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53.08.310  <<  53.08.320 >>   53.08.330

RCW 53.08.320

Moorage facilities — Rules authorized — Port charges, delinquency — Abandoned vessels, public sale.

A moorage facility operator may adopt all rules necessary for rental and use of moorage facilities and for the expeditious collection of port charges. The rules may also establish procedures for the enforcement of these rules by port district, city, county, metropolitan park district or town personnel. The rules shall include the following:

     (1) Procedures authorizing moorage facility personnel to take reasonable measures, including the use of chains, ropes, and locks, or removal from the water, to secure vessels within the moorage facility so that the vessels are in the possession and control of the moorage facility operator and cannot be removed from the moorage facility. These procedures may be used if an owner mooring or storing a vessel at the moorage facility fails, after being notified that charges are owing and of the owner's right to commence legal proceedings to contest that such charges are owing, to pay the port charges owed or to commence legal proceedings. Notification shall be by registered mail to the owner at his or her last known address. In the case of a transient vessel, or where no address was furnished by the owner, the moorage facility operator need not give such notice prior to securing the vessel. At the time of securing the vessel, an authorized moorage facility employee shall attach to the vessel a readily visible notice. The notice shall be of a reasonable size and shall contain the following information:

     (a) The date and time the notice was attached;

     (b) A statement that if the account is not paid in full within ninety days from the time the notice is attached, the vessel may be sold at public auction to satisfy the port charges; and

     (c) The address and telephone number where additional information may be obtained concerning release of the vessel.

     After a vessel is secured, the operator shall make a reasonable effort to notify the owner by registered mail in order to give the owner the information contained in the notice.

     (2) Procedures authorizing moorage facility personnel at their discretion to move moored vessels ashore for storage within properties under the operator's control or for storage with private persons under their control as bailees of the moorage facility, if the vessel is, in the opinion of port personnel a nuisance, if the vessel is in danger of sinking or creating other damage, or is owing port charges. Costs of any such procedure shall be paid by the vessel's owner. If the owner is not known, or unable to reimburse the moorage facility operator for the costs of these procedures, the mooring facility operators may seek reimbursement of ninety percent of all reasonable and auditable costs from the derelict vessel removal account established in RCW 79.100.100.

     (3) If a vessel is secured under subsection (1) of this section or moved ashore under subsection (2) of this section, the owner who is obligated to the moorage facility operator for port charges may regain possession of the vessel by:

     (a) Making arrangements satisfactory with the moorage facility operator for the immediate removal of the vessel from the moorage facility or for authorized moorage; and

     (b) Making payment to the moorage facility operator of all port charges, or by posting with the moorage facility operator a sufficient cash bond or other acceptable security, to be held in trust by the moorage facility operator pending written agreement of the parties with respect to payment by the vessel owner of the amount owing, or pending resolution of the matter of the charges in a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction. After entry of judgment, including any appeals, in a court of competent jurisdiction, or after the parties reach agreement with respect to payment, the trust shall terminate and the moorage facility operator shall receive so much of the bond or other security as is agreed, or as is necessary to satisfy any judgment, costs, and interest as may be awarded to the moorage facility operator. The balance shall be refunded immediately to the owner at his or her last known address.

     (4) If a vessel has been secured by the moorage facility operator under subsection (1) of this section and is not released to the owner under the bonding provisions of this section within ninety days after notifying or attempting to notify the owner under subsection (1) of this section, the vessel shall be conclusively presumed to have been abandoned by the owner.

     (5) If a vessel moored or stored at a moorage facility is abandoned, the moorage facility operator may, by resolution of its legislative authority, authorize the public sale of the vessel by authorized personnel to the highest and best bidder for cash as prescribed by this subsection (5). Either a minimum bid may be established or a letter of credit may be required, or both, to discourage the future reabandonment of the vessel.

     (a) Before the vessel is sold, the owner of the vessel shall be given at least twenty days' notice of the sale in the manner set forth in subsection (1) of this section if the name and address of the owner is known. The notice shall contain the time and place of the sale, a reasonable description of the vessel to be sold, and the amount of port charges owed with respect to the vessel. The notice of sale shall be published at least once, more than ten but not more than twenty days before the sale, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the moorage facility is located. Such notice shall include the name of the vessel, if any, the last known owner and address, and a reasonable description of the vessel to be sold. The moorage facility operator may bid all or part of its port charges at the sale and may become a purchaser at the sale.

     (b) Before the vessel is sold, any person seeking to redeem an impounded vessel under this section may commence a lawsuit in the superior court for the county in which the vessel was impounded to contest the validity of the impoundment or the amount of the port charges owing. Such lawsuit must be commenced within ten days of the date the notification was provided pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, or the right to a hearing shall be deemed waived and the owner shall be liable for any port charges owing the moorage facility operator. In the event of litigation, the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

     (c) The proceeds of a sale under this section shall first be applied to the payment of port charges. The balance, if any, shall be paid to the owner. If the owner cannot in the exercise of due diligence be located by the moorage facility operator within one year of the date of the sale, the excess funds from the sale shall revert to the derelict vessel removal account established in RCW 79.100.100. If the sale is for a sum less than the applicable port charges, the moorage facility operator is entitled to assert a claim for a deficiency.

     (d) In the event no one purchases the vessel at a sale, or a vessel is not removed from the premises or other arrangements are not made within ten days of sale, title to the vessel will revert to the moorage facility operator.

     (6) The rules authorized under this section shall be enforceable only if the moorage facility has had its tariff containing such rules conspicuously posted at its moorage facility at all times.

[2011 c 247 § 3; 2002 c 286 § 23; 1986 c 260 § 2; 1985 c 7 § 124; 1983 c 188 § 2.]

Notes:

     Severability -- Effective date -- 2002 c 286: See RCW 79.100.900 and 79.100.901.

     Severability -- Construction -- Savings -- 1983 c 188: See notes following RCW 53.08.310.