Surely, there are many advantages to living on a houseboat; for instance, there’s no lawn to care for, and there may be no property taxes. But a Florida resident put the issue to test and now has taken his case to the United States Supreme Court.
Fane Lozman, a Marine Corps pilot turned stockbroker decided to live on his boat at the marina at Riviera Beach in south Florida. Dockage fees were affordable for the average boater, but there was a problem: developers wanted to use the public property for private, commercial enterprises.
While politicians were trying to sell to the developers using eminent domain, Lozman was fighting every last road block thrown in his way. City officials retaliated and had his boat towed away under maritime laws.
Lozman, however, argued that his boat was indeed a floating home and not a vessel. He maintained that the city did not have jurisdiction to remove his boat. The United States Supreme Court agreed with Lozman, so score one for the average citizen.
While Lozman was winning his case, supporters back home in Riviera Beach continued the fight to keep the marina for public use only. They formed a task force and placed a question on a local election ballot to let the people vote – and they did, approving the measure.
But the other side wasn’t yet done and formed its own group to overturn the measure. The measure was overturned, which gave the power back to the developers. But Lozman’s task force members objected to the wording of the language on the ballot and took it to court.
After fighting this for the past 8 years, a judge in Florida agreed with Lozman’s suit saying that there was no way a voter would know how to vote on the issue when there was no context provided. He ordered that the city couldn’t delete the task force’s amendment.
Lozman, through the courts, is still trying to recuperate around $600,000 from the city for legal fees and the replacement of his house boat.
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