Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law a bill by Sen. Ted W. Lieu (who represents Santa Monica, the Westside, and the South Bay) that renews his successful 2009 law to remove pollution-spewing abandoned vessels from state waterways.
“Many coastal and river communities in California are trying to remove boats that have sunk and are clogging waterways because their owners can’t afford to keep them seaworthy,” Lieu said about a measure that extends Assembly Bill 166, signed into law when he was in the Assembly. “SB 122 represents an efficient way of using existing funds to address an important environmental problem.”
Records show California has the second largest boating population in the nation with nearly 1 million registered boats.
Since Lieu’s AB 166 became law, 144 boats have been turned into authorities and removed at a cost of $1,638 per boat.
“Without the program, it would have cost $3,892 per boat, more than twice the cost,” Lieu said. “So clearly the governor has seen that this program has been effective.”
With such a large population of boating activity, there is an urgent need for local public agencies to remove abandoned vessels that are past their useful lives. These abandoned boats not only create traffic hazards in the waterways, but also leak toxins such as fuel and oil into the water and harm wildlife.
Law enforcement officials praised the program, saying too many waterways have become ‘aquatic junkyards’ and that Lieu’s bill provides needed resources and authority to remove abandoned or otherwise unseaworthy watercraft.
The pro-environment measure has helped the job of cleaning up after abandoned vessels and is expected to again be supported by state and local officials.
SB 122 was supported by the Solano County Board of Supervisors; the California State Lands Commission; the California Association of Harbor Masters and Port Captains; the City of Santa Barbara – Office of the Mayor; the Port of San Luis Harbor District; Recreational Boaters of California; the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission; California Marine Parks and Harbors Association; the California Yacht Brokers Association; the Marina Recreation Association; the National Marine Manufacturers Association; the Western Boaters Safety Group; and the Student Policy Alliance.
SB 122 takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.