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California Relaxes Regulation on Superyachts

26oct2012calrelaxesregsyachtingnews26 October, 2012, California: Anyone over about 50 years old who has visited Los Angeles will probably remember the huge smog banks the regularly put the city under a gray pall. In the 1970`s however, Governor Jerry Brown began a campaign to clean the state up by forcing through some of the toughest environmental regulations in the world. While the effort has been for the most part successful, it has also caused problems for many industries that really do not contribute to pollution levels on a large scale. The superyachting community has been, for some reason, one of the hardest hit.

The good news is that the State of California, like many US states, is struggling financially and has decided, coincidentally just in time for the 2013 America’s cup finals, to scale back some of the regulations that have plagued cruisers and charter companies for decades. The legislative efforts are being led by a group of San Diego business persons who want to encourage cruising superyachts to come back to California’s Golden Coast. According to Todd Roberts of the San Diego refit and repair yard of Marine Group Boat Works and the beautiful Fifth Avenue Landing Marina the costs of the reporting requirements has caused many vessels to avoid the area, which significantly harms local economies, many of which are based at lease in part to the marine industry.

State Assembly Bill 2005 however could easily change this dynamic. The Bill makes significant alterations to the Lempert-keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act as it is applied to non-commercial vessels over 3,000 gross tons. Governor Jerry Brown signed the Bill into law on 26 September and Roberts and his coalition immediately petitioned the state’s legislators in Washington, D.C. to relax the regulations for at least seven months and at least one Assemblyman, Martin Garrick, is supporting the effort. Roberts said in a statement to Superyacht News that “The Bill refers to an oil spill prevention and response plan for vessels that quite frankly has no use and has no merit,. Our argument is that there is a duplication element to a lot of the information being requested. Most of the superyachts will already have the necessary paperwork, plans and provisions in place but unfortunately the state of California wants it presented in different form. What the 14-day period does is allow the yacht to present its evidence at the dock directly to an official rather than over the internet before arriving.”

This is an issue, according to Roberts, that affects not only California but the entire nation as well. He has complained however about the lack of industry support and hopes that more businesses, yacht owners and charters get on board. The Fifth Avenue Marina is usually booked solid for months in advance and for weeks after the America’s cup and San Diego is several hundred miles from the races themselves, which demontrates the value of this market.