Liveaboards weather another legal storm


The state Court of Appeals handed a second legal defeat to Gary Tripp and his Bainbridge Citizens group in their effort to remove Eagle Harbor’s liveaboards.

Read the story below.

Judge won’t kick out liveaboards
By Tristan Baurick

A state court judge on Tuesday tossed out an appeal filed by a Bainbridge property rights group suing to remove Eagle Harbor’s liveaboards.

State Court of Appeals Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall’s published opinion is the second legal setback for Bainbridge Citizens – a group recently known as Bainbridge Citizens United – and its effort to force the state to evict the estimated two dozen fulltime residents anchored or moored in the harbor’s public waters.

In 2005, Bainbridge Citizens and its director Gary Tripp sued the state Department of Natural Resources for failing to enforce its own regulations against liveaboards trespassing on the harbor’s state-owned aquatic lands.

The Kitsap County Superior Court denied Bainbridge Citizen’s suit, spurring the group to appeal to the state court.

Brintnall on Tuesday decided against the suit on technical grounds.

Because the group was arguing that DNR had not enforced state law – and not that the law was ambiguous or invalid – “a declaratory judgment is not a remedy available to them,” Brintnall wrote.

DNR attorney Christa Thompson based her legal argument on DNR’s right to enforce its rules at its own discretion.

“The position Gary Tripp took was that we’re not doing exactly what Gary Tripp wants us to do,” she said. “He wants us to immediately remove all vessels from Eagle Harbor.”

Instead, DNR has opted to wait and allow the city to craft an open water marina that would allow some liveaboards to stay but regulate their vessels and possibly charge a monthly fee.

“We think this is a local issue and we’re waiting for a decision from the city,” Thompson said.

Crafted over the last four years, the city’s open water marina plan is currently undergoing review in the City Council’s Land Use Committee.

Supporters of the plan say it will help preserve some of the island’s population diversity and affordable housing options.

Tripp vowed on Tuesday to appeal to the state Supreme Court by the end of June.

“The (appeals) court didn’t touch the main issue: that (liveaboards) are usurping public lands,” he said.

Tripp also believes liveaboards are fouling the harbor with human waste, a claim that’s been refuted by liveaboards and city water quality tests. He also asserts that liveaboard vessels make navigation difficult for water skiers and visiting boaters.

“The weekend users can’t come in, drop anchor, and visit our restaurants and shops,” he said.

2 thoughts on “Liveaboards weather another legal storm

  1. Its not surprising that a state agency would defend itself when faced with this type of legal action however DNR has been extremely patient as it waits for the City of BI to sort out how it will manage Eagle Harbor. We will hopefully see Council adopt a municipally managed marina plan sometime this summer that will enable the users of the harbor to be in compliance with the state laws that regulate the use of publicly owned aquatic lands. There will be moorage agreements, usage rules and fees that boat owners wishing to stay will be required to comply with just like any other marina. If no marina plan is adopted and implemented by BI then the outcome that BCU/Tripp has been pushing for would most likely occur as DNR would have no other choice than to enforce state regulations which would result in no long term use of the harbor (stays over 30 days).


    Due to recent release of a pertinent letter from Bainbridge Citizens, I call your attention to Bainbridge Citizens letter
    posted in its entirety on — See article
    about Tripp litigation.

    The interesting and fact-filled letter is posted by Blogger Althea Paulson ( on her Notebook blog.

    I applaud blog sites that can handle complex letters and have the blog host update stories with the inclusion of a detailed letter from the subject of the original article. After all, dialogue is the purpose of any conversation.

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