Status Quo for RBRA

RBRA monitors anchor-out vessels like this one | photo by Teddie Hathaway | post by Court Mast and Larry Clinton

At their April meeting, the Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency (RBRA) decided on the general direction in dealing with the anchor-out vessels in Richardson’s Bay. Previously, they had delineated four possible options to choose from:

Option #1) Enforce existing time limits on all vessels

Option #2)  Manage vessels arriving in Richardson’s Bay

Option #3)  Modify requirements for vessels in Richardson’s Bay

Option #4)  Eliminate the anchorage

The RBRA Board unanimously chose Option #3, which, in essence, calls for a permanent mooring field in Richardson’s Bay—a concept which was quashed several years ago by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Option #3  also allows the anchor-outs to stay indefinitely and does not stop new arrivals. It outlines certain guidelines the boats are supposed to follow but does not specify any remedies or fines for non-compliance. It even includes possible public/private financing to pay for anchor-outs’ new mooring ground-tackle. So, it’s business as usual, but now with the RBRA’s stamp of approval.

Below is the full text of Option 3, as approved by the RBRA Board:

Option #3: Direction to modify requirements for vessels in Richardson’s Bay Direction Options:

Place requirements on vessels, such as:

  1. Valid registration with the State of California; this requirement was identified in 2016 under the enhanced enforcement program adopted by the Board.
  2. Registration with the Harbor Administrator; specific information required to be determined.
  3. Vessels to be securely moored rather than anchored; will require public and/or private funding for moorings at approximately up to $2,000/each (depending on number installed at a time), and analysis and determination on where moorings may or shall be located. This option seeks to address concerns about safety and eelgrass; specifically, to prevent vessels from breaking loose from less stable anchor lines, and to prevent dragging of anchors in eelgrass beds. It could also assist in monitoring the arrival of new vessels.
  4. Vessels must be seaworthy, criteria to be determined/established. This option seeks to address concerns about safety to persons and property from anchored vessels that break loose, and environmental and financial impacts ─as well as health and safety risks─from vessels that leak oil/hazardous materials, or sink. The Richardson’s Bay Special Anchorage Association has developed seaworthy criteria and a certification program that could aid implementation.
  5. [Vessels] are free of debris/excess materials on the exterior deck; will require monitoring. This option seeks to address concerns about water quality, debris in the bay, safety, and interference with recreational boating.
  6. No sewage, or other polluting substance, material or debris discharge into the bay; will require monitoring and support from persons on the bay to encourage others to comply. This option seeks to address concerns about water quality, the environment, and recreational boating.
  7. Options for other regulation modifications now or in the future could include:
  8. Maximum number of dinghies/skiffs per vessel
  9. Maximum number of vessels per owner
  10. Maximum number of vessels and/or modified length of stay in anchorage

These options would involve a fair amount of discussion and discernment. They seek to address concerns about the number of vessels, recreational boating and docking access, and other issues.

Depending on the option(s) the Board wishes to pursue, amendments to RBRA ordinances and/or other plans and policies may be required.

The advantages of modifying regulations are moving towards improved safety, eelgrass/herring habitat, water quality, and management. Modifications are a means of prioritizing health, safety, water quality/environmental, management, and other concerns while working with owners and persons living on the water to transition to healthy and safe conditions for themselves and others. It would involve processes in establishing, implementing and refining modifications that included stakeholders.

The disadvantages are the resources needed to draft, vet and approve modified regulations, implement the transition to secure moorings and other new regulations, and enforce against non-complying vessels comparable to what is described in Option #1 – although at a reduced level; any impacts on the bay and/or shore facilities from continued extended stay use; and impacts to vessel owners/inhabitants who are unwilling or unable to comply.