San Joaquin to go after boats used as homes

STOCKTON -- San Joaquin County supervisors moved Tuesday toward preventing extended stays on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Contra Costa County enacted requirements on vessels two years ago. Since then, authorities and boaters contend, floating homes of questionable condition have sailed into San Joaquin County and could be dumping chemicals and raw sewage into the water.

"What we're trying to do, in effect, is to prevent San Joaquin County from becoming a safe zone for boats that are derelict," sheriff's Lt. David Souza told supervisors Tuesday.

They set Jan. 8 for a vote on a proposed ordinance.

It sets a 30-day maximum stay on habitable boats and 15 days on those without approved living quarters. It also requires those sleeping on their boats to show proof they are properly disposing of human waste, either by treating it before flushing it into the delta or by dumping tanks at authorized disposal services. In addition, it sets standards for habitable boats.

Marina owner: 'We aren't law enforcement'

Marina owner Richard Dunn said he had no problem with the regulations but criticized a provision that would make property owners responsible for offending boat owners at their docks.

"We are on board with everything," Dunn said. "We have a huge problem keeping track of boats but we aren't law enforcement, and we can't assure everyone is complying with the law."

Sheriff Steve Moore maintained that ma-rina owners won't be required to patrol their docks, but only to cooperate with law enforcement officers when a violation comes to their attention.

Most boaters and marina owners voiced support for the regulations during a series of community meetings, Souza said.

Mike Stefani, commodore of the Stockton Sailing Club, has been a boater all his life on the delta and said he sees a growing number of boaters living for cheap on the water rather than at a marina, where they likely would be required to carry insurance.

"A lot of these are barely licensed for $10 to $20 a year, and they aren't insured," Stefani, 57, said. "There's no requirement that to be licensed you have to be insured, but one of the things about insurance is that most of the time, to get insurance, you have to have a survey done at a dry dock and a surveyor walks under the boat and inspects for problems."

Souza said the bottom line is to create a better environment. "Hopefully, this ordinance will preserve the delta as a resource for future generations," he said.

To comment, click on the link with this story atwww.modbee.com. Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached atimiller@modbee.com or 578-2324.