From the Helm
Dear MRA Members & Guests,
I hope you and your boaters had a wonderful July 4th celebration; there is no better place to be than on the water. It strikes me that during these heated political times, taking time to be on or around a body of water can be a much-needed balm.
I recently participated in the political process and worked closely with our fellow MRA members, our lobbyists, and partner associations on AB 252. AB 252, authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta, is a bill dealing with groundwater management that was amended to impose rent control on floating homes and potentially impact all recreational boaters. Thankfully, MRA Director Steve Meckfessel brought the matter to our lobby team and me just in the nick of time. In 36 hours, Steve and his daughter K.C. worked with Phil Wiess and our lobbyists to craft the letter below laying out the issue and the need for amendments to exempt recreational marinas.
At the request of our lobbyist, I called into the hearing and prepared to testify in opposition should the author refuse the amendments we sought. At the hearing, she accepted the committee amendments fixing the intent and substance of the bill to our satisfaction for the moment. We could remove our opposition, but through this effort, our position and portions of our letter were recorded in the committee analysis. This will be critical should issues like this arise in the future. It’s all about building the case for our industry before the lawmakers that know little or nothing about what we do.
Please email me if you want to join the effort with Steve; the Alameda Marinas are still fighting a City of Alameda Ordinance, which will impact recreational boaters in that region and potentially other locations in the Bay Area. Every few years, an issue percolates to the top that strikes the core of our business, and this is one of those moments.
My thanks to Steve and K.C. for dropping everything to work on this with Sacramento, our friends at RBOC for joining the fray and coming to committee to testify, and a sincere thank you goes to our lobbyist Beau Biller for his work on our behalf.
AB 252 (Bonta) Floating home Marinas: Rent Caps- Oppose Unless Amended
June 21, 2022
The Honorable Thomas Umberg
Chair of Senate Judiciary Committee
California State Senate
1021 O St, Room 405
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB 252 (Bonta) Floating home Marinas: Rent Caps- Oppose Unless Amended
Dear Chair Umberg,
The Marine Recreation Association is writing to oppose AB 252 unless amended to explicitly exclude vessels. While the bill provides it only applies to floating homes, floating home marinas, and floating home slips only, AB 252, as currently written, may be subject to the same misinterpretation as Alameda Ordinance No. 3317 (hereinafter, No. 3317). No. 3317 was drafted with the same intent as AB 252 relating to its scope, with similar language pertaining to floating homes, which the City of Alameda is now unlawfully misinterpreting to include liveaboard privileges on vessels at recreational marinas.
The Marine Recreation Association is a non-profit association that represents marina owners, boatyards, operators, and industry professionals throughout the Western U.S., Mexico, Hawaii, and Australia. The Association’s mission is to provide a united voice in representing the interests of the boating and marine industries and to help educate and inform in all areas of recreation boating. There are roughly over 600 marinas throughout California; 8 of those in Alameda are now baselessly, unjustly, and unlawfully subjected by Alameda City Council to No. 3317—an ordinance that was never meant to apply to them, but to the one floating home marina in Alameda.
Specifically, Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ashcraft represented that No. 3317 was an "Urgency Ordinance amending the City’s Rent Control Ordinance, and other Rent Related Ordinances, so they also apply to floating homes and houseboats." (Exhibit No. 1; April 14, 2022 email from Mayor Ashcraft entitled "Barnhill Marina - Update" [italics added].). In the same email, she also indicated there was state-level endorsement of No. 3317, by Assemblymember Bonta and Senator Skinner, as well as the Legislative Counsel, to wit: "[Mayor Ashcraft] asked Senator Skinner and Assemblymember Bonta’s offices to request an opinion from the Legislative Counsel, clarifying the City’s ability to include floating homes and houseboats in these [rental] ordinances." (Ibid.; italics added.) She went on to say "the Legislative Counsel gave Senator Skinner’s office a preliminary oral opinion that appears encouraging and supportive of local regulation. We have also requested a written version of this Legislative Counsel opinion, in the event it is needed for potential future litigation." The special meeting, emergency ordinance, and all other communications from the Mayor make it clear that No. 3317, as AB 252, only extends rental ordinances to floating homes and houseboats.
Although No. 3317 by its own language and intent of the drafters pertains only to "floating homes and houseboats," Alameda Council is now bootstrapping the eight recreational marinas that do not have berths for floating homes and houseboats, into No. 3317. While AB 252 is indeed focused on rent control for floating home residencies at the statewide level, No. 3317 provided the same at the local level as is now be grossly distorted to include liveaboard privileges on vessels at recreational marinas. Without exception, all of the correspondence presented to the City Council in connection with its consideration of No. 3317 pertains to “Floating Homes,” as this term is defined in the Floating Home Residency Law (the “FHRL”) which is codified at Civil Code Sections 800-800.306. All of these “Floating Homes” are located at Barnhill Marina. To our knowledge, none of the vessels at the eight other recreational marinas are equipped with a permanent sewage connection, and hence they are not “Floating Homes.” All complaints expressed in the correspondence the City Council considered appear to be from people living aboard “Floating Homes”—or dead vessels--under the FHRL, not ordinary vessels, and all complaints are related to a floating home marina, not a recreational marina. The Executive Summary presented at the April 28, 2022 meeting of the Alameda City Council provides that: “Adoption of the Ordinance is urgently necessary to prevent imminent displacement of dozens of residents, many of them seniors with limited means, at one of the city’s marinas” and makes clear No. 3317 was borne of concerns relating to a single floating home marina’s handling of matters.
