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State May Eliminate Department of Boating and Waterways

State parks division would absorb boating agency.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed eliminating the Department of Boating and Waterways, which provides grants for boating law enforcement, marina construction and abandoned vessel removal.

In an effort to cut costs, Gov. Brown wants to reduce the number of state agencies from 12 to 10, including integrating DBW as a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation, rather than a standalone agency.

The proposal is currently under review by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight organization that seeks ways to promote government efficiency.

“There will be a loss of transparency, a loss of accountability, leadership and boating programs in the future,” said Anne Sacks, former president of the Recreational Boaters of California, a lobbying organization that represents boaters’ interests in California.

If the Little Hoover Commission approves Gov. Brown’s recommendations, the merger would also eliminate DBW’s commission, responsible for overseeing grants made with state funds for recreational boating projects.

“The proposed transfer...may jeopardize important beach restoration functions, data collection and research activities,” according to a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors April 25 letter sent to Gov. Brown and the Little Hoover Commission. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department receives $115,000 to enforce boating regulations in Marina del Rey and Santa Monica Bay and the Fire Department Lifeguard Division collects about $2 million for its rescue boat operations from DBW, according to the letter.

DBW is primarily funded through boating registration fees and gasoline taxes on boat fuel and generates about $69 million a year. If the plan is approved, these funds would be included in the Parks and Recreation’s budget, and could be allocated for non-boating related issues. About $27 million every year is already being diverted from DBW to Parks and Recreation, according to the Little Hoover Commission.

“Should the proposal to eliminate DBW limit the availability of funding for boating and coastal issues, future county projects could be severely hampered,” the board of supervisors stated. “It is vital that DBW remain a separate entity to continue to provide safe and convenient public access to California’s waterways.” 

The Little Hoover Commission will make its recommendation, either for or against Gov. Brown’s plan of reducing state agencies to 10, on May 22. Afterward, the Senate or the Assembly has 60 days to vote on the bill, which requires a majority vote.

Ann Chorbi May 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Terrible, terrible decision if they go with it being state run and funded.....
Fed Up May 14, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Loss of transparency? Loss of accountability? How? Are they accountable and transparent now? I'm sorry, I have been dealing with this agency for years and they are only catering to special interests like the RBOC - WHICH IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION THAT REPRESENTS BOATERS INTERESTS. The litmus test is asking these Yacht Club Organization what they have done on the thousands of slips being lost in the harbors. For the longest time until just recently, the DBW Commission never traveled and the meetings were held in Sacramento and boaters didn't have access to them. While the employees seem very nice, I wouldn't say that the agency is "transparent" with the information it is responsible for. The very important Boating Studies that DBW has done in the past have been discontinued. The lack of good data needed for redevelopment is responsible for the huge decline of recreational boating in California. The RBOC and Yacht Clubs have been caught in a compromising situation by passively promoting the destruction of boat slips. Appalling!

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