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 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.