RBOC Supports Objective of Legislation Proposing Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation

RBOC is expressing to the author and proponents of AB 1918 [Garcia] the organization's support for the concept of promoting sustainable outdoor recreation as well as economic development and job growth within the outdoor recreation economy. AB 1918 proposes the establishment of a new Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation.

RBOC is also advocating that there are open questions and key issues that must be answered and addressed as legislation is pursued to create this new entity in state government. These include:

  • The position of the new office in state government – The exact position of the office within the Natural Resources Agency must be stated clearly in the legislation. This will enable stakeholders and interested parties to understand the standing of the proposed office and its relationship with other entities. 
  • The functions of the new office - It is important that the functions of the new office be very clear in the law, and that those functions do not impede, supersede, cannibalize or duplicate the important functions currently performed by other entities of state government. 
  • The funding of the new office –  It is important that the sources of public funding are set forth in the legislation, existing fees and taxes paid by recreational boaters are not re-directed to the office, and the office does not have statutory authority to impose fees on recreational boaters.

California offers remarkable, extensive and unique recreational opportunities. Californians – including recreational boaters - understand and appreciate the intrinsic value of outdoor recreation, its contributions to the economy including jobs and tourism, and the opportunities to grow each of these values. 

This perspective has already become integrated into the very fabric of state government in many ways. A decision to establish a new entity in government should be predicated upon the foundation established by these significant initiatives, respect the tremendous financial commitments that our citizens continue to contribute each year, and focus on clear new objectives that cannot be achieved through existing efforts.

RBOC appreciates being part of this dialogue, and looks forward to further discussions.

Save Boater Fundsfrom Being Pirated for Commercial Vessel Cleanup - Contact Assembly Appropriations Committee Members Prior to May 27

RBOC is continuing to encourage California Boaters to contact their elected representatives on the Assembly Appropriations Committee and to urge a “no” vote on AB 2092 [Frazier] in Committee unless the bill is amended so that recreational boaters’ funds will not be used to rid the waterways of abandoned commercial vessels.

Please take action today. The committe's decision on the bill will occur prior to a May 27 deadline.

To take action: click here

RBOC Working to Protect Boater Funds from being Tagged for Commercial Vessel Cleanup

RBOC is working to protect boater fuel tax dollars and registration fees from a proposal to target these funds for the cleanup of abandoned commercial vessels.

RBOC is opposing AB 2092 [Frazier] unless the bill is amended so that recreational boaters’ funds will not be used to rid the waterways of abandoned commercial vessels.

RBOC is greatly concerned that, as currently written, AB 2092 would open up the use of boater fuel tax dollars and registration fees for commercial vessels. The key issues:

  • Commercial vessels are much more expensive to clean-up and the cost of one vessel could exceed the entire fund.
  • The owners of commercial vessels do not contribute to the fund –only recreational vessel owners do.
  • The demand for clean-up of recreational vessels already exceeds the amount of available funds. These vessels should remain the topaat this time.
  • There have been no comprehensive studies of:
  • The extent to which abandoned commercial vessels represent danger on the waterways;
    • Whether the owners of abandoned commercial vessels can be identified and assessed cleanup costs; and
    • Whether there are other alternatives to tapping into the recreational boater-funded program, such as state recycle and superfund dollars.

AB 2092 proposes to open up the use of boater-generated fuel tax dollars and registration fees for the cleanup of abandoned commercial vessels. At issue is the integrity of the boater supported and financed Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund [AWAF] and Vessel Turn-in Program [VTIP]. RBOC has been – and continues to be - a strong supporter of both of these essential programs.

The AWAF and VTIP provide funds to public agencies to remove, store, and dispose of abandoned, wrecked, or dismantled recreational vessels which pose a substantial hazard to navigation, from navigable waterways or adjacent public property, or private property with the landowner's consent.

As part of its commitment to provide clean, safe and enjoyable recreational boating on California's waterways, the Division of Boating and Waterways [DBW] administers this statewide program. It allows public local agencies to apply for funding and upon approval, enter into a contract grant agreement with DBW.

The AWAF and VTIP, enacted in 1998 and 2010 respectively, have provided millions of dollars in grants, and have enabled the removal of thousands of vessels and other marine debris.

The Governor has proposed a budget of $1.75 million for the program in next year’s budget, and we understand that the monetary requests of grant applicants greatly exceed the available funds.

As RBOC has discussed with the author and proponents of the measure, rather than focus on recreational boaters’ funds, RBOC would be pleased to work with all interested stakeholders to address the issues raised by the abandonment of commercial vessels in California, and to identify effective, efficient, and balanced efforts that can be taken.

RBOC continues to be engaged in the productive dialogue that occurs within the abandoned vessel working group that focuses on these issues and can provide a beneficial forum for the development of ideas.

Other state and local agencies that have financial resources and expertise should also be approached. CalRecycle, for instance, completed a department-managed Pilot Project a few years ago with the stated objective of removing abandoned commercial vessels and debris that poses threats to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

There is a CalRecycle Solid Waste Cleanup Trust Fund and a State Water Resources Control Board Cleanup and Abatement Account.