Chapter 12.04


12.04.010    Title of provisions.

12.04.020    Definitions.

12.04.030    Impoundment of watercraft authorization.

12.04.040    Applicability of state law to impoundments – Hearings.

12.04.050    Purpose – Liability.

12.04.060    Registration of watercraft.

12.04.070    Emergency vessels.

12.04.080    Severability.

12.04.090    Penalty for violation.

12.04.100    Citation of offending watercraft.

12.04.010 Title of provisions.

This title shall be known and may be cited as the Bellingham harbor and lakes code. [Ord. 8655 § 1(F), 1978].

12.04.020 Definitions.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this title:

“Anchorage” means any designated location where watercraft may anchor or moor.

“Chief of police” shall mean the chief of the city police department or his designated representative.

“Diver’s flag” means a red flag five units of measurement on the hoist by six units of measurement on the fly with a white stripe of one unit crossing the red diagonally with the flag having stiffness. This flag shall only pertain to skin diving, and shall supplement the nationally recognized diver’s flag and markings.

“Dock” means any dock, wharf, pier, bulkhead, dolphin, walk, landing, sea-wall, quay, float or other structure at which a watercraft may make fast or which may be utilized in the loading, unloading or handling of maritime goods, merchandise, and/or passengers.

“Harbor master” means the harbor master for the Port of Bellingham, being that person employed by the port to supervise the port operations within Bellingham Harbor regardless of the job title actually in use. As used herein it shall also include any person to whom the harbor master may delegate his authority.

“Idling” or “no-wake speed” means a very slow speed whereby the wake or wash created by a watercraft would be minimal.

“Master” means the captain, pilot, or any other person having charge of any watercraft.

“Motorboat” means any watercraft propelled in any respect by machinery, including those temporarily equipped with detachable motors.

“Navigation rules” means the International and Inland Navigation Rules promulgated by Commandant of the Coast Guard Instruction M16672.2A, also known as 72 COLREGS.

“Obstruction” means any watercraft or any matter of any description which may in any way blockade, interfere with or endanger any watercraft or impede navigation, or which cannot comply with the applicable navigation rules. Cribs or piles, shinglebolts, booms of logs, rafts of logs and rafts of lumber shall not be included within the terms “watercraft” but shall be included within the term “obstruction” when they are floating loose and not under control or when under control and obstructing any navigable channel.

“Oil” means any oleaginous liquid, whether of animal, vegetable or mineral origin, or a mixture, compound or distillation thereof.

“Permit” means the written authority of the harbor master.

“Port” means the Port of Bellingham, a port district of the state of Washington, having the legal characteristics of a municipal corporation.

“Restricted area” means an area that is closed to all traffic therein when properly marked and designated for certain purposes such as swimming, skin diving, ferry landings, aquatic and other special events. The method of markings and designation shall be in accordance with national, state and local standards and shall have been made by the chief of police or any other agency having jurisdiction.

“Skin diving” means any free swimming by a person who uses an artificial or mechanical means to replace his air, including self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, snorkel tube equipment, and free diving gear, but shall not mean swimmers using supervised public beaches designated as swimming areas.

“Watercraft” means any vessel or other contrivance used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, including an aircraft upon water. [Ord. 9515, 1985; Ord. 8655 § 1(A), 1978].

12.04.030 Impoundment of watercraft authorization.

Any person authorized to enforce the provisions of this title may, in addition to any other provision of law regarding the same, take immediate possession or impound and remove any watercraft, or obstruction, when:

A. The master of the same reasonably appears incapable of safely operating or incapable of directing the disposition of the same; or

B. The master of the same refuses to sign a citation, or refuses or neglects to obey an order of a law enforcement authority to proceed from or to an area following a citation or in an emergency; or

C. The master operates a watercraft or obstruction in a negligent, reckless or other manner so as to endanger the safety of others or to unreasonably interfere with the navigation of other watercraft, and the enforcing authority believes such operation of the watercraft or obstruction would continue unless possession be taken of the same; or

D. The watercraft or obstruction appears unsafe for transportation of persons or goods; or

E. The watercraft or obstruction appears abandoned, or is anchored or moored in an anchorage, waterway or submerged street area after expiration, cancellation or violation of a permit or in violation of this chapter; or

F. The watercraft or obstruction is delinquent in its moorage payments to any moorage operator located in the city of Bellingham, including the port of Bellingham. [Ord. 9515, 1985; Ord. 8655 § 1(B)(1), 1978].

12.04.040 Applicability of state law to impoundments – Hearings.

A. The appropriate sections of Chapter 53.08 RCW shall govern the impoundment and seizure provisions of this title, including but not limited to seizure, impoundment, storage, disposition, payment of costs, and required notices.

B. If a hearing on the impoundment of a watercraft or obstruction impounded or seized pursuant to this title, or state law, is required for any reason, and no other hearing procedure is specifically required by law, the watercraft or obstruction shall be treated as a nuisance under BMC Title 10, and the procedure for abatement thereof shall apply when not in conflict with this title or state law. [Ord. 9515, 1985; Ord. 8655 § 1(B)(2), 1978].

12.04.050 Purpose – Liability.

A. This title is enacted as an exercise of the police power of the city for the benefit of the public at large. It is not intended to create a special relationship with any individual, or individuals, nor to identify and protect any particular class of persons. The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life or limb, health or property, and public welfare, by regulating and controlling use of the city’s harbor and lakes.

B. It is not the intent of this title to impose liability upon the city for failure to perform any discretionary act. Rather, it is the intent of this chapter to place the obligation of complying with its requirements upon the user. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to relieve from or to lessen the responsibility or liability of any person or persons for injury or damage to persons or property caused by or resulting from any defect of any nature in lake or harbor facilities; nor shall the city, or any officer, agent, or employee thereof incur or be held as assuming any liability by reason or in consequence of any permission, certificate of inspection, inspection or approval authorized herein, or issued or given as herein provided, or by reasons or consequence of any things done or acts performed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. [Ord. 9515, 1985].

12.04.060 Registration of watercraft.

Laws of the state of Washington relating to watercraft, codified in RCW Title 88 and regulations adopted pursuant thereto are adopted by reference and made a part of this title. Violations of the said statutes or regulations will constitute violations of this title. [Ord. 9515, 1985].

12.04.070 Emergency vessels.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the navigation rules or of this title, watercraft shall give way to, and shall stop when hailed by, any watercraft on official business displaying a flashing blue light. [Ord. 9515, 1985].

12.04.080 Severability.

If any provision of this title or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of this title or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected. [Ord. 9515, 1985].

12.04.090 Penalty for violation.

A violation of any provision of this title, unless otherwise specified, is a misdemeanor, and is punishable as provided by Chapter 1.28 BMC. [Ord. 2013-09-073 § 21; Ord. 9515, 1985; Ord. 8655 § 1(H), 1978].

12.04.100 Citation of offending watercraft.

A. Whenever any watercraft or obstruction is found in violation of any of the provisions of this title and the owner, master or other person in charge of the watercraft or obstruction is not in the immediate vicinity, any person authorized to enforce the provisions of this title may, upon finding such watercraft, take the identification number and any other information which may identify its owner, master or other person in charge of it and shall conspicuously affix a citation to the offending watercraft.

B. Citation of a watercraft or obstruction in the manner provided in this section shall be deemed constructive service upon the owner or master thereof, as appropriate, and thereby adequate for all purposes under this code. Such citations shall be prosecuted in the same manner as violations of the motor vehicle parking provisions of this code. [Ord. 9515, 1985; Ord. 8655 § 1(G), 1978].