The Harbor Commission, which had given boat owners at the dilapidated Our Marina in Long Beach until Tuesday to leave or face stiff fines, held to that deadline this week.
But commissioners made it clear that they will not attempt to collect $210 a day in mooring fees and fines if the 70 remaining boat owners, including 28 who live aboard their vessels, leave soon.
After a last-minute plea from the boaters, the commission also agreed to assist with safety and health improvements at the storm-battered marina it wants to demolish to make way for a shipping terminal.
"We're certainly not looking to make money off the hardship of these people. . . . We will cooperate with them in every way possible," commission President David Hauser said after a closed session Monday with port attorneys.
"From here on, it's a matter of whether we think someone is working in good faith" to leave the marina, he said.
Hauser added, however: "I don't want to convey that we're going to allow any extension," because that would undercut the port's position that the owners must quickly find slips elsewhere.
Port officials say they were left with a marina full of old boats this summer because an independent marina operator failed to live up to a 1986 agreement to clear the docks by June 30.
The port paid $14.4 million for the marina and 72 surrounding acres last year, and officials said they gave marina operator William Melamed of Los Angeles 16 months to evict boaters.
Verbal Agreement Claimed
Melamed, however, has said the port verbally agreed to allow the marina to stay open until construction was imminent. Melamed gave the boaters a 30-day notice to leave in July.
About 60 of the original 130 boats have moved in the last two months, boat owners at the marina estimate.
The remaining owners were notified by the port two weeks ago that they would have to leave the marina, near the Henry Ford Bridge, by Sept. 15 or face eviction, confiscation of their boats and $210 a day in mooring fees and fines.
Most of the remaining boats are odd-sized or in disrepair and have not been able to find a place to move, boat owner representatives have said.