Since No. 3317 is consistent with AB 252 in terms of intent and language, we are concerned AB 252 would similarly be misinterpreted to encompass liveaboard privileges on vessels at recreational marinas, regulated by maritime law, as the Alameda Mayor and the City have now done.
Again, providing that AB 252 applies only to floating homes, floating home marinas and floating home slips, we do not have any issue with it. Our concern is if this extends in any way into recreational marinas, recreational vessels with or without liveaboard privileges, which are clearly covered as vessels under federal maritime law. Floating homes are "dead ships" and as such do not have protection under federal maritime law as we understand it and thus we have no issue with protecting such under rent control laws/ordinances.
From a policy perspective, there are approximately 500 floating home slips in the Bay Area and not a single vacancy. Since these are "grandfathered" in as floating homes are understood to violate the public trust and access to tidelands/waterways by the public (see Exhibit No. 2; Letter from Deputy Attorney General to the California State Lands Commission) and there will be no further such slips added. Thus, there is no place for floating home owners to go if they are forced out of their slip. We understand why they need protection, as illustrated by the issue Alameda City Council intended to address.
In the case of recreational marina slips, there are approximately 17,000 slips in the Bay Area of which about 3,000 are vacant. Arguably, the Bay Area has among the highest salt water marina vacancy rates in the country and some of the lowest slip and liveaboard rates. Therefore, unlike floating homes/marinas, there is simply no policy need to "protect" recreational boaters, with or without liveaboard privileges. Furthermore, maritime law which they fall under does not accommodate such protection in any case. In addition, No. 3317 is an excessive exercise of police power, impinges on the Contracts Clause, offends maritime law, as well as state law and United States Supreme Court precedent.
Instead of advancing legitimate policy concerns, imposing rental control requirements on marinas that do not provide accommodations for “Floating Homes” offend policy considerations that benefit the public. Some marina owners or operators might determine, as many already have, that its interests are best served by terminating vessel live aboard tenancies, in favor of providing slips for ordinary vessels, without live aboard privileges. Most or all marina contracts in California provide that either party may freely terminate a tenancy upon 30 days written notice. Liveaboards want this option and have expressed that they do not want or need rental protection. (See, e.g., Exhibit no. 3; Email from Chuck and Edie Herro [liveaboards] to Alameda City Council re No. 3317.)
Additionally, liveaboard privileges at recreational marinas typically cannot exceed 10% of the slips due to environmental concerns and regulations by the Bay Conservation & Development Commission (BCDC). The issue of sneak-a-boards and out anchoring are issues recreational marinas deal with constantly, and recreational marinas need federal maritime law to ensure the protection of our environment, water, and natural resources. (See Exhibit No. 4; Letter from City Attorney in the City of Emeryville; see also Exhibit No. 2, pages 5-6 of letter from Deputy Attorney General to the California State Lands Commission.) No. 3317 is creating an environmental and safety threat to Alameda, the estuary, and our waterways. (See generally, Exhibit Nos. 3-4.)
For these reasons, we oppose AB 252 unless it is amended to explicitly state it only applies to floating homes, floating home marinas, and floating home slips only—and excludes vessels.
Marine Recreation Association President
Cc: Assemblymember Mia Bonta
Exhibit No. 1: April 14, 2022 email from Mayor Ashcraft entitled "Barnhill Marina - Update"
Exhibit No. 2: Letter from Deputy Attorney General to the California State Lands Commission
Exhibit No. 3: Email from Chuck and Edie Herro [liveaboards at Marina Village Yacht Harbor] to Alameda City Council re No. 3317
Exhibit No. 4: Letter from City Attorney in the City of Emeryville
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Senator Thomas Umberg, Chair
2021-2022 Regular Session
AB 252 (Mia Bonta) Version: June 14, 2022
Hearing Date: June 28, 2022 Fiscal: No
Urgency: No TSG
Floating home marinas: rent caps
This bill would restrict the annual amount by which a marina could increase the rent for a floating home berth to three percent plus inflation up to a maximum of five percent.
There are about 500 floating homes in California. As the name implies, a floating home is a residence docked in a berth in a marina, from which the floating home typically gets its utility connections. The owner of a floating home holds title to the vessel itself, but rents the berth at which the vessel is docked from the marina. Floating homes are not easy to move and there are only a very limited number of marina berths available.
Existing state law does not limit how much a marina can charge for a floating home berth. As a result, there is little that floating homeowners can do when their marinas decide to increase the rent significantly, as at least one large marina has reportedly done recently. Not only must the floating home owner pay the higher rent; the sale value of the floating home goes down as well, because any buyer will inherit the higher rent bill with the vessel. To help address this dynamic, this bill would restrict the amount by which a marina could increase the berth rent for a floating home each year to three percent plus inflation up to a maximum increase of five percent. These rent restrictions would apply even through a change in the vessel’s ownership.
The bill is sponsored by the Bay Area Floating Homes Association. Support comes from local elected officials in places with floating home marinas and from floating home residents. There is no known opposition. The bill was gutted and amended on June 14, 2022 to introduce the current content. If the bill passes out of this Committee, it will next be heard on the Senate Floor.
PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE LAW
1) Defines a “floating home” to mean a floating structure which is all of the following
- a) it is designed and built to be used, or is modified to be used, as a stationary waterborne residential dwelling;
- b) it has no mode of power of its own; and
- c) it is dependent for utilities upon a continuous utility linkage to a source originating on shore. (Health & Saf. Code § 18075.55.)
