Lakebay Marina owner Mark Scott faces a variety of legal challenges as he attempts to bring his property and business into compliance with state and county laws.
On June 7, Scott pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false swearing in Pierce County District Court. In the courtroom, Scott admitted to lying in sworn testimony about the nature of his relationship with one of his tenants in order to obtain a so-called “kick-out” order against the respondent in an effort to evict the tenant. The plea deal resulted in a one-year deferred sentence for Scott, who will be required to perform 24 hours of community service and pay various fines.
As a condition of his deferred sentence, Scott must maintain law-abiding behavior and was ordered not to engage in any hostile contact with law enforcement.
The continued presence of tenants at Lakebay Marina, both on boats and in RVs situated on the uplands adjacent to the marina, have presented a number of legal concerns for Scott.
One of those tenants, not involved in the misdemeanor Scott pleaded guilty to, obtained a civil antiharassment protection order against him for the period of one year. The protection order not only prevents Scott from being within 25 feet of the tenant, but restricts him from being within 500 feet of 15 Lorenz Road NW, Lakebay, effectively barring Scott from setting foot on property he owns.
Scott, who attempted and failed to evict that same tenant on at least two prior occasions, succeeded in obtaining an order for eviction June 18 in Pierce County District Court. The tenant has until July 1 to move or be removed from the marina property.
The marina remains without power since Washington State Labor & Industries Electrical Compliance Division shut off all electrical service April 11 because of longstanding unresolved electrical code violations.
The Department of Natural Resources issued a notice of default under the lease agreement between DNR and Lakebay Marina April 15, giving Scott until no later than May 18 to bring the marina into compliance with a lease that essentially allows the marina to exist. (See “County, State and Federal Authorities Take Action at Lakebay Marina,” May 2019, KP News).
In a letter to Scott dated May 24, DNR determined six of seven previously outlined defaults failed to be cured by the owner. Pursuant to the lease, each of these defaults has risen to the level of an “Event of Default,” which gives DNR the right to terminate the lease immediately.
The DNR acknowledged that Scott made some effort with minimal results. Therefore, DNR provided Scott with an additional grace period, extending the deadline for compliance to June 10.
In an email to DNR, Scott alerted the department to the existence of the antiharassment order that forced him off his own property and said he was unable to do anything further until the tenant no longer resided there. Scott indicated that he had satisfied some of the requirements but also wrote, “The electrical is eight weeks out and costs over $100,000. Not sure what to do. Do you offer grants or help on this?”
Like DNR, officials from Pierce County Building Division, the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, and code enforcement reacted promptly to the power being been shut off. Without power, there is no water or sewage disposal. On April 16, Pierce County building officials posted a “Do Not Enter” notice, restricting all access to the marina cafe and store.
In a letter dated May 10, Pierce County Building Official Jeffrey Rowe outlined the issues to be addressed before full access is allowed to the building. Some of the work requires demolition permits to remove all the improperly installed heating appliances. Building repairs will require building permits and structural evaluation by an engineer. The county also requires removal of the stage area and bar from the first floor, noting that neither of these uses are considered vested and must be removed.
Several buildings on the uplands have been condemned.
“We need a plan of what you intend to do, either repair or remove,” Rowe wrote. “Repair will take a permit to remodel. Removal will take a demolition permit. Failure to act will result in our acting to remove them and you will be given notification of those actions.”
Jeffrey Ault, electrical inspector and compliance supervisor at Labor & Industries, said he has had several meetings and many telephone discussions with Scott, in addition to the owner of South Sound Electric, the contractor who has obtained an electrical work permit to complete the necessary repairs to make the marina code-compliant. Michael Prentice, engineer with Peninsula Light Co., has been involved in the utility’s design requirements.
The operation of Lakebay Marina must meet or exceed all local, state and federal minimum requirements related to safety standards. As of press time, DNR informed KP News of its intention to inspect the site before determining the next course of action.
LAKEBAY MARINA TIMELINE October 2012: Mark and Cindy Scott purchase Lakebay Marina. April 2013: Open for business. April 2014: The Scotts hold a well-attended pancake breakfast to raise funds for renovations. December 2014: Renovations continue. July 2015: Pierce County Planning and Land Services shuts down the marina and cafe due to the continuing unsafe condition of the pier, new unpermitted docks, and illegal liveaboard marina tenants. August 2015: Pierce County barricades the marina pier to keep the public out after discovering the cafe is still operating illegally. February 2016: Pierce County again barricades the marina pier after learning members of the public are accessing the cafe and docks. With the assistance of the Pierce County Council and Public Works, permits are expedited for renovation work to continue. May 2016: The marina cafe reopens for business. October 2017: Scott proposes to expand the marina, add a pump-out station and build a 300-unit RV park nearby. Neighbors oppose the expansion. December 2017: Scott announces the permanent closing of Lakebay Marina. Summer 2018: The business of the marina and cafe having continued, Pierce County Code Enforcement issues a final notice to correct a series of violations, including operating an unpermitted RV park and campground, illegal shellfish harvesting and unpermitted signage. Scott appeals the case before the county examiner in September and that appeal is denied. Criminal charges are referred to the Pierce County Prosecutor. January 2019: Washington State Labor & Industries issues notices of non-compliance for hazardous conditions to Scott, citing 44 known safety violations. February 2019: Lakebay Marina is placed on the Pierce County Register of Historic Places. March 2019: Four boats in permanent moorage are found to have sunk in their slips over the winter of 2019. Others are found cast adrift. April 2019: Unresolved electrical code violations prompt the L & I Electrical Inspection Division to shut off electricity to the marina, leaving moorage and upland tenants without power. The Department of Natural Resources puts Scott on notice that he is in default of his lease and at risk of losing the marina.