Harbors and Navigation Code – HNC § 525

HNC § 525. Abandonment of vessel

(a) Except for the urgent and immediate concern for the safety of those aboard a vessel, a person shall not abandon a vessel upon a public waterway or public or private property without the express or implied consent of the owner or person in lawful possession or control of the property.

(b) The abandonment of a vessel in a manner as provided in subdivision (a) is prima facie evidence that the last registered owner of record, not having notified the appropriate registration or documenting agency of any relinquishment of title or interest therein, is responsible for the abandonment and is thereby liable for the cost of the removal and disposition of the vessel.

(c) A violation of this section is an infraction and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), nor more than three thousand dollars ($3,000).  In addition, the court may order the defendant to pay to the agency that removes and disposes of the vessel the actual costs incurred by the agency for that removal and disposition.

(d) Fines imposed and collected pursuant to this section shall be allocated as follows:


(A) Eighty percent of the moneys shall be deposited in the Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund, which is hereby created as a special fund.  Moneys in the fund shall be used exclusively, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for grants to be awarded by the department to local agencies for the abatement, removal, storage, and disposal as public nuisances of any abandoned property as described in Section 522 or for the disposal of surrendered vessels as defined in Section 526.1 , wrecked or dismantled vessels, or parts thereof, or any other partially submerged objects that pose a substantial hazard to navigation, from navigable waterways or adjacent public property, or private property with the landowner’s consent.  These grants shall not be utilized for abatement, removal, storage, or disposal of commercial vessels.

(B) In evaluating a grant request submitted by a local agency pursuant to subparagraph (A), the department shall place great weight on the following two factors:

(i) The existence of an active local enforcement program to control and prevent the abandonment of watercraft within the local agency’s jurisdiction.

(ii) The existence of a submerged navigational hazard abatement plan at the local level that provides for the control or abatement of water hazards, including, but not limited to, abandoned watercraft, wrecked watercraft, hazardous floating debris, submerged vessels and objects, and abandoned piers and pilings.

(C) A grant awarded by the department pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be matched by a 10-percent contribution from the local agency receiving the grant.

(D) As a condition of receiving grant funding pursuant to this paragraph, a local agency shall report to the department data, as deemed appropriate by the department, regarding abandoned and surrendered vessels removed or anticipated for removal pursuant to this article.

(2) Twenty percent shall be allocated as set forth in Section 1463.001 of the Penal Code .

(e) The state shall not assume liability for any injuries or damages to a person or entity, public or private, connected to or resulting from the processing or disposal of a surrendered vessel, as defined in Section 526.1 .

(f) The department may adopt rules and regulations for the purpose of administering this section.