County, State and Federal Authorities Take Action at Lakebay Marina


Lisa Bryan, KP News

Lakebay Marina on a rainy afternoon in mid-April with the sunken vessel Skittigate on the far right. Photo: Chris Konieczny, KP News

The Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington State Labor & Industries and Pierce County all descended on the historic facility in April after building and safety code violations, numerous boat sinkings and years of complaints by neighbors.

Unresolved electrical code violations prompted the Washington State Labor and Industries Electrical Inspection Division to shut off electricity to Lakebay Marina April 11, leaving moorage and upland tenants without power. The disruption triggered a chain reaction from multiple agencies that threatens the continued operation of the marina.

L&I issued notices of non-compliance for hazardous conditions Jan. 7 to marina owner Mark Scott, and reposted April 1, citing 44 known safety violations.

“The move to cut off power was neither sudden nor without warning,” wrote Ty Booth, senior planner for Pierce County Planning and Land Use in an April 11 email provided to KP News. “The owner was given ample time to address problems but did nothing.”

Pierce County Building officials inspected the marina, along with Code Enforcement and Health Department officials, and placed a “Restricted Use” placard at the entrance April 16 that reads “Unsafe to Occupy Do Not Enter,” citing a lack of power, water and sewage disposal. Access to the premises will require county permission that will only be granted for the removal of belongings when authorized by a permit to begin repairs.

An estimated 10 to 15 people reside on property owned by Scott, according to tenants. That number has suddenly dropped as some moorage tenants have left, such as a man with critical medical needs who has moved to a motel, according to fellow liveaboard Lucas Jackson. Since 2018, Scott has attempted to evict several other residents.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources, which leases the aquatic lands under the marina to Scott, also weighed in.“As the agency responsible for 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands and with the continued decline of forage fish, salmon and our local killer whales, I believe this situation required swift and decisive action.”

“As of April 15, 2019, DNR has placed the owner of the facility in default of his aquatic lands lease. The owner of the marina will be given 30 days to correct the serious issues that currently exist. Should the owner be unable to correct these items identified in the default letter in that period, his lease will be terminated,” according to an email from the Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who directs the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

“DNR will continue to act in partnership with other state and local entities to abate the impacts,” Franz wrote. “As the agency responsible for 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands and with the continued decline of forage fish, salmon and our local killer whales, I believe this situation required swift and decisive action.”

In the April 15 Notice of Default, obtained by KP News, the agency advises Scott he must correct all deficiencies cited by L&I and have power restored to the marina. “DNR is deeply concerned that you have been aware of, and have failed to address, these egregious unsafe conditions for at least three months.” Scott must also satisfy each of six additional defaults cited in their notice.

Scott responded to a request for comment in an email to KP News, stating “I’m currently working with L&I and DNR to resolve the problems.”

U.S. Coast Guard members boarded every vessel moored at Lakebay Marina April 17 to deliver or post a Notice of Federal Interest, informing vessel owners they have been identified as a potential responsible party for a pollution incident involving the potential or actual discharge of oil, and release of hazardous substances or materials that have occurred or may occur there. If ordered to comply, failure to remedy could result in civil penalties of up to $50,000 per day and punitive damages.

“Let me tell you, this is a scary piece of paper,” Jackson said. “The Coast Guard has the right to board any vessel on the water; they mean business.”

Jackson has been living on his wooden boat with his girlfriend and son at the marina since August 2018. He contends that residents at the marina are “good people with jobs—boat owners, not transients.”

He and his girlfriend have stable jobs in Key Center and Glen Cove. “It’s so hard to find a rental house,” he said. “We’ve really liked living close to our work and being part of the community.”

After word of the power shut-off made the rounds, people in the community including marina neighbors responded kindly, according to Jackson. “We also have a tight group living down here and people are looking out for each other and being helpful,” he said.

For the time being, gas-powered generators run through the night. Not everyone in the neighborhood appreciates the continued trouble.

“We are living among all this natural beauty, but there is this one guy who refuses to play by the rules, demonstrates an extreme lack of consideration for the fragile marine environment or the neighboring homeowners, tax-paying citizens who share Mayo Cove,” said a neighbor who spoke to KP News on condition of anonymity. “We’ve been complaining for years, doing everything they tell us to do but nothing seems to stop Mr. Scott.”

See “Code Violations May Bring Criminal Charges for Lakebay Marina Owner,” KP News, April 2019 and “Winter Moorage: Another Sinking at Lakebay Marina,” KP News, March 2019.