We recently had an instance where we sometimes drop anchor
in the free area just outside Cabrillo. The wife was cooking lunch and we were approached by two officers that told us we had to have a permit to drop anchor
in the free area. They told us to call a number and let the port office know who we were and our boat information.
A patrol boat later came out and checked out driver's licences, asked questions, and motored around out boat before having us sign a permit and then leaving.
It did not cost anything but we found it intrusive and probably illegal in some ways.