Liability Immunity Legislation AB 634 by Assemblywoman Diane Harkey

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Posted by California Ships to Reefs on March 14, 2009 at 14:13:30:


This bill will immunize the State of California, Counties, Cities, Harbor Districts and other government entities from liability for injuries suffered by persons SCUBA diving on artificial reefs placed or created in cooperation with the State or a political subdivision and operated by a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation. SCUBA diving is added to a list of hazardous recreational activities in which members of the public engage, at their own risk, on public property. Divers acknowledge the hazardous nature of SCUBA diving every time they dive through the signing of liability waivers for air fills and on dive charter boats.

Generally, a person diving on one of the reefs which California Ships to Reefs is seeking to place will, as is done in Florida, purchase a dive tag (permit) and sign a liability waiver on the dive charter boat or at the dive store local to the reef. The fees from these tags will be used to maintain the necessary Aids to Navigation and mooring buoys for the reef and to offset training and other costs which for first responder agencies local to each reef. This legislation is designed to do legislatively what liability waivers do voluntarily.

Below is a sample of a support letter for this bill. You should put it in your own language as form letters do not carry nearly the weight of an original. Support letters should go to Assemblywoman Diane Harkey immediately. Once the bill is assigned to a committee, a second letter should go to the Chair and each member of that committee. When the bill gets to the floor, a letter should go to each and every Assembly Member, especially YOUR’s. We will need your help in exactly the same way with the State Senate and the Governor.

If you are writing on behalf of an organization, put your letter on letterhead and sign with your title. Please forward a copy of your letter to me at Reef_Dev@CaliforniaShipstoReefs.org.


/s/ Dean A. Rewerts

VP, Reef Development

Honorable Diane Harkey

California State Assembly

State Capital, Room 4177

Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: AB 634, Relating to Liability – Support

Dear Assemblywoman Harkey,

(I/Organization) Support(s) AB 634.

This bill will encourage the State of California and local ports to allow and support the placement of artificial reefs in their jurisdictions. The State of California and local governments need this bill so they can participate in this important movement to restore sustainable economies to California’s historic ports and add or restore some of the habitat which has been lost in the ocean environment.

SCUBA diving is recognized as an inherently dangerous activity and divers are accustomed to signing liability waivers for every phase of diving. Entering (penetrating) ships or other structures underwater requires specialized training and equipment. Dive charter boat personnel are trained to assess the training, experience, and proper certification level of divers they carry to various dive sites. Even so, all divers sign a liability waiver when on a dive charter boat or even getting an air fill at a dive shop, as a certain number of diving-related incidents are random. A diver can do everything right and still has a roughly 10% chance of decompression illness (bends) and every diver who has been below approximately 60 feet has experienced nitrogen narcosis (rapture of the deep), which has symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication, to some degree. Divers are taught from their very first training session that they are ultimately responsible for their own safety.

Thank you for authoring this important legislation to assist in revitalizing California’s ports, coastal economy and the ocean environment.




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