Permit costs for operating privately owned houseboats on a pair of north state lakes are going up for the first time in about 12 years.
The U.S. Forest Service is increasing the cost of a houseboat use permit for Lake Shasta from $248 to $450 - an 81 percent increase - and for Trinity Lake from $173 to $315 - an 82 percent increase.
Kristy Cottini, district ranger for the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, sent a letter this month to permit holders on the lakes informing them of the higher fees, which take effect Jan. 1.
A public meeting about the fee increases held Saturday in Redding attracted about 50 houseboat owners, many of whom are none too pleased.
"It's ridiculous," said Ted Hoyt, 67, of Redding, who has had a houseboat for about 23 years and is questioning the justification of the fee increases as the economy continues to struggle.
Hoyt also says that owning a houseboat can already be an expensive proposition.
In addition to the use fee, Hoyt said he also has to pay a steep monthly moorage fee, property taxes on his 52-foot houseboat, not to mention $5 a gallon for gas to run it.
And the higher fee won't help matters much, he said.
Still, he said, there's not too much he can do about it, saying he enjoys boating on Lake Shasta and will undoubtedly have to continue to tighten his financial belt so he can keep doing so.
Cottini, who described Lake Shasta and Trinity Lake as two of the premier houseboating lakes in the world, said Saturday the increases are based on new appraisals for the market value of authorized use - the right to float a houseboat on the lakes.
The Forest Service has 624 houseboats permitted on Lake Shasta, and 99 on Trinity Lake.
Lance Dore, vice president of San Diego-based PGP Valuation Inc., which conducted the appraisals, said they show the value on Lake Shasta is $9,000 and the value on Trinity Lake is $6,300. The new fees are 5 percent of the appraised values and follow a Forest Service policy about such permits.
Read more at http://www.redding.com/news/2010/oct/24/houseboat-fees-to-jump-by-80-percent/
PHOTO BY GREG BARNETTE