Code Violations May Bring Criminal Charges for Lakebay Marina Owner


Lisa Bryan, KP News

County and state agencies address multiple issues, including alleged criminal activity.

Pierce County Code Enforcement issued a final notice to correct a series of violations at Lakebay Marina in summer of 2018. The violations included operating an unpermitted RV park and campground, illegal shellfish harvest and unpermitted signage. The marina owner, Mark Scott, appealed the case before the county examiner in September, and that appeal was denied. 

Code Enforcement then referred the matter to the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for criminal charges. The current case is specific only to the violations cited in the examiner’s October 2018 ruling against Scott’s appeal. Pierce County Prosecutor Mary Robnett has yet to file those criminal charges against the marina owner but that is no indication a criminal case won’t be pursued. 

Scott declined to comment on the pending charges.

Residents along Mayo Cove have witnessed and reported problems at Lakebay Marina. The steady stream of complaints to Pierce County increased following the sinking of several boats there over winter. (See “Winter Moorage: Another Sinking at Lakebay Marina,” KP News, March 2019.) 

“We have called every agency under the sun: the sheriff, the county, the Department of Ecology, DNR, Fish and Wildlife, the Coast Guard, the fire marshal, the health department…you name it,” a marina neighbor told KP News under the condition of anonymity. 

Neighbors continued reporting illegal liveaboards at the marina not allowed under the terms of Lakebay Marina’s aquatic lease with DNR. Neighbors document the same vehicles leaving the parking lot each morning and returning to park overnight. 

Neal Cox, South Puget Sound District Manager of state aquatic lands for DNR said, “Mr. Scott denies those accusations.” 

“What we don’t see are any of those liveaboard boats leaving to empty their sewage at a pump out station,” said a neighbor who declined to be identified. “There is a porta-potty onshore, but it hasn’t been serviced since last summer and raw human waste has accumulated to just below the toilet seat.” 

Persons living inside parked RVs, unpermitted on the Lakebay Marina uplands, have also lodged complaints against the marina management to Pierce County and DNR. 

Ty Booth, the senior planner at Planning and Land Use for Pierce County, said, “I understand that people wonder if the county is taking care of these upland concerns like abandoned junk vehicles and garbage, why isn’t the county taking care of these vessels in the water that sink?” 

The Lakebay Marina footprint includes uplands, shoreline, private tidelands and state aquatic lands, and each of those agencies has its own protocols.

“Our department doesn’t regulate vessels—we regulate land use and development,” Booth said. When Booth and Code Enforcement officer Mark Lupino receive reports, they send them to the applicable agencies. 

Pierce County Building Department officials got involved when they condemned the pier and the building in July 2015 after concerns about the restaurant structure. Officials were forced to board up the entrance multiple times, but after learning the restaurant was still open and serving the public, they finally resorted to barricades. (See “Lakebay Marina Aims for April 1 Reopening,” KP News, April 2016.) 

Scott filed substantial development plans that were conditionally approved by Pierce County in October 2016, however the complexities and costs involving multiple federal, state and county departments prevented the proposal from going forward and the conditional use permit expired. (See “Proposed Dock Expansion at Lakebay Marina Faces Local Opposition,” KP News, November 2017.)

Booth said the county and other agencies met in May 2018 to discuss concerns or potential concerns at the site. The state Department of Ecology, the Department of Health, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Surface Water Management Division and Code Enforcement were all represented “to discuss a lot of various issues that have occurred out there, including derelict vessels. At that time, we had reports of vessels being taken from the site onshore and being scuttled.” 

“The county is working to try to address situations out there. But it seems like one thing gets rectified and then something else pops up,” Booth said. 

The Lakebay Marina Facebook page reported plans for a spring reopening.