Punta Gorda to prohibit year-round liveaboards at Laishley Marina, making residents move

Reporter: Gail Levy
Published: Updated:
Laishley Marina in Punta Gorda will no longer allow liveaboards year-round. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Six years ago David and Kris Nichols gave up their 3,400 square-foot home in Colorado, bought a boat and sailed into a slip at the Laishley Marina in Punta Gorda.

It became their home until now.

“Everything is so good, I wonder what bad could possibly happen,” David Nichols said.

The couple and more than a dozen others have been told they can no longer live on their boats at the Laishley Marina. The Nichols are residents of the City of Punta Gorda. It’s where they vote and where they receive their mail.

The city is now enforcing what’s called a “submerged land lease” from the state. The deal is that liveaboards can only live aboard for six months in a single year, not the entire year. The city has not said when the vessels will have to leave, but if the city doesn’t comply the state could shut down the entire marina.

So people like Jeff Pitt have to change course.

“They’re trying to evict us, of course, due to their land lease with the state that the city was not following for the last 14 years,” Pitt said.

The state called out Punta Gorda when it renegotiated its deal this month which is why the city is now enforcing the 6-month rule.

Pitt doesn’t want to move. In fact, he is looking to purchase a bigger boat for his wife and 11-year-old son.

“We’re gonna stay there until my son graduates and then plan on cruising you know the Bahamas. We want the boat life, but we want to keep stability for my son,” Pitt said.

The people who are being forced to leave the marina say they feel like they’re homeless, but Punta Gorda councilmember Melisa Lockhart doesn’t quite see it that way.

“Homelessness to me is somebody that doesn’t have shelter over their head. They have boats, they can move, they can go do another marina,” Lockhart said.

The only problem is that no other marina locally has slips available and won’t for some time.

Mooring out in the harbor takes away the ability to have power.

“You don’t have power and you may have noticed it gets hot in the summer, if you can’t run air-conditioning, it’s not livable,” Dave Nichols said.

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