Division of Boating and Waterways Commission receives regulations and grant updates

The DBW Commission met on Oct. 23 and 24 in San Diego, where commissioners toured the Shelter Island Boat Launch Ramp facility.

SAN DIEGO—Loan and grant programs and regulations were the focus of the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways Commission meeting on Oct. 24 in San Diego.

Ramona Fernandez, acting deputy director of the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), delivered an update on some regulations the division is working on. She said DBW is drafting regulations to establish a fee structure for their for-hire licensing program, which has historically been free. For-hire licensing is required for power vessel operators carrying four or more passengers for any type of compensation. DBW is also looking at drafting a fee structure for yacht brokers and salespersons licenses. That license is required for those selling used vessels for others that are 16 feet or longer and less than 300 gross tons.

Much of the rest of the meeting revolved around public comment and reports on the grant and loan programs DBW offers. DBW offers grant funding and loans through about half a dozen programs for boater-serving projects. Report highlights included recently completed projects, how much funding is being dedicated to each program and applicant interest.

Prior to the meeting, on Oct. 23, the commissioners took a field tour of the Shelter Island Boat Launch Ramp facility in San Diego. The renovated boat ramp reopened at the beginning of this year and was partly funded by one of those DBW grants.

DBW provided the Port of San Diego with $6.5 million in funding for the project though its Boat Launching Facility Grants program to enlarge the maneuvering area, build longer boarding floats, add new signage and lighting, and a create a public walking platform.

DBW is accepting applications for similar projects through the Boat Launching Facility Grants program. Applications are being accepted through Feb. 1, 2020 from qualifying public agencies.

According to the reports delivered on Oct. 24, the Boat Launching Facility Grants program and the Private Small Craft Harbor Loan Program had low turnout on the number of applications received this past year. While others, such as the Shoreline Erosion and Restoration Programs, have seen increasing applications every year. The Shoreline Erosion and Restoration Programs local assistance grants are available to government agencies and can be used to assist in the planning and construction of all types of beach erosion control and shoreline stabilization measures, as well as the planning and construction of engineered placement of sand on the beach or in the near shore environment.

The information provided during the Oct. 24 meeting will be used as DBW continues to address the revolving fund and the future needs of each of those programs. Several representatives from Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC), a non-profit government advocacy organization led by volunteer boating officers and directors, spoke during the public comment period about the allocation of funding and the desire for more discussion on revolving fund planning, the funding shortfall and plans going forward.

“There are programs that need to be funded and other programs that perhaps can be defunded,” RBOC President Ray Durazo said.

Commission Chair Virginia Madueño asked DBW to set a date for a public workshop in December to further discuss revolving fund planning and the funding shortfall.

The Oct. 24 commission meeting was the first for Kenneth Ehrman, who was appointed to the commission on Sept. 20 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“It’s my hope to collaboratively work with the stakeholders and the citizens and the commission to get some things done, some positive things done for this board,” Ehrman said during his opening remarks at the start of the meeting.

The full meeting can be viewed at bit.ly/2WnUnyt.

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