Blues Fest boaters irked by rules enforcement

Waterfront Blues Festival goes through Sunday

A sign alerts boaters at the Waterfront Blues Festival in downtown Portland about the rules and regulations, July 4, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A sign alerts boaters at the Waterfront Blues Festival in downtown Portland about the rules and regulations, July 4, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — As much as music and fireworks are part of the Waterfront Blues Festival are the boats parked in the Willamette River.

But this year, the City of Portland decided to begin enforcing time-limit rules they’ve previously ignored.

That has many boaters frustrated.

“We come down here to benefit from the concert,” boater Art Fleming told KOIN 6 News. “You’re just trying to plan it so you can get a comfortable space.”

A sign alerts boaters at the Waterfront Blues Festival in downtown Portland about the rules and regulations, July 4, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A sign alerts boaters at the Waterfront Blues Festival in downtown Portland about the rules and regulations, July 4, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The longstanding rule for the Portland Parks-owned Breakwater Dock is that boats can only stay docked for six nights per calendar month. But in past years the park rangers ignored that rule and let boats stay there for weeks at a time leading up to the blues festival.

Two weeks ago, Mark Ross with Portland Parks and Recreation told KOIN 6 News the director decided to enforce the rules this year.

While some boaters like it, others don’t and they don’t like the timing. Enforcement began after many boats were already there.

“This situation is not really for the blues festival with the six days,” said Fleming. “It’s hard to apply that.”

Ross told KOIN 6 News in an email the point is to give everyone an equal opportunity to enjoy the dock. They get complaints about the boats staying for such a long time during the festival, he said.

Enforcement, though, may not be working.

After being told to leave, many boaters appealed the ruling. That means they can stay during the 30-day appeal process.

Others simply aren’t listening and aren’t moving.

And some ask, what’s the point?

The punishment is a 30-day exclusion from the dock. If a boater appeals and leaves after the blues festival, they likely have little or no interest in docking again within the next 30 days.

“Give us taxpaying, honest, hardworking citizens that are Portland boaters a right to come to our public dock,” one unidentified woman told KOIN 6 News. “We’re paying $15 a night and we have been since June 8 and I have paid through July 5th.”

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