San Francisco Rules and Regulations Presentation 1-17-2012

Walter K. “Tim” Timpson, Jr. CMM

MarinaResource, LLC

16761 130th Way North

Jupiter, FL  33478

                                      (561) 744-7832 Off

    (561) 951-7832 Cell


January 16, 2012

The following report is an assessment of the current Marina Rules & Regulations in place at the San Francisco Small Craft Yacht Harbor managed by the City and County of San Francisco Recreation & Park Department.  The assessment is conducted based on the marina industry best management practices and industry norms, as referenced by the Marina Manual 2nd Edition, a benchmark document designed for marina operators. Multiple documents have been provided for my review inclusive of: (1) current SF Marina Rules & Regulations; (2) two examples of local San Francisco Bay area marina rules and regulations (Sausalito and South Beach).  Below is a summary of findings and recommendations for consideration; I would strongly recommend that the liability exposure issues be immediately addressed. 


Based on discussions with Mr. John Moren, San Francisco Harbor Master, it appears that former Harbor Masters have taken a path of least resistance in regard to marina management; specifically, the business relationship maintained between theMarinaand the boat Owners. Since the Marina’s West Basin is undergoing a major renovation, it would be a prime opportunity to create a business environment, which protects the investments of the City of San Francisco and those of responsible boat Owners in the Marina. My recommendation to create more effective business practices at the Marina is best envisioned through the consistent application and enforcement of rules and regulations that follow marina industry best management practices.


Berthing Licenses

The berthing license should be created as a contract between the Marina, as a function of the City ofSan Francisco, and the Owner, for the use of a designated vessel, identified by hull number, registration etc. Berthing licenses and any other type of contracts pertaining to provision of services at the Marina, access and berthing allowances should only be issued by authorized City Marina personnel, who have authority to enter into a contract for a public asset.  Below is a brief listing of issues, which I highly recommend to be included in any future berthing licenses:

  • Subletting

Owners cannot execute agreements with others to use the slip of a public or private marina. Also, theMarinashould reserve the right to use the slip in the absence of Owner’s vessel. Allowing sub-leasing of slips by bertholders places them in the position of controlling outcomes for the Marina and significantly increases the liability exposure to the City and the Recreation & Parks Department.  

Most importantly, allowing subletting can be considered leasing of public goods and deriving personal gain by income generated thru the subletting of a public asset.  Allowing subletting significantly compromises the ability to professionally manage the marina.  It creates an unnecessary risk and liability exposure. For instance, Marina personnel have no contract with a Sublette as such any ability to enforce Marina Rules & Regulations.  In addition, there is no information on record about the Sublette, such as contact and emergency information; accurate identification data for the vessel; authorized users, etc. Furthermore, the current San Francisco Marina Rules & Regulations lack language and references to prohibit a Sublette to sublease the slip, yet again to an unknown individual. 

The subletting practice should be ceased immediately.  I feel this is where the greatest liability lies. 

  • Transfer of Berthing Licenses

For the same reasons stated above in the Subletting section of this report, it is critical that the transfer of berthing licenses not be allowed.  The berthing license should not be transferable with the sale of a private vessel, as it is public property.  Again, these types of occurrences may be in direct violation with the State of California’s agreement with the City for the management of the Marina, specifically deriving of personal gain by the income generated thru the transfer of a berth with the sale of a private vessel.

  • Term of Berthing Licenses

Berthing licenses should only be executed on an annual, seasonal or daily basis.  Berthing licenses are not made in excess of one year in duration and are not automatically renewing. The ability to berth at a marina should be based on the boat owner’s ability to follow rules and regulations, which should be evaluated on an annual basis.  At the end of the annual contract, Marina personnel must conduct an evaluation of the berthing license and other compliancy considerations, inclusive of a full inspection of the vessel and confirmation of the vessel’s current length. An automatic renewal severely hampers the ability to ensure compliance of Federal and State regulations. The term “permanent” used in some of the documents should be removed in all instances.

Vessel Considerations

All vessels must be maintained at levels dictated by the United States Coast Guard and the State ofCaliforniastandards. Vessel examinations or inspections should be required annually with berthing license renewals or more often at the discretion of the Marina management. All vessels must be maintained is such a manner that they operate under their own power, and can be removed quickly from the slip in the case of fire or other emergency.

