SAN DIEGO — San Diego police and lifeguards impounded three boats and cited three boat owners during a joint operation Friday in an attempt to crack down on illegal boat rentals in Mission Bay.
Lifeguards said they’ve seen an increase in people renting boats in Mission Bay through an app, something that is illegal, according to city code.
Vince, one of the boat owners cited during the operation, had his boat impounded Friday. He had rented his boat through the Get My Boat App about 25 times before, and said didn’t know this was illegal.
Vince said he typically gets people booking through the Get My Boat app for celebrations and they pay him to drive his boat around Mission Bay.
When he received a booking for Friday, he went to pick up his passengers at a public dock, but it was not who he thought it was going to be.
“As I’m tying up, I look up and there’s just uniformed cops all armed, charging down,” Vince said.
Instead of the usual group of people celebrating something booking his boat, it was officials behind the badge, booking through the app and setting up the operation.
“Most of the time, it’s birthday parties, bachelorette parties, and there’s always a reason, which is really funny because when they set me up on this little sting that they did – I called them and said ‘Hey what are we celebrating?’ and he didn’t have an answer, and that should have been a slight red flag,” Vince said.
Police said apps to rent vessels can be unsafe and aren’t regulated.
Vince said he was cited and his boat was impounded, which cost him $800 in total for the citation and to get his boat out of the impound.
SDFD lifeguards have seen an increase in those who are renting vessels illegally on Mission Bay.
Only licensed lessees may rent vessels for use on Mission Bay.
According to the City of San Diego, only brick and mortar businesses that have registered with the City of San Diego and have the appropriate business license, insurance and proof of maintenance and safety compliance are allowed to rent out vessels on Mission Bay.
If you are operating an illegally rented vessel and are involved in a boating collision that causes injury, you may be liable for medical and other costs, police said.
“…We’ll gladly cooperate with the local authorities in San Diego — who have not reached out to us, though we would have been (and still are) happy to provide any help — as needed,” a spokesperson for the Get My Boat App said in an email to Fox 5. “When an owner lists their boat with us, they are required to agree that they’ll follow all relevant boating laws and regulations. We’re quite clear in the application process that regulations vary based on jurisdiction and can be highly localized, and that it’s the owner’s responsibility to understand and follow the laws of where they operate their boat rentals. Including having the correct permit for where they intend to take their boats.”