Collier judge strikes down city's Naples Bay boat speed ordinance

— A Collier County judge has struck down a Naples boating ordinance, ruling extended weekend and holiday speed zones along Naples Bay are invalid because city officials never erected "appropriate" signs after passing a 2004 law.

The order by County Judge Mike Provost, received by lawyers Monday, involved two boat captains who purposely got ticketed in April to challenge extended idling zones from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

However, the ruling doesn't mean there is no enforcement for bay boat speeders.

"This only involves the zones created by the city of Naples," City Manager Bill Moss said, adding that speeders still can be ticketed under state safety laws and manatee zones will be enforced. "Those (laws) created by the state are still in effect."

Attorney James Fox, who represented the city in the ticket cases, said he is still sorting out what the effects are of Provost's ruling.

"We are reviewing it," he said Monday.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission legal staff also is checking whether the ruling affects the city's state permit for waterway marker signs, Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson said.

"We will provide updated information about enforcement of the zones once that review is completed," Segelson said.

Arguing that the 1994 ordinance controls the time "gap" until signs are posted is contrary to law, the judge ruled. And because the 2004 city law changed portions of the earlier ordinance, he ruled it was in direct conflict so it entirely repealed the 1994 law.

City attorneys have argued that a 1994 boat speed law is valid even though City Council repealed it after adopting the 2004 law with maps that expanded idle-speed zones to add all canals and waterways flowing into Naples Bay and Gordon River, including River Park, Gordon River, Avion Park, Golden Shores, Oyster Bay, Royal Harbor, Aqualane Shores and Port Royal.

When opponents successfully challenged a state permit to erect signs to mark the 2004 expanded zones and won, city attorneys contended the 1994 law was revived.

But the judge ruled that the legal cases city attorneys were relying on weren't applicable and that the 2004 ordinance says "amendments to the speeds shall be operative upon the posting of appropriate signs" — and that never happened.

Arguing that the 1994 ordinance controls the "gap" until signs are posted is contrary to law, the judge ruled. And because the 2004 city law changed portions of the earlier ordinance, he ruled it was in direct conflict so it entirely repealed the 1994 law.

The city can appeal the ruling to a three-judge Circuit Court panel, enact a new ordinance, which would have to be approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission — or do nothing.

Capt. Mike Bailey, one of the ticketed captains, called city officials' arguments about safety concerns on the bay "a charade."

"What's going on is the wealthy people of Port Royal don't want us going back and forth in front of their houses in congested waters," Bailey said.

In December 2006, an administrative law judge struck down stricter proposed boat speed zones, ruling testimony showed safety on Naples Bay wasn't at risk and that slowing down boats could make it dangerous. Two years later, an appellate court overturned a state permit to mark those same proposed speed zones, making them ineffective.

Bailey and Capt. Jim Rinckey hired criminal defense attorney Donald Day to fight the city's ordinance and their tickets, which were dismissed.

Rinckey contended city officials don't want to follow the law.

"They think they can do whatever they want and push the little guys around," Rinckey said. "We've definitely lost time and money on our trips. People are paying us good money to take them fishing and they're losing money idling down the bay."

The tickets Bailey and Rinckey got didn't cite a city speed zone ordinance, but rather a Florida law that makes it unlawful for a boater to operate a vessel in a prohibited manner within a boating-restricted area clearly marked by regulatory signs.

After the controversy erupted, the city's lawyers wrote a memo to the city manager that said the city's speed zones can be enforced by citations involving Florida statutes, rather than city ordinances, prompting the captains' challenge.

"The city refuses to acknowledge defeat," said Day, their attorney. "This was not about saving manatees or safety. This was about 'the haves' not wanting the 'have-nots' on 'their' waterways. Well, it's not their waterway. The citizens own the waters."

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Comments » 30

Caliban writes:

Funny I just always hated the haves big boats waking me on a sunday afternoon while I was in my have-not little boat. I never realized that the people of port royal were out to get me on the bay too.

lovetofishselmon writes:

This story while understandable makes no sense. Why did a law that was adopted in 1994 just get struck down today,18 years later. Were the Naples city police asleep, were the city attorneys doing their job, what has the city manager been doing, and city council will always claim they relied on staff? Who made the decision to enforce a law that had been taken off the books in 2004 and yet allowed enforcement to continue for another 8 years? Do all the citizens that got tickets and paid fines, related to these laws get refunds? The biggest question is who is in charge and who in the city is really the adult? This seems more like a Frat house prank than big government perpetrating a hoax on the unsuspecting public. It would appear this is the beginning of a story not the conclusion?