2) Establishes the Floating Home Residency Law, which governs the content of floating home lease agreements, allowable fees, marina rules, relations between owners and the marina, grounds for termination, and the procedures associated with transfer of ownership of a floating home, among other things. (Civ. Code §§ 800 et seq.)
3) Allows marinas, in the absence of a local rent control ordinance or a fixed-term lease, to raise rents whenever they want and as much as they want subject only a requirement to provide at least 30 days advance notice before the date of the increase, and the reason for the increase, including the basis for any calculation used in determining the amount of the increase. (Civ. Code § 800.40.)
4) Establishes the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 which applies to specified rental agreements for residential real property and includes the following provisions:
- a) limits gross rent increases in a 12-month period to the lower of five percent plus the change in the cost of living up to a maximum cap of 10 percent (Civ. Code § 1947.12);
- b) creates eviction protections which require landlords to have and to state a “just cause” for terminating a tenancy (Civ. Code § 1946.2); and
- c) exempts certain properties from its provisions, including units built in the last 15 years, tenancies which have not lasted at least 12 months, units subject to a more protective local measure, and single-family homes and condominiums unless owned by a real estate trust or corporation. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.12 and 1946.2.)
5) Restricts annual rent increases to three percent plus inflation up to a maximum of five percent in mobilehome parks that are located within and governed by the jurisdictions of two or more incorporated cities. (Civ. Code § 798.30.5.)
1) Revises the definition of “floating home marina” so that it includes any area where five or more floating home berths are rented, or held out for rent, to accommodate floating homes, but excludes a marina or harbor where all of the following are true:
- a) it is managed by a nonprofit organization, the property, assets, and profits of which may not inure to any individual or group of individuals, but only to another nonprofit organization;
- b) the rules and regulations of the marina or harbor are set by majority vote of the berthholders thereof; and
- c) the marina or harbor contains berths for fewer than 25 floating homes.
2) Prohibits a marina from raising the gross rental rate for a tenancy in a floating home marina by more than three percent plus inflation up to a maximum of five percent each year.
3) Allows a marina to set the initial rental rate for a new berth tenancy in which no homeowner from the prior tenancy remains in lawful possession of the berth, unless otherwise restricted by local ordinance (vacancy decontrol).
4) Provides that if a floating home is purchased in-place, meaning that it remains docked in the berth, then initial rental rate for the new owner shall be set at the rental rate of the previous tenancy (vacancy control).
5) Exempts the following tenancies from (2) through (4), above:
- a) floating home berths that are deed-restricted or otherwise subject to affordable housing restrictions, as specified; or
- b) floating home berths subject to any ordinance, rule, regulation, or initiative measure that restricts annual increases in the rental rate to an amount less than that provided in (2), above
6) Applies retroactively to all rent increases occurring on or after January 1, 2022, but provides that if a marina has increased the rent by more than the amount permissible under (2), above, between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2023, both of the following shall apply:
- a) the applicable rent on January 1, 2023, shall be the rent as of January 1, 2022, plus the maximum permissible increase under (2), above; and
- b) the marina is not liable to a homeowner for any corresponding rent overpayment.
7) Allows a marina that increases the rental rate for a tenancy on or after January 1, 2022, but prior to January 1, 2023, by an amount less than the rental rate increase permitted by (2), above, to increase the rental rate twice within 12 months of January 1, 2022, so long as the increases do not exceed the maximum rental rate increase permitted by (2), above.
8) Provides that any waiver of the rights conferred by the bill is void as contrary to public policy.
9) Does not preempt local floating home rent control ordinances that only allow smaller increases than (2), above.
10) Contains a sunset provision expiring on January 1, 2030.
1. What is a floating home?
As defined by California law, a floating home is a floating structure designed and built to be a stationary waterborne residential dwelling that has no mode of power of its own, depends on a continuous utility linkage to a source onshore, and has a permanent continuous hookup to a shoreside sewage system. (Health & Saf. Code § 18075.55.)
According to the proponents of this bill there are about 500 total floating homes in marinas around the San Francisco Bay Area, including marinas in Alameda, Richmond, and Sausalito. The Harbor Equity Group asserts people living in floating homes are “one of the most economically diverse populations in our region, including many seniors and others living on low and fixed incomes. Floating homes provide some of the only naturally occurring affordable housing for healthcare workers, crafts and trades people, artists and civil servants.”
Typically, the floating homeowner owns the vessel itself and is only renting the berth in which the vessel is docked. Theoretically, the floating home could be disconnected from the marina’s utility and sewer lines and towed away to another berth in another marina. In practice, however this is usually prohibitively expensive or simply impossible to do. Moreover, the proponents of this bill report that there are an extremely limited number of floating home berths available. As the Bay Area Floating Home Association puts it: “[b]ecause there are no more floating home berths, we are sitting ducks, vulnerable to exploitation by an unscrupulous landlord.”
For this reason, floating homes are highly regulated, much like mobilehomes, with whom floating homes share this bifurcated ownership structure. Floating homes, like mobilehomes, have their own special body of law, the Floating Home Residency Law (FHRL), which governs all aspects of living in a marina community and the relationship between marinas and floating homeowners. Curiously, however, apart from requiring the provision of 30 days’ advance notice, the FHRL places no limitation on rent increases in the floating home context.
2. Vulnerabilities of floating homes to berth rent increases
In theory at least, tenants living in houses or apartment on dry land have an option when their landlord raises the rent: they can move elsewhere. Floating homes are different. There is little that a floating homeowner can do if the marina management
decides to raise the rent for the berth. As a result, when it comes to the rent, there is a strong bargaining power imbalance between the marina and a floating home owner.
