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Seattle is being forced to review its shoreline planning policies, and for a time it looked like the houseboats might have to go. But now comes word that the unique lifestyle will go on.

It's a huge relief to all of us, a huge relief. We have been hoping for that for a long time, said Melanie Markel.

Markel and her neighbors who live aboard Seattle's houseboats had been hoping the city's new shoreline master program will include the boats they call home.

In an e-mail Monday, councilmember Richard Conlin told the houseboat community that the council s goal will be to include provisions in the plan which would:

  • Continue to permit the existence and replacement of the some 480 currently licensed houseboats
  • Continue to regulate the 34 licensed house barges, who are allowed to continue in use but not be replaced by new barges
  • Continue to allow people to reside on existing vessels that meet the current law definition of vessel
  • Set new standards for the future that will create a clearer process for DPD to determine whether a future moored structure is a vessel.

People who live in house boats say they are more than floating homes, they are a way of life, and they are glad they'll be around for a long time.

Just the unique surroundings, the neighborhood is amazing down here people are - it's the most friendly neighborhood I've ever lived in - just to be able to - just to be able to drop my kayak in and go out and the lake. Roof top decks you couldn't get any better than that, said Markel.

KING 5's Jim Forman and Susan Wyatt contributed to this report.

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