Obtaining custody of vessel.
(1) Prior to exercising the authority granted in RCW 79.100.030, the authorized public entity must first obtain custody of the vessel. To do so, the authorized public entity must:
(a) Mail notice of its intent to obtain custody, at least twenty days prior to taking custody, to the last known address of the previous owner to register the vessel in any state or with the federal government and to any lien holders or secured interests on record. A notice need not be sent to the purported owner or any other person whose interest in the vessel is not recorded with a state or federal agency;
(b) Post notice of its intent clearly on the vessel for thirty days and publish its intent at least once, more than ten days but less than twenty days prior to taking custody, in a newspaper of general circulation for the county in which the vessel is located; and
(c) Post notice of its intent on the department's internet web site on a page specifically designated for such notices. If the authorized public entity is not the department, the department must facilitate the internet posting.
(2) All notices sent, posted, or published in accordance with this section must, at a minimum, explain the intent of the authorized public entity to take custody of the vessel, the rights of the authorized public entity after taking custody of the vessel as provided in RCW 79.100.030, the procedures the owner must follow in order to avoid custody being taken by the authorized public entity, the procedures the owner must follow in order to reclaim possession after custody is taken by the authorized public entity, and the financial liabilities that the owner may incur as provided for in RCW 79.100.060.
(3)(a) Any authorized public entity may tow, beach, or otherwise take temporary possession of a vessel if the owner of the vessel cannot be located or is unwilling or unable to assume immediate responsibility for the vessel and if the vessel:
(i) Is in immediate danger of sinking, breaking up, or blocking navigational channels; or
(ii) Poses a reasonably imminent threat to human health or safety, including a threat of environmental contamination.
(b) Before taking temporary possession of the vessel, the authorized public entity must make reasonable attempts to consult with the department or the United States coast guard to ensure that other remedies are not available. The basis for taking temporary possession of the vessel must be set out in writing by the authorized public entity within seven days of taking action and be submitted to the owner, if known, as soon thereafter as is reasonable. If the authorized public entity has not already provided the required notice, immediately after taking possession of the vessel, the authorized public entity must initiate the notice provisions in subsection (1) of this section. The authorized public entity must complete the notice requirements of subsection (1) of this section before using or disposing of the vessel as authorized in RCW 79.100.050.
(4) An authorized public entity may invite the department of ecology to use the authority granted to it under RCW 90.56.410 prior to, or concurrently with, obtaining custody of a vessel under this section. However, this is not a necessary prerequisite to an authorized public entity obtaining custody.
[2013 c 291 § 37; 2007 c 342 § 2; 2006 c 153 § 3; 2002 c 286 § 5.]