The proponents of this bill report that some California marinas have taken advantage of this dynamic to dramatically increase berth rents in recent months. As a result, the affected floating homeowners say many of them will no longer be able to afford to stay in their floating homes. This bill is intended to prevent floating home residents from being displaced from their homes in this fashion.
3. Restrictions on annual rent increase proposed by this bill
Existing law does not limit how much a marina can increase the rent for a floating home berth each year. By contrast, this bill would restrict annual berth rent increases to three percent plus inflation up to a maximum of five percent per year. A marina could raise the rent up to two times during the year so long as the total increase did not exceed these caps.
Since marinas are not bound by this bill currently, they are free to raise the rent and, anticipating passage of this bill, some may do so. A similar conundrum arose during legislative consideration of the statewide anti-rent gouging law, AB 1482 (Chiu, Ch. 597, Stats. 2019). In that case, the Legislature chose to give the rent caps retroactive effect but, to avoid complex accounting problems and a situation in which landlords might end up owning tenants money, that legislation allowed any rent increases to go into effect while the bill was pending, but made the rent revert to the restricted level upon the operative date of the statute. This bill employs the same device, meaning that on January 1, 2023, all floating home owners’ berth rent would revert to what they were charged on January 1, 2022 plus the maximum permissible increase under the bill (which will almost certainly be five percent for this year, given high rates of inflation).
4. Vacancy control and its relevance to floating home equity
This bill is modeled on the anti-rent gouging statute that California enacted in 2019 (AB 1482, Chiu, Ch. 597, Stats. 2019.) However, this bill diverges from that model is at least two key ways.
First, AB 1482 limited rent-gouging in California by placing an upper limit on annual rent increases: five percent plus inflation up to a hard cap of 10 percent. (Civ. Code § 1947.12.) This bill is more restrictive: its upper limit on rent increases is three percent plus inflation up to a maximum of five percent. This is in line with the rent increase limitations that this Legislature approved last year for residents of mobilehome parks that straddle two jurisdictions. (AB 978 (Quirk-Silva, Ch. 125, Stats. 2021.)
The other major difference between the existing statewide anti-rent gouging laws and this bill is that the existing laws for land-based tenants provide for vacancy decontrol.
Vacancy decontrol means that whenever a completely new set of tenants moves into a rental unit, the landlord is free to set the initial rental rate at whatever level the market will bear. By contrast, this bill calls for what might be called partial vacancy decontrol. The bill specifies, in effect, that if a berth becomes completely vacant – meaning that the floating home is no longer docked there – then the marina is free to set a new rental rate for that berth. However, if the floating homeowner sells the vessel in-place to a new owner, then vacancy control applies: the marina can only charge the new owner whatever the marina was charging the old owner and any further rent increases have to comply with the rent caps.
The inclusion of this provision is vital from the point of view of the proponents of this bill, many of whom are floating home owners themselves. Vacancy control is especially important to floating home owners because the potential sale price of their vessel – and therefore the equity they have in their home – is directly tied to how much the rent for the berth costs. For example, suppose Sally owns a floating home in a marina. The marina charges her $1,000 per month to dock her floating home there. Sally is thinking of moving away and David is thinking of buying the floating home from her. He is willing to pay Sally $100,000 if he will be paying the same amount of rent as Sally did. But if the marina can double the rent for the berth when David moves in, he knows he will be paying an additional $12,000 each year for his housing. That makes buying Sally’s floating home less attractive financially and David is likely to reduce his offer to Sally accordingly. In this way, the marina’s ability to charge future residents more cuts down on the value of Sally’s home today. As the Mayor of the City of Alameda reports in her letter supporting the bill, this effect has already had an impact on Bay Area floating homeowners:
In one Bay Area marina where berth rents are being doubled, a home fell out of escrow and two others have received no offers because the berth rent is too high. Though this kind of abuse has not yet happened on our side of the Bay, there are no legal protections in place to ensure that it won’t. Vacancy control would set a limit on how much a marina owner can increase the berth rent when a floating home sells. This bill would protect homeowners' right to the full equity in their homes.
Viewed from the floating home owners’ perspective, preserving equity makes perfect sense. As a policy matter however, it should be noted that preserving the floating home owner’s equity comes at the expense of additional rent revenue for the marina. That additional revenue may simply be windfall profit, but it could also be needed for maintenance or desirable for investing in improvements.
5. Constitutional considerations related to rent control
Courts have consistently upheld the power of government to impose rent control so long as the mechanism assures that landlords can achieve a reasonable return on their investment. (Kavanau v. Santa Monica Rent Control Bd. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 761; Fisher v. City of Berkeley (1984) 37 Cal. 3d 644; Birkenfeld v. Berkeley (1976) 17 Cal.3d 129.)
Whether there has ever been a measure applying rent control to floating homes specifically, as this bill would do, is unclear. However, the courts have approved the imposition of rent control measures in the context of mobilehomes which, for the reasons previously discussed in the analysis, share many commonalities with floating homes. (Carson Mobilehome Park Owners’ Ass’n v. City of Carson (1983) 35 Cal.3d 184.) Both have bifurcated ownership between the dwelling itself and the space in which the dwelling is located.
