California boating department folded into state agency

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In an effort to cut costs and reduce redundancies in government agencies, the California Department of Boating and Waterways is now part of the Parks and Recreation Department.

However, after an outcry from boating organizations, the boating department’s commission will be preserved, thanks to Assembly Bill 737, authored by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon, and signed into law July 5 by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to an article at Marina del Rey (Calif.) Patch.

The boating department provides grants for boating, law enforcement and marina construction throughout the state, and opponents of the integration with the Parks and Recreation Department feared a loss of services to California recreational boaters.

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 the Department of Boating and Waterways, according to county documents.

The department is primarily funded through boating registration fees and gasoline taxes on boat fuel and generates about $69 million a year. These funds will now be included in Parks and Recreation’s budget and could be allocated for non-boating-related issues.

However, AB 737, in addition to saving the Boating Commission, also includes a provision that will guarantee one seat on the Parks and Recreation Commission to a representative of recreational boaters in California.

Under the new law, boating commissioners will no longer have the authority to dictate how boating loans and grants are disbursed throughout California.

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