Lozman decided to challenge that decision in state court, arguing the meeting violated state open-government laws. That’s when the trouble began.
Lozman claims he was followed and harassed, his truck tampered with and damaged. He started showing up at city council meetings, where he got thrown out regularly and was even arrested a few times. The local politicians considered him a nuisance; other people saw him as a crusader.
Then the city served an eviction notice, contending that Lozman’s 10-pound dachshund, Lady, was a dangerous dog and that he used unlicensed repair workers at his home. The city argued at the time that he was on a month-to-month lease that could be terminated under state landlord-tenant law.
But there is no mention of the structure as a vessel — yet.
Lozman fought the eviction in court and won, with a jury finding in March 2007 that the eviction amounted to retaliation. Meanwhile, the marina redevelopment plan was shelved, only to be replaced by a scaled-down version that didn’t include use of eminent domain powers. Lozman fought that plan, too.
The city decided to change the rules at the marina, telling Lozman in 2009 his right to stay there would be revoked unless he got the structure registered as a vessel and that it had to be self-propelled, which Lozman said was impossible.
In 2009, after turning off Lozman’s electricity and ignoring a state judge’s order to turn it back on, the city went to federal court and for the first time sought to use U.S. maritime law to impose a lien on the structure as a vessel, not a house. The floating home would have been protected from seizure under state law. But a judge sided with the city, so the structure was seized, then bought by Riviera Beach at a U.S. Marshal’s auction for $4,100 and later destroyed.
Lozman said if he wins the case, he will return to living in a floating home in Riviera Beach.
“There is no reason to federalize state tenant-landlord law,” he said. “It’s working fine as it is.”
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.