6. Arguments in support of the bill According to the author:
Assembly Bill 252 adds rent and vacancy control to the Floating Home Residency Law to protect one of the Bay Area’s last sources of affordable housing. The Bay Area’s floating home communities (425 in Sausalito, 10 in Richmond, and 42 in Alameda) provide housing for one of the most economically diverse populations in the region, including many seniors and others living on low and fixed incomes. These floating home marinas provide some of the only naturally occurring affordable housing for healthcare workers, crafts and trades people, artists and civil servants. These residents own their homes but rent their berths from marina owners. Currently, there are no state-level protections from excessive rent increases, and there is no place to move a floating home when rents become unaffordable, making floating home owners especially vulnerable. If this is not remedied, residents on low or fixed incomes will be displaced. AB 252 will cap the amount a marina owner can increase berth rent per year to 3% + COLA or 5%, whichever is lower. Berth rent directly affects how much a floating home can sell for or whether it sells at all. Presently, there are no limits on rent increases when a floating home transfers to a new owner, giving marina owners control over both homeowners’ equity and the ability to sell their homes. In one Bay Area marina where berth rents are being doubled, a home fell out of escrow and two others have received no offers because the berth rent is too high. Floating home owners can become trapped by rent so high that their homes become unaffordable to live in and impossible to sell. AB 252 would correct the nearly complete power imbalance between floating homeowners and marina owners. My bill would establish a process to ensure that marina owners can earn a fair return on investment and produce sufficient revenue to cover maintenance and upgrades of their facilities. At the same time it would protect floating homeowners from the threat of unreasonable rent increases that could cause them to lose their homes and/or reduce or eliminate the value of their property.
As sponsor of the bill, Bay Area Floating Homes Association writes:
It is a perilous situation to own your home but not the land (in our case, water) underneath it. It is more perilous still that there is nowhere to go when you can no longer afford the rent. And when the rent goes so high that you cannot afford to stay but you cannot sell, this scary story turns tragic. AB 252 changes that lopsided equation to one where everybody benefits: Marina owners get a fair rate of return and can invest in their properties, floating home owners can stay housed, and California retains a much-needed source of Naturally-Occurring Affordable Housing.
In support, the City of Alameda writes:
Like mobile homeowners, these residents own their homes but rent their berths from Marina owners. Because there are currently no state-level protections from excessive rent increases for floating home berths, floating homeowners are especially vulnerable. There is no place to move a floating home for owners who cannot afford a rent increase or fee hike. If this is not remedied, residents on low or fixed incomes will be displaced.
7. Arguments in opposition to the bill
In opposition to the bill, the Marine Recreation Association writes:
[P]roviding that AB 252 applies only to floating homes, floating home marinas and floating home slips, we do not have any issue with it. […] From a policy perspective, there are approximately 500 floating home slips in the Bay Area and not a single vacancy. […] Thus, there is no place for floating home owners to go if they are forced out of their slip. We understand why they need protection, as illustrated by the issue Alameda City Council intended to address. In the case of recreational marina slips, there are approximately 17,000 slips in the Bay Area of which about 3,000 are vacant. Arguably, the Bay Area has among the highest salt water marina vacancy rates in the country and some of the lowest slip and liveaboard rates. Therefore, unlike floating homes/marinas, there is simply no policy need to “protect” recreational boaters, with or without liveaboard privileges.
8. Proposed amendments
In order to address the concern raised in the arguments in opposition, above, the author proposes to incorporate amendments into the bill that would:
- clarify that the bill only applies to floating homes in floating home berths;
- limit the geographic scope of the bill to Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties.
Bay Area Floating Home Association (sponsor) Alameda Floating Homes Association
American Civil Liberties Union – California Action Marilyn Ashcraft, Mayor, City of Alameda
Center for Environmental Health Floating Home Association, Inc. Harbor Equity Group
Housing and Economic Rights Advocates Janelle Kellman, Mayor, City of Sausalito
Marine Recreation Association
Pending Legislation: None known.
AB 978 (Quirk-Silva, Ch. 125, Stats. 2021) restricted mobilehome parks located in, and governed by, more than one incorporated city from increasing the space rent that mobilehome owners must pay by more than three percent plus inflation, up to a maximum cap of five percent, annually. The bill also extended to tenants renting park- owned mobilehomes the same protections against arbitrary eviction and rent-gouging that tenants in other types of residential rental housing possess.
AB 3088 (Chiu, Ch. 37, Stats. 2020) among other things, made technical and clarifying modifications to the statewide just cause for eviction and anti-rent gouging laws enacted last year pursuant to AB 1482, below. Specifically, the bill: (1) laid out how inflation should be calculated when determining permissible rent increases; (2) clarified application of the law to properties containing two housing units; (3) aligned definitions; (4) corrected erroneous cross-references; and (5) clarified the scope of laws with which a housing provider must demonstrate compliance before establishing new rental rates after the expiration of affordability covenants.
AB 1482 (Chiu, Ch. 597, Stats. 2019) limited rent-gouging in California by placing an upper limit on annual rent increases: five percent plus inflation up to a hard cap of 10 percent. To prevent landlords from engaging in rent-gouging by evicting tenants, the bill also required that a landlord have and state a just cause, as specified, in order to evict tenants who have occupied the premises for more than 12 months. Both the rent cap and the just cause provisions are subject to exemptions including, among others: housing built in the past 15 years and single family residences unless owned by a real estate trust or a corporation. AB 1482 sunsets after ten years and does not preempt any local rent control ordinances.
AB 3139 (Filante, Ch. 1505, Stats. 1990) established the Floating Home Residency Law.
