SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Poo Journal Wanted!

By Marie Zellmer


May 17, 2016
Tuesday AM

Things have gone too far down at the docks. New Ketchikan City ordinances are about to be enacted and enforced, and no one knows about them or what they really mean to people who have chosen to live on the water. Don't get me wrong, many of the harbormasters I have worked next to, gone to school with, and built sets for plays with, and I have considered them friends, but when they go to work my home is there. The harbormasters have convinced the council to enact rules such as... anyone who stays on their vessel for 15 days is a live-aboard and must have a coast guard approves toilet installed with a storage tank, and keep daily logs as to how much it is being used and how often it is being pumped out at one of the only three pump stations on the island. This will also affect the fishing industry if the wording is followed.

Another ordinance says if live-aboards have dogs that poop on the dock or run around "at large" then the vessel can be kicked out of all city harbors. Although it doesn't say for how long and doesn't provide any warning system about the dogs, or take into account that there will have to be proof as to whose dog pooped, or that we have highly paid animal protection officers responsible for those kinds of things, with a fee system in place.

Also, all live-aboard boats must be operated from a helm that the vessel was originally designed to have... no matter how much remodeling and alterations it has gone through over the years. I have owned a twenty foot, forty year old vessel that went from power boat to hand troller, to half sunk derelict, to remodeled houseboat, and there is no way to put the "originally designed" helm back in. It goes on... there's even more.

How about the new part that says only registered owners can live on them, so no one in a house can use them as extra bedrooms for visitors, or have someone watch their vessel while they leave town, or even allow a rent-to-own your own boat situation. I understand the need to make sure moorage is paid and I have seen the situations where renters on boats fail and the boats get impounded, but there are ordinances in place and an owner can have their boat worth thousands of dollars impounded after just one month of not paying a few hundred bucks in moorage. Isn't that punishment enough?

It gets even better... the harbormaster has told people the only kind of model and make of toilet that will be "acceptable" to them, as well as the right to enter people's homes to be sure that they are complying, along with the monthly poo journal inspection - all which will be enforced starting the first of June.

Yes, this June in two weeks. Not enough time to even see if some small boats that people live on can even fit a toilet in where none existed, or even afford the sudden estimated $800 price tag on the system the harbormaster has chosen. Plus they get to come into my home and invade my privacy, over poo.

There are a lot more changes about to be made and no one knows except those live aboards who received letters saying they had plenty of time to make the changes to ordinces that won't be enacted till the 26th of this month, and a call telling them time is up on the first of next month... talk about confusing.

There is no nice way for me to say this... I'm tired of being bullied by glorified pool boys who want to see what is going on in the cabana. I pay my moorage and live-aboard fees, I comply to all the written and unwritten rules that the harbomasters come up with, even the stupid minimum size engine, and I help my neighbors and friends pass those same stupid unwritten rules. But I draw the line at inspections and poo journals.

Please come to this week's city council meeting and find out what's going on!

Marie Zellmer
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received May 15, 2016 - Published May 17, 2016

Editor's Note:

The Ketchikan City Council will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, May 19th in the City Council Chambers. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM. To download the agenda and detailed information packets, click here.


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2016
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.