Residential Docks

Contact the District to learn about the rules and specifications for the Big Bear Lake Residential Dock Program


Message from the Dock Desk

The 2017 season ended with our Lake level sitting at about 15’2” down from full. Unfortunately, this winter we have had minimal precipitation that has contributed to the Lake level. The exciting 2018 boating season is quickly approaching us and hopefully will bring with it a few good Spring showers to help raise the level of the Lake.  Our website has been updated to show you the most frequently asked questions and the most current information regarding the residential dock program on Big Bear Lake.

Dock Fees Due

Dock license fee renewals are due annually on or before April 1st.If your intention is to leave your dock on District property, you are still required to pay the annual licensing fee.

Annual Dock Inspections

The District conducts dock inspections to ensure compliance with established regulations and safety requirements.

Dock inspection reminders:

  • If your inspection does not reveal any deficiencies, you will not hear anything from the District.
  • If your dock fails inspection, you will be mailed a Notice of Correction.
  • You have 30 days to make the indicated repairs.
  • If the repairs are not made, your dock license will be suspended for 30 days, and you will be prohibited from using your dock.
  • If your dock is still out of compliance, the license will be revoked, and the dock must be removed from the Lake.
  • Docks in non-compliance may be impounded at the owners expense.

Common Failures

  • Trip hazards
  • Loose boards
  • Nails
  • Pulled up carpet
  • Instability
  • Dock pole retainers

Aquatic Plant Management

The primary goal of the Districts harvesting and treatment operations is to maintain navigation channels and to allow vessel access to private docks. The District has regulatory requirements for native plant coverage. Native aquatic vegetation that contribute to the health of Big Bear Lakes fishery will not be harvested unless it presents a navigational hazard. Lake vegetation can grow a foot a day in conducive conditions making it a challenge to maintain navigational paths to all docks throughout the entire season. Additional harvesting may be requested by submitting the P.L.A.N form to the District. Dock owners will be billed for additional requests at an hourly rate according to the Districts most recent fee schedule.

Lakefront Rentals

It is a violation of your dock license to rent your boat or dock on Big Bear Lake. If your lakefront property is on a rental program, the renters are considered guests and may use the dock for their personal vessel or a rented vessel from an authorized marina. Violating your dock license could result in the termination of dock privileges.


Lake Level Conditions

Just as weather is unpredictable, so is the rise and fall of our lake level. Dock owners should be mindful of fluctuating lake levels. The current Big Bear Lake Level can be viewed here. If lake levels are not conducive for exercising your dock privilege but your dock remains on District property, dock fees are still due to the District. In some cases, if the dock is unusable, the District will waive the invasive species fee.

Dock Insurance Requirements

Your private dock is placed on public property managed by the District; therefore Big Bear Municipal Water District must be named as additional insured on your homeowners policy with a minimum personal liability coverage in the amount of $300,000. This can be difficult for some insurance carriers to understand since we do not have an interest in your property. The District is only interested in liability coverage in regards to your dock, since it is located on our property. Providing your insurance carrier with this explanation usually allows them to add the District to the liability section as additionally insured. This coverage is required to obtain a dock license and exercise your dock privilege. If your insurance carrier cannot provide this type of policy, contact the District for a list of companies that do provide this coverage.

Dock Maintenance

Protect your investment with dock maintenance and avoid costly repairs.
Inspect Annually:

  • Flotation
  • Deck Surface
  • Hinges and Pins
  • Pole Angles
  • Placement

Adjust your dock poles throughout the summer to prevent unnecessary stress on your dock system

Remember that no part of any dock system (including head walk, gangways, or vessels tied to any dock) shall extend more than 70 feet from the current water line. As water levels fluctuate, it may become necessary to adjust the placement of your dock system.

Shoreline Dock Debris

The rise and fall of Big Bear Lakes level can cause damage to your dock if not stored properly for the winter. Homeowners may arrive at their property for the first time after a long winter to find their dock in need of repairs or even disposal. When taking the necessary steps to repair or dispose of your dock, it is important to remove all dock debris from the lake bottom. When homeowners neglect to dispose of this debris properly, it becomes a hazard for the public. Big Bear Lake shoreline is public property and intended for public use. With your dock debris left behind, the shoreline in front of your property has now become a safety hazard. In addition, when the lake level rises, this debris will become a boating hazard as well. Take pride in your Lake and don’t let your trash become someone else’s problem.