As this bill was gutted and amended on June 14, 2022, all prior votes are irrelevant.
50th Anniversary MRA Educational Conference & Trade Show
in partnership with CAHMPC New Website is Up and Ready for You to Register!
We are excited to announce that our Conference website is up and running! This year’s conference will be held at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort on October 18 – 20, 2022 in partnership with the California Association of Harbor Masters and Port Captains.
The 50th Anniversary MRA Educational Conference theme is "Creating a Sustainable Future", reflecting the marine industry’s progression into a new world of possibilities and potential. By focusing our passion and people on shared purposes we can all create a steady path to successfully navigate the challenges ahead.
This year's Conference will feature a broad prospectus of industry experts and information covering key marine industry management, operations, and marketing concerns, focused on team building and improving guest services and operations to enhance customer satisfaction while meeting the challenges of regulatory compliance and optimizing fiscal results. The marine Trade Show will feature the latest technology, products, and services from leading industry vendors and contractors focused on industry growth and profitability. The three-day event will provide all participants with the ideal opportunity to network with other industry professionals and share effective strategies for successfully dealing with an ever-evolving business environment.
Pre-Conference events include the 27th Annual Golf Tournament, 8th Annual Marina and Boatyard Tour to Ventura Harbor and the Marine Operations seminars covering an interactive “Digital Marketing Management Workshop” and an overview of the recently revised MRA Wharfage / Lease Agreement with attorney Phil Weiss discussing this critically important legal consideration for all marina operators.
The new conference website configuration is a little different than the past but should be easier to navigate. The “Home” page has all the information on the hotel and preconference events while the Schedule of Events, Speakers and Registration pages are fairly the same.
Click below to register. See you in Santa Barbara!
California Boater Card Enforcement
This bulletin serves as a notification regarding the requirement of motorized vessel operators to obtain and possess a California Boater Card. The law became effective Jan. 1, 2018.
The law, which is being phased in by age, prohibits the operation of a vessel that is propelled by an engine on the waters of the state except by a person who is in possession of a valid vessel operator card, referred to as the California Boater Card, developed and issued by the California Department of Parks and Recreation Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). Certain persons are exempt from the requirement, as specified by law. Violation of the law’s provisions is an infraction and requires a court to order a person who violates those provisions to complete and pass a boating safety course approved by DBW.
As of Jan. 1, 2022, all boat operators 45 years of age or younger are required to be in possession of a valid California Boater Card when operating a motorized vessel on a California waterway. By 2025, all operators of motorized vessels will be required to have a California Boater Card. The full phase in schedule can be found below.
To obtain a California Boater Card, a boat operator must successfully complete an approved boating safety education course, pass the course exam and apply for the card through DBW. The cost of the lifetime card is $10, and all the money goes toward operating the California Boater Card program. Once issued, the California Boater Card remains valid for an operator’s lifetime. Boating Safety education courses must be approved by the State of California and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. For a complete list of approved courses, please visit CaliforniaBoaterCard.com.
Initially, DBW took an educational approach on the requirement of the new law. To date, the program has issued approximately 132,000 cards. DBW is recommending that officers begin to cite all vessel operators who are not in compliance under the law when stopped due to violation of other laws or any negligent operation. In addition, DBW requests officers remind all vessel operators that obtaining the boater card is not an option, it is the law and it will be strictly enforced. All operators can be directed to CaliforniaBoaterCard.com to apply for a card and learn more information about the law.
California Boater Card Statutory information below:
Harbors and Navigation Code § 678 (add) – Vessel Operators’ Education and Certification Cards.
678. (a) On or before January 1, 2018, the division shall develop a vessel operator card to be issued pursuant to this article.
(b) The division shall issue, or cause to be issued, a vessel operator card to a person who provides the division with proof that the person has passed a vessel operator examination approved by the division or a vessel operator course that includes an examination and is approved by the division pursuant to Section 668.1 or 668.3.
(c) A vessel operator card shall be valid for the life of the person to whom it is issued.
678.11 (a) Subject to the schedule in subdivision (b), a person shall not operate on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the state a vessel that is propelled by an engine, regardless of whether the engine is the principal source of propulsion, unless the person has in his or her possession a vessel operator card issued by the division pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 678.
(b) A person is subject to subdivision (a) according to the following schedule:
(1) On and after January 1, 2018: A person 20 years of age or younger.
(2) On and after January 1, 2019: A person 25 years of age or younger.
(3) On and after January 1, 2020: A person 35 years of age or younger.
(4) On and after January 1, 2021: A person 40 years of age or younger.
(5) On and after January 1, 2022: A person 45 years of age or younger.
(6) On and after January 1, 2023: A person 50 years of age or younger.
(7) On and after January 1, 2024: A person 60 years of age or younger.
(8) On and after January 1, 2025: All persons, regardless of age.
(c) This section does not apply to any of the following:
(1) A person who is a resident of another state or a foreign country who is operating a vessel and meets either of the following requirements:
(A) The person is temporarily using the waters of this state for a period not to exceed 60 days, and meets the applicable requirements, if any, of his or her state of residency.
(B) The person is temporarily using the waters of this state for a period not to exceed 90 days, and meets the applicable requirements, if any, of his or her country of residency.
(2) A person operating a vessel while under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who is in possession of a vessel operator card issued pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 678 or who is not required to possess a vessel operator card pursuant to paragraph (6).
(3) A person operating a vessel in an organized regatta or vessel race, or water ski race.
(4) A person operating a rental vessel.
(5) A person who is in possession of a current commercial fishing license.
