way too smart to do.