Dock Pole Retainer

Special attention should be given to fluctuating Lake levels. Dock pole retainers are necessary to keep your dock from floating off the dock poles when the Lake rises. The diagram shows the BBMWD approved methods of securing dock poles.

Dock Builders / Dock Repairs

District permitted dock builders or dock repair companies pay a fee and are required to carry insurance. However, the District does not require them to be licensed contractors. The District does not endorse any of the companies on our list of permitted dock builders and encourages the practice of “buyer beware” when considering engaging the services of a dock builder. You, as the dock owner, are responsible for making sure your dock meets the standards required by the District.  For a list of dock builders who are currently permitted to work on the lake, click HERE.

Shorezone Alteration

You might find shoreline dock access less than ideal prompting you to conjure ideas on how to fix this problem.

Per District Ordinance 43; Chapter 2: Section 3-2.102. Permit Required:

“No person shall dredge, fill or disturb the shorezone of the Lake without first obtaining a shorezone alteration permit from the District. No person shall drive or park a vehicle below the high water line of the Lake.”

Violators to this Ordinance may face a criminal complaint and accrue heavy fines. Dredge is defined as the removal of earth, vegetation, or other organic or inorganic materials from the shorezone. Fill is defined as the deposit of earth, vegetation, or other organic or inorganic materials in or upon the shorezone. Please contact the District for alternate methods of improving your shoreline dock access.

New Owner of Lakefront Property

Welcome to Big Bear Lake!

Big Bear Municipal Water District manages Big Bear Lake and all activities that take place on the Lake. The Lake is public property; all docks placed on its surface must be licensed with the District and must meet dock specifications and standards. Placing a dock on Big Bear Lake is a privilege, not a right, and is at the discretion of the Big Bear Municipal Water District. The Districts rules and regulations are in place to ensure fair and safe use of the Lake.

Now that you are the new owner of a property on Big Bear Lake with dock privileges, you will need to obtain a dock license in your name if you wish to exercise those privileges.

Here is a list of what is required of you before a dock license may be issued:

  1. Complete the Dock License Application. Be sure to take accurate measurements and make an accurate drawing of the dock. The District must have a new drawing on file.
  2. Photo copy of your driver license.
  3. A copy of the Grant Deed.
  4. Proof of liability insurance naming the District as additionally insured on your homeowners policy with minimum personal liability coverage in the amount of $300,000.
  5. Payment for the application fee of $50. And payment for your annual dock fees.

While your dock license application is pending, you may use the dock up to 30 days. If you have not obtained a Dock License within a reasonable amount of time after escrow has closed, the District may require you to remove the dock. Staying in contact with the District is key and we are willing to work with you and for you.

The following District resolutions pertain to general dock classifications, standards, and specifications.

General Dock Classifictions
Resolution No. 2018-02
Dock Specifications
Resolution No. 2018-03
Shorezone Projects
Resolution No. 2009-10

Prospective Lakefront Home Buyer

Many homes around Big Bear Lake have been granted the privilege of owning a dock. The Lake is public property; all docks placed on its surface must be licensed with the District and meet dock specifications and standards. In most cases, lakefront properties created prior to 1981 have dock privileges. If the property was created after 1981, it must have (50) feet of lake frontage to qualify for dock privileges. There are a select few non-lakefront properties that are located across a right-of-way or with easements granting them access to the Lake for maintaining a dock. These non-lakefront properties with privileges were established prior to 1981 and are no longer created. To confirm dock privileges, contact the District with the property address and the Assessors Parcel Number (APN).


So it is time to sell your lakefront home. Here are a few things to know about your dock license.

  • Dock licenses are non-transferable.
  • Once escrow has opened on the property with dock privileges, the owner will need to contact the District with this information.
  • The District does not automatically receive new owner information once a property has sold. All billing will continue in the original owners name until the District is notified.
  • The new owner must complete a dock license application in order to obtain a dock license in their name.

Dry Dock Warnings

When the level of Big Bear Lake falls and you lose the ability to use your dock, many dock owners leave their dock on District property (the dry lake shoreline). When the lake inevitably rises, your dock may become unfastened and carried away.

The possibility is great that in one severe winter the current dry shoreline will be submerged as the lake rises, turning your unsecured dock into free floating debris potentially damaging the dock itself, neighboring docks, or other surrounding structures. The unpredictable nature of weather, along with the natural Lake level fluctuation, can create a problem for these unfastened objects.

If your dock has not been secured properly and breaks away from its location, you will need to contact a marina for retrieval. Your dock is your personal property and if not salvageable, is your responsibility to dispose of properly.