(6) A person who is in possession of a valid marine operator license, for the waters upon which the licensee is operating, issued by the United States Coast Guard, or who is in possession of a valid certificate issued pursuant to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.
(7) A person who has successfully completed a boating course approved by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Division of Boating and Waterways Offers
Boating Infrastructure Grants for Marina Operators
California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways is now accepting applications from public and private marina owners for federal Boating Infrastructure Grants (BIG). For 2023, a total of $14 million is available for BIG projects nationally. Applications will be accepted through Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) - Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, BIG is a competitive program open to both publicly and privately owned marinas to renovate or construct visitor docks, restrooms, gangways, and dockside utility hook-ups for transient recreational boats 26 feet or greater in length.
The program provides the following resources to the recreational boating community:
- Enhance access to recreational, historic, cultural, and scenic resources.
- Strengthen community ties to water’s edge and economic benefits.
- Promote public/private partnerships and entrepreneurial opportunities.
- Provide continuity of public access to the shore.
- Promote awareness of transient boating opportunities.
Interested applicants should first review the federal guidelines and application instructions to determine if they meet the necessary requirements. Grants are available to qualifying projects on a competitive basis. The USFWS ranks and scores grant requests according to need, access, cost efficiency, matching funds, and innovations that improve user access to the waterways.
The Division of Boating and Waterways, as the pass-through entity for the grant application process, reviews each application and sends the most eligible projects to the USFWS to compete against applicants from other states and territories. If awarded a USFWS grant, the division will manage the project through completion to ensure it meets federal requirements.
Marina operators eligible to compete in this program can receive an application packet by contacting Ethan Tratner at email@example.com or (916) 902-8823.
Sea Grant Announces Funding Opportunities to Support
Community-Engaged Marine Debris Removal and Prevention
Sea Grant announces $19 million in federal funding opportunities to address the prevention and removal of marine debris.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $50 million over five years to Sea Grant to support marine debris prevention and removal. The two funding opportunities represent funding for the first two fiscal years of this appropriation (FY 2022 and 2023). Sea Grant’s funding opportunities include:
· Marine Debris Challenge Competition (click for details): Approximately $16,000,000 will be available to support innovative research to application projects that will address the prevention and removal of marine debris.
Letters of intent and applications for both opportunities must be submitted through a Sea Grant Program and interested partners should contact a Sea Grant Program.
Both opportunities encourage applicants and awardees to support the principles of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility when writing their proposals and performing their work. The work completed under these opportunities will place an emphasis on engagement with communities, groups and localities, especially those that have been traditionally underrepresented and underserved.
To learn more about these opportunities, Sea Grant invites you to join an informational webinar on July 12, 2022 at 4:30 pm ET (register here).
Sea Grant’s funding opportunities complement a $56 million funding opportunity from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program that will fund large scale marine debris removal and interception projects. To learn more about the Marine Debris Removal Grants, please join an informational webinar on July 14 at 4:00 pm ET.
Additional funding opportunities from NOAA through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act include: Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants, Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Underserved Communities, Coastal Zone Management Habitat Protection and Restoration Grants, and National Estuarine Research Reserve System Habitat Protection and Restoration Grants.
BoatUS Consumer Alert: Be Wary of Any Letter Arriving by U.S. Mail Offering U.S. Coast Guard Documentation Renewal
Official-looking vessel documentation renewal notices can lead to confusion and higher costs
BoatUS advises that while the Coast Guard does send official annual renewal notices by U.S. mail, other notices being received by BoatUS members are not from the Coast Guard but rather third-party companies whose name or return addresses may appear similar to that of the official U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).
BoatUS members have complained that these letters direct them to websites that may be mistaken for the actual Coast Guard NVDC located in Falling Waters, West Virginia, and appear to show a significant increase in the annual fee to renew Coast Guard documentation.
“The NVDC is aware that there are commercial entities that offer to manage the certification/renewal process on behalf of vessel owners for a fee. The Coast Guard does not endorse any of these companies, and the companies do not operate on behalf of the Coast Guard in any way. Any fees charged or agreements offered by such companies are in no way associated with the NVDC certification process. In addition, these companies are not authorized to issue any form of documentation, including travel letters and/or permits that authorize operation of ANY vessel. Customer complaints can be made through the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) website at https://www.ftc.gov/.”
To renew, go to the Coast Guard National Documentation Center website at https://www.uscg.mil/nvdc and click on “instructions and forms,” then “Certificate of Documentation Application for Renewal.”
To be documented, a vessel must measure at least five net tons and, with the exception of certain oil-spill response vessels, owned by a U.S. citizen. Boats about 27 feet in length or longer generally meet the weight requirement.
Why do boat owners choose to federally document vessels with the U.S. Coast Guard versus the more common practice of state registration? The boat was purchased with a bank loan and the lender required it, or the boat has plans to travel beyond U.S. waters. A Certificate of Documentation is internationally recognized and makes it easier for American vessels to enter and leave foreign ports.
BoatUS also advises boaters who may have received mail that they believe is misleading or deceptive to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or through its website https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov.
