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L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Gets $67,000 for Derelict Vessel Disposal

posted: 12/19/2011
MARINA DEL REY — With the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department aiming to decrease the number of abandoned vessels in Marina del Rey, a new program is geared toward decreasing the cost of proper boat disposal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors accepted a $17,000 grant from the California Department of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) to assist boat owners who are interested in surrendering old vessels through this program.

A second vote enabled the county to gain access to $50,000 in state funds for the disposal of at least 10 boats that have already been abandoned — a substantial increase from the county’s state grant last year.

According to Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, abandoned boats have become a vexing problem in the past several years as many owners unable to sell or maintain their vessels have given up and walked away from them, sometimes sinking them in local harbors, ignoring them until they break free from their moorings or allowing them to deteriorate in their slips.

When a boater abandons a vessel, the cost to properly store and dispose of the boat is passed on to taxpayers and local government agencies. The focus of the Cal Boating grant is to assist the Sheriff’s Department in ridding Marina del Rey of abandoned derelict vessels. It provides a way for registered owners to legally surrender a boat for proper disposal and makes funds available to destroy the vessel.

“We have to move it out of harm’s way, so that it’s not a public nuisance. Then we have to store it; and then we have to go through a long process to find the owner and do a lien sale auction if the owner doesn’t show up,” explained Santos Kreimann, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. “It’s become a worsening problem.”

Last year, according to the Sheriff’s Department, the county disposed of 24 abandoned boats that had been left in the marina, sunk in local waters or allowed to wash up on county beaches. Authorities expect that number to rise to 30 or more boats this year.

The one-year grant period will be in effect through June 30, 2012.

Since 1997, state funds have been available to agencies looking for ways to fund abandoned boat costs through the Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund. In addition, a second state program known as the Vessel Turn-In Program was established in 2009, giving boat owners a way to dispose of boats legally and giving agencies another avenue to acquire grants.

“The marinas usually know who’s delinquent on slip fees or soon to be delinquent,” said Denise Peterson, boating law enforcement manager for Cal Boating. “This program allows them to reach out to these owners and say, ‘Don’t worry, you’re free and clear: Let us take care of it.’ It saves a lot in administrative costs.”

The Vessel Turn-In Program was established under Assembly Bill 166 and began in January 2010.

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