Item Coversheet

City of Miami Beach, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33139,

 Item 21.

TO: Land Use and Sustainability Committee

FROM: Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager

DATE: February 18, 2020


Discuss the item and provide a recommendation to the full City Commission if applicable.

Discuss and conclude the item, as well as provide a recommendation to the City Commission if applicable.


On September 11, 2019, the City Commission referred the discussion item to the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee (Item R9X). The City Commission also referred the item to the Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority and requested that the City Attorney draft a legal memorandum/LTC as to the City’s jurisdiction.

The November and December 2019 SRC meetings were cancelled, and the item was placed on the January 21, 2020 agenda of the newly created Land Use and Sustainability Committee. On January 21, 2020 the item was deferred to the February 18, 2020 LUSC meeting.


City staff reviewed the City Code and identified definitions, as well as requirements for single family districts that are relevant to this discussion (Attachment A). Based on the definitions in the City Code, staff determined that a luxury vessel such as Arkup is not considered a housebarge, but does qualify as a motorboat, a pleasure vessel and a watercraft. As such, provisions of the City Code pertaining to these would apply.

The Land Development Regulations of the City Code do not provide any type of use or operating restrictions for live aboard vessels, including houseboats. In single-family districts, vessels are not permitted as a main permitted use on a property. A homeowner may have an accessory dock with such a vessel, but the entire property, including the dock must be rented together for no less than six (6) months and a day. The owner of such a vessel could not rent a dock from a homeowner, without also renting the entire property, and for the minimum timeframe. As it pertains to other zoning districts, such a vessel would be allowed to potentially dock in a zoning district that allows a marina, such as the MR (Marine Recreation District). It should be noted that any amendments to the LDR’s in this regard would need to comply with applicable State law.

Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority Summary
The Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority held a discussion at their November 12, 2019 meeting regarding Arkup Luxury Houseboats. The conversation touched on whether there is a distinction between houseboats and yachts, and shifted toward general concern with boats and mega yachts that are anchoring throughout the city’s waterways. Additional comments included a reference to the city’s ban of houseboats within Indian Creek in the 1980s and a brief discussion of environmental considerations associated with vessel use. No motions or resolutions were made as a result of the discussion.

City Attorney Legal Analysis

Pursuant to Florida law, the City of Miami Beach (the “City”) has the legal authority to regulate the anchoring and mooring of certain vessels and entities within its territorial jurisdiction. To that effect, Section 327.60 of the Florida Statutes specifically provides, in pertinent part:

“This section does not prohibit local governmental authorities from the enactment or enforcement of regulations that prohibit or restrict the mooring or anchoring of floating structures, live-aboard vessels, or commercial vessels, excluding commercial fishing vessels, within their jurisdictions or of any vessels within the marked boundaries of mooring fields permitted as provided in s. 327.40.”
Fla. Stat. §327.60(3)

Therefore, pursuant to the above-provision set forth in §327.60(3), the City may restrict, or completely prohibit, the mooring or anchoring of any floating structures or live-aboard vessels within the City’s jurisdiction. To the extent that any Arkup Solar-Electric Livable Yacht (“Arkup Livable Yacht”) is deemed to be a floating structure or live-aboard vessel, then such Arkup Livable Yacht would be subject to any duly-enacted City Ordinance regulating the anchoring or mooring of such entities or vessels.

In determining whether an Arkup Livable Yacht shall be considered a floating structure or live-aboard vessel, Section 327.02 of the Florida Statutes provides guidance by supplying definitions for the terms “Floating Structure” and “Live-Aboard Vessel,” as follows:

“Floating structure” means a floating entity, with or without accommodations built thereon, which is not primarily used as a means of transportation on water but which serves purposes or provides services typically associated with a structure or other improvement to real property. The term includes, but is not limited to, an entity used as a residence, place of business or office with public access; a hotel or motel; a restaurant or lounge; a clubhouse; a meeting facility; a storage or parking facility; or a mining platform, dredge, dragline, or similar facility or entity represented as such. Floating structures are expressly excluded from the definition of the term “vessel” provided in this section. Incidental movement upon water or resting partially or entirely on the bottom does not, in and of itself, preclude an entity from classification as a floating structure.
Fla. Stat. §327.02(14)

“Live-aboard vessel” means:

(a) A vessel used solely as a residence and not for navigation;
(b) A vessel for which a declaration of domicile has been filed pursuant to s. 222.17; or
(c) A vessel used as a residence that does not have an effective means of propulsion for safe navigation.
A commercial fishing vessel is expressly excluded from the term “live-aboard vessel.”
Fla. Stat. §327.02(22)

However, in order to ascertain the appropriate classification for an Arkup Livable Yacht, a comprehensive evaluation (which must necessarily encompass and include a complete factual determination of those identifying characteristics surrounding the Arkup Livable Yacht in question) must be undertaken. Accordingly, to the extent that Arkup Livable Yacht(s) are deemed to be floating structures or live-aboard vessels, based upon objective, factual criteria, the City may regulate the anchoring or mooring of such entities or vessels within its jurisdiction if the Mayor and City Commission determine the exercise of such power is reasonably calculated to advance the City’s valid public, navigational, and/or environmental health, safety, and welfare interests.

Environmental Considerations

The potential environmental considerations for Arkup Luxury Houseboats are consistent with those of other vessels. One consideration is potential damage to seagrass from anchoring, contact with the vessel, or shading. However, vessel design, such as the use of spuds or mooring instead of anchoring, as well as operational adjustment that limit the time spent at one location can assist in minimizing potential impacts to seagrass. Another consideration is potential water quality degradation from improper waste disposal. This concern can be addressed by ensuring a vessel has proper access to pump out and trash facilities.

Applicable Area

Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
Yes No 


Attachment A - Planning RegulationsMemo