BoatUS warns boaters to be wary of letters arriving offering US Coast Guard documentation renewal https://bit.ly/3kxSYlP #uscgdocumentation
About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):
Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group with more than 800,000 dues-paying members. BoatUS is the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill, fighting for their rights. On the water when boats break down or run aground, our 600+ vessel, 300+ location nationwide TowBoatUS® fleet brings our members safely back to the launch ramp, marina or dock, and on the road, we are The Boat Owners Auto Club™ to help ensure a roadside trailer and tow vehicle breakdown won’t slow you down. BoatUS offers GEICO boat insurance policies that give boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. BoatUS Magazine is the largest circulation recreational marine publication in the US with engaging content that speaks to the passion for boat ownership while our 501(c)(3) nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water offers the nation’s only free online boating safety course and many other programs that keep boaters safe and our waters clean. Visit BoatUS.com.
Newport Marina | Bellingham Marine
The privately-owned Bayshore Apartments and Newport Marina are located in lower Newport Bay adjacent to iconic Pacific Coast Highway. At the beginning of this year, Bellingham Marine began the project to replace the entire marina, and within just three and a half months, the new marina construction was substantially complete.
The owners of this marina wanted to replace this aging marina as quickly as possible, increase the slip count where possible, and build a marina that would last well into the foreseeable future. This new state-of-the art concrete Unifloat marina includes a total of a total of 50 slips ranging from 22 to 62 feet long, with FRP (fiber reinforced polymer) thru-rods, rounded finger ends, and a composite decking overlay which provides a nautical look with the structural benefits of concrete Unifloat underneath.
BMI incorporated a couple unique features to maximize the available slip space in this marina. Due to the amount of space required for a full 80-foot ADA gangway, an alternative system was developed. The custom system of gangways was designed to adjust with the tide. Each of the two 40-foot gangways meet at a central platform to maintain a constant ADA-compliant slope. In addition to the gangway system, the unique herringbone configuration maximizes the vessel capacity of the marina while maintaining comfortable vessel operating access.
As the general contractor, BMI handed all aspects of the project including permitting, engineering, design work, demolition, pile driving, electrical, and plumbing. Southern California Edison installed a new transformer, and BMI’s in-house electrical team installed new equipment to support the new marina, the existing marina office, as well as expanded service for future landside electric vehicle chargers. The increased power requirements for the marina support 240v service to each slip, which will accommodate higher speed electric vessel charging in the future.
In conjunction with BMI’s work, the owner contracted with landside contractors who completed utility work and parking lot grading improvements to support the new marina. Not only will the new state-of-the-art marina support the current demand, but it will last for decades to come, serving gas-powered and electric vessels well into the future.
New Website Offers Guidance for California Ports, Marinas on Treated Wood Disposal
Thank you MRA for your support and help with the passage of Assembly Bill 332 (Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Chapter 147, Statute of 2021).
In accordance with Health and Safety Code Section 25230.15, Western Wood Preservers Institute developed a new website with resources on appropriate handling, storage, labeling, transport, notifications, recordkeeping, reuse, and disposal.
Ports, docks and marinas in California that need to dispose of treated wood waste, or TWW, now have a new online resource to help them stay in compliance with state regulations for proper disposal.
The website TWWDisposal.org provides important information on disposal, including a list of approved state landfills that will accept the wood waste.
For more than three decades, California has maintained alternative management standards that authorize TWW to be disposed in composite-lined sections of landfills. In early 2021, those standards expired, creating significant difficulties in disposing treated wood, as disposal was only permitted in a single hazardous waste landfill operating in the state.
California legislators last fall passed a bill to reinstate the alternative management standards and allow TWW disposal in more than 50 landfills throughout the state. As part of the legislation, the wood treating industry agreed to assist in educating Californians on proper TWW disposal.
Port and maritime facilities have traditionally used preservative-treated wood for pilings, docks, piers and boardwalks. This wood is well suited to take on the harsh conditions of a marine environment.
The new website includes sections on how to identify TWW as well as handling, storage, labeling and transportation requirements. There are also links to the state Water Resources Control Board, which maintains a list of landfills and disposal facilities that are authorized to accept TWW.
Go to TWWDispoal.org to explore the regulations and recommendations for proper disposal.
With Marine Recreation Association being the largest professional organization of marina, boatyard, hospitality, and other marine industry owners and operators located throughout the western United States with additional members in Canada, Mexico, and Australia, our mission is to provide a united voice in representing the interests of the boating industry, and to help educate and inform in all areas of recreational boating. MRA would like to welcome the following companies to our association:
Hawser Marine Insurance Services
The Last Word
To all of our MRA Members and Future Members
Register by August 1, 2022 and save for the 50th Annual MRA Educational Conference and Trade Show in partnership with CAHMPC on October 18 – 20, 2022 at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. This year’s theme is Creating a Sustainable Future. Information is available at: https://marina.swoogo.com/conferenceandtradeshow
To our members, the website now requires an additional step when signing in. You will be prompted to provide confidential answers to questions before performing any other actions on the website. This will involve choosing four of nine possible questions to provide answers to. Once the questions and answers are set, you will then be able to proceed on the website as normal.
To our trade members, please send me your press releases on new products or services you might have. The Trade Member Highlight section is a free opportunity to advertise them! I am reaching out to all of you and asking you to send me a press release when you have a new product or service that you would like for us to highlight. There will be one each month and will be placed according to submission date. This is one more way for us to promote your support and dedication to the association. We would also like to be included in your list of press release recipients.
Many times the contact name for membership changes during the year and unless it is around renewal time, we may not be aware of the change. Please take a look at your profile and make sure to let us know if there are any changes in contact names, addresses, phone and fax numbers or email addresses so we can have the most up-to-date information for you. Also, if you do not have at least 1 logo and 1 photo (of your marina or product) please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can be uploaded. You can now also add a YouTube video if you have one.
Thank you and stay safe!