Dock Modifications

No modifications of Dock Structures are to be permitted without written consent of Marina management. TheMarina, at its discretion, can equip a portion of the facility with boat lifts which are owned and installed by theMarinaand leased to the Berth Holder.  This type of system works best with fixed docks rather than floating because of load considerations. Owners cannot implement these types of modifications themselves, as it creates significant liability exposure and may compromise the physical structure, as well as often times, create significant safety hazards. I highly recommend to immediately ceasing this practice.  

Bottom Paint Issues

The State of California has implemented some of the most stringent standards in the U.S.A. on the use of copper and tributyl tin based bottom paints. As such, vessels require bottom cleaning more often than ever before, at increased expense to the Owners.

Owners, left to their own means, have taken it upon themselves to come up with solutions to save money wherever possible. These cost reducing strategies include the use of constructed basins under the boats, which are filled with fresh water with the suspected addition of other chemicals, which certainly are not in accordance with the intent of the statutes, and may represent greater violations.

Similarly, Owners are constructing homemade lift structures to lift their hulls out of the water. Basically, in these situations, the Owners have no intent for their vessels to leave the slip for recreational use, making it more of a fixed residential structure.  These fixes should not be allowed at any time.  A more sensible approach would be to work with regulatory agencies to come up with environmental solutions that work.  A better alternative is to provide a hull cleaning program service on site.


It is the responsibility of the Owner to secure insurance for his/her vessel covering hull replacement and liability.Hullvalue must be based on Blue Book or similar reference document for the marine industry. The amount of liability coverage can vary based on size of the boat, with $300,000 for the smallest vessels. TheMarinamust be named as additionally insured, insuring that theMarinawill be notified in the event the insurance is cancelled after executing the contract. Requesting oil spill insurance coverage is also highly advisable.

Live Aboards

Boating use varies greatly from region to region. Boats can represent a weekend getaway, a vehicle for fishing, skiing or diving, a seasonal migratory vehicle in the case of theAtlantic Intracoastal Waterwayon the East Coast, and in some extreme cases, a full time residence.

Full time live aboards have become an issue for marinas across the country. They greatly increase loads on Infrastructure (Parking, pedestrian traffic, Emergency access, etc.) and also Utilities (electricity for common areas and on board, sanitation, trash removal, potable water, internet, telephone, TV, etc.). Supervisory responsibilities and costs are also increased by having live aboards on site. Studies have proven that live aboards adversely impact the marina and marine environment.  In addition, many live aboards discharge overboard black water, which is detrimental to sea life.

I would highly recommend that the reference in your current Rules and Regulation of a 72-hours in a one week period be completely deleted and incorporate a reference of “no live aboard allowed”.  Also, strong monitoring by Marina staff is required in order to ensure compliance in this area.

Legal Clauses

The following is a listing of recommended terms to be included in legal clauses of Marina Rules and Regulations.

  • Owner acknowledges responsibility for actions of his guests, family, crew and contractors.
  • Owner agrees to a Waiver of Subrogation
  • Owner agrees to waive the Limit of Liability Act of 1855.
  • Owner acknowledges that the address for the Owner shown in the berthing license will be the point of contact for all official communications. Notices of violation, requests etc. will be set to this address by certified mail. It is the responsibility of the Owner to make sure this is kept up to date.
  • Notification of Violation should be issued by certified mail to address of record, and the structure of termination, refund if any, removal of vessel, etc. should be carefully spelled out.
  • In the event of Emergency,Marinapersonnel may perform services at Owner’s expense at rates which exceed normal hourly rates.


The best remedies for collection of past due fees are generally local or state in nature. In the event collections are sub-contracted out, “Reasonable costs of Collection” should be included in these clauses. A clause acknowledging a Maritime Lien for collection should be incorporated. This is a federal statute, and is more costly and cumbersome, but presents another remedy to collect.


All subcontractors performing repairs onMarinaproperty must check in first at theMarinaoffice. They must have Liability Insurance coverage, and must also either have Workman’s Comp coverage, or in the case of individuals execute a Waiver of Workmen’s Compensation with theMarina. Subcontractors are only allowed onMarinaproperty during normal business hours. Activities such as spray painting, grinding and others which create airborne residue are not permitted onMarinapremises. Repairs which create unreasonable noise or disturbance are also not permitted.