Reader Comments, Oct. 21 Issue

Marina evictions and unwitting judges

Re: The ins and outs of marina evictions (Aug. 26 “Ask a Maritime Attorney”). Mr. Well, you mentioned in one of your articles that after a 30-day notice to vacate ended and tenants had not moved their vessel out of the marina, the marina owner could shut off the power and water and consider the boat owner as a trespasser (with the condition, vessel was not tied to a sewage line). Is this still a valid option for a frustrated marina owner?


Jack, the answer in California is yes . . . but with one important footnote. If somehow the tenant were to hire a lawyer, you may end up in front of a judge who refuses to follow the law. Judges are generally not familiar with maritime law, and if you get one who feels sympathetic to your tenant (who I assume is a liveaboard), the judge may make your life difficult regardless of the law. Sad but true. In the long run you would likely prevail even if the judge sets up obstacles, but it would add to your legal expenses Also, your slip rental agreement may have language that would change things, so I can’t comment conclusively without seeing the agreement.

David Weil

Maritime Attorney


Drone fly zone

Re: What to know before launching a drone from your boat (Sept. 23 issue). Additionally, a drone no-fly zone that includes most of San Diego, including all of Coronado, Mission Bay and parts of Chula Vista that is off-limits to drones due to military restrictions.



Double, double toil and tax trouble

Re: Are taxes on boats too onerous in California (Oct. 7 issue) Boat broker Dean West says, “Out-of-state owners are being taxed for services they are not taking advantage of, such as schools or roads or fire or trash.”  I was not aware that “Zonies” parking their yachts in San Diego are magically teleported in without using roads — and I wasn’t aware people who serve them, clean their boats, put out their fires or take out their trash, don’t need education or to be paid.  I have an idea, tax them double.

Hans Laetz 

As a “Zonie” I feel I do pay a fair amount of taxes in California for the limited time spent there. I buy gas, groceries, eat at restaurants, stay in motels and pay slip fees all of which taxes are paid. “Zonies” should pay double, suggested in comment above are the largest part of San Diego’s tourism industry which supports many local jobs and businesses. You should welcome the “Zonies” and be proud that people want to share your beautiful area.

Bill Achtenberg

First of all we should welcome “Zonies” to our marinas and communities. Many marinas barely make money — with many slips open. Part of the reason is incredibly high taxes boat owners pay on top of other taxes and fees, eventually causing them to give up and pull the boat out of the water or put it up for sale.

The entire boat taxation and assessors’ tax calculations are ridiculous. My boat is taxed 30 percent higher than its true value. I called the assessors office and they said the real value doesn’t matter, they use a “book” listing taxable values — and either you pay it, or they put a lean on your boat and charge up to 20 percent in penalties — increasing the longer payment is delinquent.

What a scam. I certainly don’t see better roads and better schools and better trash systems. The money should go directly back into the marinas and other boating enhancements, benefiting boaters and their boating environment.

It’s a bureaucratic rip off and should be abolished…. Happy Boating!

Greg Hart

 Taxes are even worse in Orange County municipal marinas as boaters have an additional tax assessed on them. Boaters in an Orange County-owned wet slip or dry storage space are charged a Possessory Interest Tax on the portion of the facility they do or could use. Not only does this include the slip or space, but also the dock, parking lots and even bathrooms.

This tax was written as a tax on private businesses doing business on municipal property. For example, a restaurant or a vending machine owner in an airport or a bus terminal would pay tax on space they used. The idea being, the tax would even the costs with a business leasing space in a privately owned building, that includes a portion of the property tax in the lease to the business.

When Dana Point Harbor was built there were three marina companies doing business directly with boaters, the West Marina, the East Marina and the Embarcadero Dry Storage. These businesses were charged the PI Tax, which was figured into the cost of doing business and passed on to the boater in the monthly rent. The PI Tax became an issue after the county took over the harbor and started dealing directly with the boaters. The rent remained the same price as it was with the private companies, which already included the PI Tax. However, the county assessed the tax again keeping the original tax they collect in the rent as clear profit. This seems like double taxation to me and very wrong.

The leaders of the Dana Point Boaters Association fought the tax for years and then those same leaders continued the fight as Boaters 4 Dana Point Harbor. The argument against the PI Tax had to be fought each year as a new case, and each year the tax was reduced for the boaters that submitted the paperwork. However, because the tax had to be fought each year boaters became weary and gave up.

Orange County won big, the boaters lost big and boaters in Dana Point Harbor are paying their PI Tax still today. The cost of boating keeps going up, more families are shut out of this wonderful activity, and we wonder why the family unit is breaking down?

Ted Olsen

I have been pursuing the so-called “Possessory Interest” tax rip-off and have determined it to be the most idiotic, unfair, and, completely arbitrary tax ever imposed on the boat owning public. I discussed this issue with Mr. Lee (O.C. Assessor’s Office Manager) who was very courteous and furnished information which is so convoluted and complex I couldn’t follow it completely. Basically, the tax is ‘whatever they say it is’ — period. For instance: If you are in a slip, in a county-owned marina, on Jan. 1 you will be billed for use of that slip for the full year. However, if you move out by June 30, the tax will be cancelled. The means test for determining when and how much to tax is not defined, but left up to the discretion of the Assessor’s Office. The baseline is determined by the value of the rent collected on the slip from the boat owners — but that is the only part that is clear. From there, it becomes so confusing and complicated with arbitrary deductions and exceptions one cannot follow it. The Assessor and Tax Collector are only doing their jobs per the “written law” and just like the tax imposed on the tea imported by the Colonists, it is totally wrong, immoral and unjust. We boaters need to take this seriously and put a stop to it. An attempt was made about four years ago but died on the vine. I’m certainly glad the Colonists were more tenacious and found a simple solution to their problems.

Wayne Ford

If you have a boat in Dana Point Harbor, vote no on Measure M! It’s an $889 million school bond that Capistrano Unified School District will levy on all of our possessory tax bills as well as homes within its boundaries. Its ultimate cost over a 35-year period is estimated at $1.8 BILLION. It was put on the ballot without community engagement and against the recommendations of almost every city mayor, and the South Orange county economic coalition, just to name a few. (Look at your possessory tax bill – it already has a 1999 measure that we’re still paying for…). To find out more about why you should vote no on Measure M, please visit:

Cindy V.


Re: The inexact science of measuring your boat (Sept. 23 issue) Bureaucracy and regulation typically lead to solutions without a problem, and problems without a solution. This, in turn, leads to more bureaucracy and regulation. Costs increase according to a yet undetermined metric that, thus far, exceeds the capacity of supercomputers — and is only limited by the tolerance of those who pay.

Bran Aherne


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