Fane Lozman's Houseboat Case Going to The U.S. Supreme Court

One word describes Fane Lozman perfectly: Pugnacious. Today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the ex-U.S. Marine pilot's appeal that the City of Riviera Beach unlawfully removed his "floating home." Last year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Lozman's complaint, in which he argued his "floating home" is not a house boat because it does not meet the federal maritime law definition of a "vessel."

But Lozman -- whose junkyard dog-style of political activism has been chronicled extensively in Miami New Times and our sister publication in Broward -- hired noted Stanford University law professor Jeffrey Fisher to take his appeal to the highest court in the land. "Winners never quit and quitters never win," Lozman says. "I'm grateful U.S. Supreme Court decided this case is important to consider."

Since his "floating home" was destroyed three years ago, Lozman bought a bigger one and returned to North Bay Village, where he helped city residents expose former Mayor Corina Esquijarosa, who resigned amid scandal this past November. Lozman says there are several differences between a "floating home" and a houseboat. For instance, he notes, he paid property taxes on his sea-based abode while the owner of a house boat doesn't have to. 

We first chronicled the 50-year-old software developer's exploits in 2002, when his efforts to get a wheel chair ramp installed at a North Bay Village marina turned into an epic take down of a city commissioner. From his two-story "floating home," Lozman -- a self-made millionaire -- went on to wreck the careers of three more North Bay Village politicians and a police chief.

After Hurricane Wilma destroyed the city's house boat marina, Lozman sailed to Riveira Beach in Palm Beach County, where his firebrand style of political activism torched that city's elected leaders. After successfully suing the city in 2006 to stop the marina's $2.4 billion redevelopment and evicting him and other tenants, Lozman refused to sign a new dockage agreement with Riveira Beach, which led to the towing of his "floating home."

Lozman believes the city violated his first amendment rights when it towed his "floating home" and all his possessions in 2009 from the city's marina as retaliation for stopping the redevelopment project.  

"If I win my appeal, I'm going back to the Riviera Beach marina," he says. "They'll learn not to mess with Fane Lozman."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.