CarpeVeritas writes:

Xanax and gin sales up sharply. Galleon Drive residents will soon start to feel better.

nanbann writes:

Sounds like the city got some bad legal advice? If you want things done right, hire top flight legal counsel and Donald Day is top flight. This case was decided on city's argument that they can do anything they want in Naples Bay because it is within Naples City limits. They forget Naples Bay is a commercial waterway owned by the state of Florida.

This case is very similar to the Marco anchoring case involving Dave Dumas a few years ago. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/j... A city manager, Bill Moss, and police chief Roger Reinke deciding they would tell boaters when and where they could anchor in state waters. In the Naples case these same folks, now empowered in Naples, tried the similar techniques in Naples Bay. They turned their hired legal guns loose on law abiding boaters and created this mess. Fortunately Donald Day was able to preserve boaters rights and again stop a power grab by over reaching public servants.

Thank you Donald Day, Mike Bailey and James Rinckey for taking a stand to restore boaters rights in Naples Bay.

joegra1111 writes:

Why does the city keep getting entrapped in legal issues surrounding Naples Bay? Is it something in the water that causes the Naples power brokers to lose the common sense and judgement? Where does the line form to obtain a refund of my fine for going too fast last July 4? Will the fines be refunded voluntarily or do you have to make application to get it back?

Here4Now writes:

I'm sure Mr. Bailey and Mr. Rinckey spent a "boatload" of dough in legal fees. I hope the next step is a lawsuit against the city to recoup some of this. BTW, thank you for fighting for all of us to keep Naples Bay for the people.

wentfishn writes:

in response to lovetofishselmon:

This story while understandable makes no sense. Why did a law that was adopted in 1994 just get struck down today,18 years later. Were the Naples city police asleep, were the city attorneys doing their job, what has the city manager been doing, and city council will always claim they relied on staff? Who made the decision to enforce a law that had been taken off the books in 2004 and yet allowed enforcement to continue for another 8 years? Do all the citizens that got tickets and paid fines, related to these laws get refunds? The biggest question is who is in charge and who in the city is really the adult? This seems more like a Frat house prank than big government perpetrating a hoax on the unsuspecting public. It would appear this is the beginning of a story not the conclusion?

I was thinking the same thing. Typicle Naples City nonsense. But they never get embarresed.

Trexler writes:

I want to know how many $100,000s the city fools have wasted on this effort?..over 20 years...

Heraclitus writes:

Ordinarily I'd suggest that the Marine Patrol just watch for boaters who run in such a manner that their wakes are a hazard to canoeists and kayakers, but I've also been adversely affected by wakes from Patrol vessels and in about 30 years I've only once seen a Marine Patrol officer cite a boater for zooming past a kayak or a canoe... in the Estero River. We gave the officer a "thumbs up".

freedomsailor writes:

in response to lovetofishselmon:

This story while understandable makes no sense. Why did a law that was adopted in 1994 just get struck down today,18 years later. Were the Naples city police asleep, were the city attorneys doing their job, what has the city manager been doing, and city council will always claim they relied on staff? Who made the decision to enforce a law that had been taken off the books in 2004 and yet allowed enforcement to continue for another 8 years? Do all the citizens that got tickets and paid fines, related to these laws get refunds? The biggest question is who is in charge and who in the city is really the adult? This seems more like a Frat house prank than big government perpetrating a hoax on the unsuspecting public. It would appear this is the beginning of a story not the conclusion?

Seems to me that judges, city council and most others employed by government have nothing to do. Sick, just Sick!

jim8349 writes:

So how do we get a refund for fines we paid in the past? Will the city automatically refund them or do we have to file a claim? Any ideas?

maxtopp writes:

Refunds, with compound interest will be handled in an orderly fashion. Call city hall to the attorney's office to arrange an appointment to pick up your refund. I wonder how many boaters were tickted by these arragont "public servants"?

Beachtowel writes:

in response to jim8349:

So how do we get a refund for fines we paid in the past? Will the city automatically refund them or do we have to file a claim? Any ideas?

Exactly!!!

John_Galt writes:

Enjoying the good old boy network Naples?

