Boat dwellers in Miami Beach plan to voice complaints at commission meeting

Miami Beach boat dwellers who have been cut off from their lifeline to the city plan to show up in force today at Miami Beach City Hall for the commission meeting.

Carlos Leon, who has been living on a sailboat since 2020,  will lead boat-dwelling protestors who plan to complain about the closure of a dock off Dade Boulevard that has made it impossible to buy groceries, go to work, or do much of anything else on land. 

“It’s been really hard,” he said. “We try to carpool with the dinghies so multiple people can go out at the same time and buy what they need. It’s really not fun.” 

For decades, Miami Beach boat dwellers relied on a city-owned dock situated on Dade Boulevard as a crucial means to reach the mainland for their diverse needs. However, last month the city severed their access to the dock, which is located just across the street from a Publix.

On Dec 13., Miami Beach commissioners, responding to urgency voiced by Commissioner David Suarez, voted to permanently close the dock. This decision has had a profound impact, as dozens of people used to tether their dinghies there. 

Sea dwellers are outraged. Though the city allows docking at a nearby marina off Purdy Avenue, that platform is inadequate during low tide, and they can only be moored for 20 minutes before they risk being towed. 

“The city has been harassing us and attacking us,” says Leon, who recently started a group called the Miami Beach Boaters Association to fight the city’s actions. “It was the only port that we had for a long stay.”

Commissioner Suarez claims those who live on boats in Biscayne Bay cause many difficulties for the environment and other residents of Miami Beach.

“Their sewage goes directly into the bay, as does their pet’s waste,” he recently wrote on Instagram. “Some of their pets also harass nesting native birds on Monument Island while also leaving their feces to rot. Others anchor their dinghies, illegally to our seawall to take naps on public land.” 

Suarez did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Leon has stated that he has met with Suarez but says the commissioner has declined to work out a solution for the situation.

Milena Malaver is currently a sophomore majoring in digital journalism. She enjoys literature and writing. She plans on pursuing a career as a writer and journalist for a  newspaper or news network.