BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 122
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          Date of Hearing:   July 1, 2013

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                   SB 122 (Lieu) - As Introduced:  January 18, 2013

           SENATE VOTE  :  38-0
           
          SUBJECT  :  Abandoned vessels: repeal of pilot program sunset date

           SUMMARY  :  Eliminates the sunset date on the surrendered vessel  
          pilot program that allows boat owners to voluntarily surrender a  
          vessel to a public agency at no cost, if that vessel is in  
          danger of being abandoned.   Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Deletes the sunset date on the surrendered vessel pilot  
            program that allows boat owners to voluntarily surrender a  
            vessel, thereby extending the program indefinitely.  

          2)Deletes alternative surrendered vessel program provisions  
            slated to replace the pilot program on January 1, 2014.  

          3)Deletes the requirement of the Department of Boating and  
            Waterways (DBW) to report on the number of surrendered vessels  
            accepted by a public agency.  

           EXISTING LAW  :  

          1)Establishes a pilot program, scheduled to sunset on January 1,  
            2014, that:  

             a)   Authorizes the sale of surrendered vessels prior to  
               their potential or eventual abandonment.  

             b)   Establishes a new class of vessels called "surrendered  
               vessels" and authorizes the sale of them to local law  
               enforcement or harbor departments prior to them being  
               abandoned.  

             c)   Requires DBW to track the number of surrendered vessels  
               accepted by a public agency for disposal under the  
               Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund (AWAF) grant program  
               over a two-year period from January 1, 2010, to January 1,  
               2013.  Requires DBW to report the information, along with  
               any recommendations to revise or continue the pilot  








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               program, to the Assembly Transportation Committee and the  
               Senate Transportation and Housing Committee by July 1,  
               2013.  

             d)   Increases the fine amount for vessel abandonments from  
               $500 to $1,000.  

             e)   Allows the use by local entities of grant funds from the  
               existing AWAF to dispose of the surrendered vessels.  

          1)Establishes alternate vessel abandonment provisions that are  
            to become effective January 1, 2014.  

          2)Holds the registered owner of an abandoned vehicle responsible  
            for the costs of abating and disposing of the vehicle, and any  
            other past due fees and penalties.  

          3)Authorizes the sale of a hulk, derelict, wreck, or parts of a  
            ship, vessel, or other watercraft sunk, beached, or allowed to  
            remain in an unseaworthy or dilapidated condition upon  
            publicly owned submerged lands, salt marsh, or tidelands  
            within corporate limits of a municipal corporation or other  
            public corporation or entity having jurisdiction or control  
            over those lands, without its consent, for a period longer  
            than 30 days without a watchman or other person in charge of  
            the property.  

          4)Authorizes wrecked property that is an unseaworthy derelict or  
            hulk, or abandoned property removed from a navigable waterway,  
            to be sold or otherwise disposed of by the public agency that  
            removed or caused the removal of the property, subject to  
            certain conditions, including that the property has been  
            appraised by disinterested persons, and has an estimated value  
            of less than $2,000.  

          5)Requires DBW to establish an Abandoned Vessel Advisory  
            Committee to study ways to prevent the abandonment of boats.    


           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, at least $250,000 annually in costs and cost  
          pressures to the AWAF for grants.  

           COMMENTS  :  Prior to 1998, abandoned vessels were removed  
          primarily by peace officers if the vessel was left unattended on  








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          a public waterway and if the vessel created a hazard to other  
          vessels, public safety, or other property, or was moored,  
          docked, beached, or made fast in such a way that it obstructed  
          the normal movement of traffic.  In 1997, in response to the  
          high cost to local governments of removing vessels and abating  
          any associated hazards, such as oil leaks, the state enacted SB  
          172 (Rainey), Chapter 930, Statutes of 1997.  SB 172 extended  
          the authorization for the removal and storage of vessels to  
          include incidences when the unattended vessel poses a threat to  
          adjacent wetlands, levees, sensitive habitat, any protected  
          wildlife species, or water quality.  That bill also expedited  
          the sale and disposal of abandoned boats valued under $300,  
          increased penalties to owners abandoning boats from $50 to  
          $500-$1500, and created AWAF to grant local governments monies  
          needed for removal of abandoned vessels.  

          In 2009, AB 166 (Lieu), Chapter 416, Statutes of 2009, was  
          enacted that established the pilot program authorizing the sale  
          of surrendered vessels prior to their potential or eventual  
          abandonment, and authorizing local agencies to accept title of  
          vessels from willing owners for the purposes of disposal.  

           Purpose of the bill  :  Currently, DBW grants funds to local  
          agencies for storage and/or disposal of the abandoned vessels  
          posing navigational or environmental hazards.  Local agencies  
          are required to provide a 10% match and show the DBW the average  
          annual cost of handling these abandoned vessels.  According to  
          DBW, many local agencies use the grant monies to contract with  
          specialists who dredge up the sunken boats and remedy any  
          hazardous substance the boat has released into the water.  

          It is the author's contention that this bill could save  
          thousands of dollars by allowing the surrendering of a  
          dilapidated vessel.  A vessel that is surrendered "costs much  
          less to dispose of compared to the cost of raising a sunken  
          vessel, expending the resources to determine if there is a  
          responsible owner, and then disposing of that vessel."  
           
          Abandoned Vessel Advisory Committee Report  :  Current law  
          requires the creation of an advisory committee to recommend how  
          to abate vessels abandoned along our state's waterways.  The  
          advisory committee's report issued by DBW in January 2005  
          suggested, among its many other recommendations, that a pilot  
          vessel turn-in program be initiated in three selected counties  
          that would encourage boat owners to voluntarily turn in their  








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          old and dilapidated boat prior to abandonment.  AB 166  
          implemented the recommendation of the advisory committee to  
          retrieve and dispose of boats before they are abandoned, but  
          only on a pilot, temporary basis.  

           DBW report  :  As required by AB 166, the DBW report regarding the  
          implementation of the pilot program is not yet due (July 1 due  
          date).  However, according to DBW, since the inception of the  
          pilot program in 2010, $400,000 from the AWAF has been  
          appropriated for vessel removal.  To date, these funds have  
          allowed public agencies to accept 165 surrendered vessels at an  
          average cost to the state of approximately $1,600 per vessel.   
          As a comparison over the same time period, it cost the state  
          over $4,000 per abandoned vessel for removal and disposal.   
          Public agencies are highly unlikely to accept a surrendered  
          vessel unless it receives a grant from DBW to pay for the  
          disposal of that vessel.  Further, relative to need for pilot  
          program extension, the program according to DBW has been  
          substantially oversubscribed.  Therefore, without the benefit of  
          the DBW report relative to the use of public agencies in  
          removing vessels, this bill would extend the DBW vessel  
          retrieval program indefinitely.  

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          California Assoc. of Harbor Masters and Port Captains
          California Marine Parks and Harbors Association  
          California State Lands Commission  
          California State Sheriffs' Association (support if amended)
          California Yacht Brokers Association
          City of Santa Barbara
          Marine Recreation Association  
          National Marine Manufacturers Association
          Port San Luis Harbor District
          Recreational Boaters of California  
          San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
          Solano County Board of Supervisors  
          Student Policy Alliance
          Western Boaters Safety Group

           Opposition 
           
          None on file








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          Analysis Prepared by  :   Ed Imai / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093