Vote them out! Incumbents must go. (Except Henning and Hiller, they're not part of it from what I can tell)

flaman writes:

You would think that the city would quit playing politics in Naples Bay. In the last decade Naples has spent hundreds if not millions of dollars creating wakes in the Bay. Remember the city dock lease cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, the mooring ball controvery, again boatloads of legal expenses, hundreds of thousands more defending the 2004 speed zone ordinance and appeal. Now, at least another $100K defending a 1994 ordinance that had apparently been removed from the city ordinance book 8 years ago. All of these matters were created by pandering politicians and lawyers at the public's expense.

There could be a pattern developing here? Who was the lawyer advising city council in all of these cases? Who was the law firm that represented the city in all of these cases? The same law firm that raked in millions in fees only to lose the cases? The same law firm that was just awarded a new three year contract by city council to keep conducting business as usual. Only in Naples do you reward failure. Maybe it is time to adopt a new strategy or at least get some sound advice? I predict a notice to appeal is already drafted and ready to file. The appeal will lead to more attorney fees and yield the same result,another defeat. It is only money so who cares? The problem,it is our money the lawyers and politicians that keep doing their best separate us from.

wentfishn writes:

in response to flaman:

You would think that the city would quit playing politics in Naples Bay. In the last decade Naples has spent hundreds if not millions of dollars creating wakes in the Bay. Remember the city dock lease cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, the mooring ball controvery, again boatloads of legal expenses, hundreds of thousands more defending the 2004 speed zone ordinance and appeal. Now, at least another $100K defending a 1994 ordinance that had apparently been removed from the city ordinance book 8 years ago. All of these matters were created by pandering politicians and lawyers at the public's expense.

There could be a pattern developing here? Who was the lawyer advising city council in all of these cases? Who was the law firm that represented the city in all of these cases? The same law firm that raked in millions in fees only to lose the cases? The same law firm that was just awarded a new three year contract by city council to keep conducting business as usual. Only in Naples do you reward failure. Maybe it is time to adopt a new strategy or at least get some sound advice? I predict a notice to appeal is already drafted and ready to file. The appeal will lead to more attorney fees and yield the same result,another defeat. It is only money so who cares? The problem,it is our money the lawyers and politicians that keep doing their best separate us from.

Its about grease, and not the movie!

angrytxpyr writes:

"This only involves the zones created by the city of Naples," City Manager Bill Moss said, adding that speeders still can be ticketed under state safety laws and manatee zones will be enforced. "Those (laws) created by the state are still in effect." Another priceless quote from the very costly City Mangler.

Yes Boss Moss as it always has been State Statute and Federally mandated slow speed zones for the protected species do and always have applied to the peoples water way.

Just like the s----- little overnight anchoring debacle you were in charge of this little speed zone thingy has been a bust for the City. How much did it cost the TAXPAYERS Boss Moss?

I wonder what Boss Moss says about the City Council and Mayor(door mat)Sorey behind their backs. I understand he tosses out some zingers especially when he is made the fool by their s----- decisions like the one to keep beating the "speed zone" issue into the ground and wasting more TAXPAYER money.

If Boss Moss weren't such a spineless little creep I would almost feel sorry for him having to take the heat for all the wasted money and all those people who were hassled with an illegal stop and search of their boat while they were simply trying to enjoy an afternoon on the water in their boat.

I can't imagine the hours upon hours all those people spent and the time the cops wasted on these illegal stops just because Boss Moss just would not listen to the court the first time. I guess the City will just appeal it now and throw more money away. Right Bill!!!

TruthTllr writes:

Do you really lose that much time driving a little slower out of the bay? If it costs commercial fishermen that much more to idle a few minutes longer, the answer is easy, move your boat closer to the Gulf so you don't have to idle. But wait, that makes sense and then they wouldn't have anything to complain about expcept bag limits. Judging from the long lines at the City Dock waiting to put their boat in, I don't think the slow drive out ot the Gulf has impacted the enjoyment of being on the water all that much. Here's an idea, go out to that little haven in Isle of Capri and start racing through there. See how fast they complain.

flaman writes:

Truthtllr is a rag boater. that much is certain!

Sergeant_O_Rourke writes:

in response to nanbann:

Sounds like the city got some bad legal advice? If you want things done right, hire top flight legal counsel and Donald Day is top flight. This case was decided on city's argument that they can do anything they want in Naples Bay because it is within Naples City limits. They forget Naples Bay is a commercial waterway owned by the state of Florida.

