September 23, 2005
Governor Signs Abandoned Vessel Legislation
Law Enforcement Officers Will Remove Deserted Boats from Public Waterways
SACRAMENTO -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday signed legislation that will allow law enforcement agencies to remove abandoned vessels from waterways, protecting California waters from deserted boat hazards. The bill, AB 716 (Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg), sponsored by Recreational Boaters of California, will become law on Jan. 1, 2006.
"By signing this bill, Governor Schwarzenegger has demonstrated his continued leadership in protecting both health of our state's natural resources and of the public," said California Department of Boating and Waterways Director Raynor Tsuneyoshi. "Abandoned vessels impede navigation and leak pollutants, destroying natural habitats."
Abandoned vessels pose a risk to other recreational boaters by obstructing waterways, sinking in shallow water, and leaking hazardous materials such as oil and gas. Vessels with registration expired for more than one year can be removed from public waterways by law enforcement officers.
"The changes instituted by AB 716 will enable law enforcement agencies to remove wrecked vessels more quickly so they don't become public health hazards," said Tsuneyoshi.
Under the law, the amount of time abandoned vessels may be held by law enforcement before being sold at auction will be reduced from 90 to 60 days. By reducing the delay, officers can avoid additional problems and costs that occur while vessels remain in the water.
Additionally, the new law will double the maximum fine for vessel abandonment on public waterways to $3,000. The law also will allow the court to order violators to repay the enforcing agency for the actual cost of removing and disposing of a vessel.
The Department of Boating and Waterways promotes on-the-water safety and helps develop convenient public access to the waterways through programs funded by vessel registration fees, boating fuel tax dollars and boating facility construction loan payments.