Owner lived year-round in houseboat moored in Flushing marina which offers only seasonal permits. In 1996 George Anton purchased a medium-sized, 1971-vintage motorboat. At the time, the boat lacked an engine and was docked at the World’s Fair Marina, located in Flushing Bay. Anton and his wife converted the motorboat into a houseboat and made it their permanent home.
The City sells only seasonal dockage permits for the World’s Fair Marina; year-round permits are unavailable. The City not only prohibits residential use, but requires boats kept at the World’s Fair Marina to be seaworthy, operational, insured, and registered. Anton never obtained a seasonal permit from the City, but, until 2007, made payments roughly in line with the cost of seasonal permits and electricity.
In 2006, the City informed Anton that his boat was in violation of the marina’s dockage regulations and that noncompliance might result in removal of the boat. In 2008, the City formally notified Anton that the dockmaster had designated his boat for removal, giving him ten days to either do so or challenge the decision administratively. Anton failed to do either.
The City sued, seeking eviction of Anton’s boat, as well as compensation for his continued use and occupancy of the marina. Anton countered that the City had unfairly singled him out and argued that the unavailability of year-long permits was unreasonable. Anton cited the fact that the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan allows docking for the full year.
Supreme Court Justice Janice A. Taylor denied the City summary judgment, and the City appealed.
The Appellate Division, Second Department reversed, ordered Anton evicted and approved the compensation. The City owned the slip and Anton was impermissibly in possession of it. The City’s marina regulations stipulate that a permit holder does not gain a recognizable property right, thereby giving the City an immediate right to possession of the slip. While other boats at the World’s Fair Marina may not be seaworthy, Anton’s was the only boat that served as a houseboat. Physical distinctions between the World’s Fair Marina and the 79th Street Boat Basin justified permitting year-round docking at one but not the other. The court awarded the City $51,013.13 for unpaid permit fees and electrical utility charges dating back to 2007.
(CIT) City of New York v. Anton, 95 N.Y.S.3d 248 (2nd Dep’t 2019).
By: Sean Scheinfeld (Sean is a CityLaw Intern and New York Law School Student, Class of 2021.)