This case is very similar to the Marco anchoring case involving Dave Dumas a few years ago. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/j... A city manager, Bill Moss, and police chief Roger Reinke deciding they would tell boaters when and where they could anchor in state waters. In the Naples case these same folks, now empowered in Naples, tried the similar techniques in Naples Bay. They turned their hired legal guns loose on law abiding boaters and created this mess. Fortunately Donald Day was able to preserve boaters rights and again stop a power grab by over reaching public servants.

Thank you Donald Day, Mike Bailey and James Rinckey for taking a stand to restore boaters rights in Naples Bay.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Bingo!

PeopleSpeak writes:

in response to John_Galt:

Enjoying the good old boy network Naples?

Vote them out! Incumbents must go. (Except Henning and Hiller, they're not part of it from what I can tell)

This includes RAMBOSK! Vote out the thuggery!

anotherPOV writes:

in response to flaman:

You would think that the city would quit playing politics in Naples Bay. In the last decade Naples has spent hundreds if not millions of dollars creating wakes in the Bay. Remember the city dock lease cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, the mooring ball controvery, again boatloads of legal expenses, hundreds of thousands more defending the 2004 speed zone ordinance and appeal. Now, at least another $100K defending a 1994 ordinance that had apparently been removed from the city ordinance book 8 years ago. All of these matters were created by pandering politicians and lawyers at the public's expense.

There could be a pattern developing here? Who was the lawyer advising city council in all of these cases? Who was the law firm that represented the city in all of these cases? The same law firm that raked in millions in fees only to lose the cases? The same law firm that was just awarded a new three year contract by city council to keep conducting business as usual. Only in Naples do you reward failure. Maybe it is time to adopt a new strategy or at least get some sound advice? I predict a notice to appeal is already drafted and ready to file. The appeal will lead to more attorney fees and yield the same result,another defeat. It is only money so who cares? The problem,it is our money the lawyers and politicians that keep doing their best separate us from.

Republican gov't at its finest. Pander to the wealthy at the expense of every thing andeverybody. Then stick the public with the cost

BigMunch writes:

This is about them saying that the whole Bay is a no wake zone on Weekends and holidays.
That was unfair and a joke, they were ticketing everybody they could for going as slow as 15, 10, even 5 mph,
it should be the same speed for every day throughout the bay- make it 25 MPH , Nobody should be forced to crawl all that way because its a Saturday. Every day is Saturday here in Naples anyways.

NaplesNative7 writes:

I wish some Locals would stand up and run for City Council. The problem is the whole council is made up of Wealthy Northern transplants who think they can come in and take over our city. If they could, they would just "buy the Bay" and kick everyone out!

Badge676 writes:

Great job, attorney Day, as usual. Let's hear some cudos for the attorney for a change.

swampbuggy writes:

The next move by the city will be to play the environmental card. They will claim boat wakes are destroying Bauer's oyster bed plans or if that doesn't work, they will drag a manatee carcass up to the city dock.

DinNaples writes:

in response to swampbuggy:

The next move by the city will be to play the environmental card. They will claim boat wakes are destroying Bauer's oyster bed plans or if that doesn't work, they will drag a manatee carcass up to the city dock.

Right on. They seem to forget that "Citizens" also have rights.

HAP writes:

The reason is our elected city officals, mostly Barnett, who was more interested when the next happy hour was, do and did nothing. And nothing has changed.

"What's going on is the wealthy people of Port Royal don't want us going back and forth in front of their houses in congested waters," Bailey said."
Get a life bud, or don't you care about protected areas and wildlife. You should lose your license.

wentfishn writes:

in response to NaplesNative7:

I wish some Locals would stand up and run for City Council. The problem is the whole council is made up of Wealthy Northern transplants who think they can come in and take over our city. If they could, they would just "buy the Bay" and kick everyone out!

Northern Midwestern transplants I may add. Dont clump all northeners together, and Yes why dont the natives stand up and run for council?

swfl_ff writes:

in response to wentfishn:

Northern Midwestern transplants I may add. Dont clump all northeners together, and Yes why dont the natives stand up and run for council?

I agree. It would be great to see some natives and long term residents step up and run for city council. The big problem is most of the old timers have been priced out of the city and now live out in Golden Gate Estates providing they haven't given up and left town all together.

I do hope the one of these days the city will wake up and give up this ongoing foolish battle of the use of the bay. I hate to think of the millions of dollars that have been spent fighting this no win situation. Despite what the powers to be may think they do not really have any control over that bay. Waterways belong to the state.

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