OCEANSIDE — Overwhelming citizen objection to proposed harbor slip rental fee increases moved City Council, acting as the Beaches and Harbor board of directors, to put off making a decision on raising fees Oct. 6. A workshop will be scheduled for residents and boat owners to have their say before a decision is made.
The proposed increase raises current fees of $10.10 to $11.30 per foot of slip per month to $13.50 to $17.30 per foot per month for new renters. The additional live aboard fee will increase from $2.60 per foot per month to $5 per foot per month. The increases are based on the average rates of similar size marina harbors in San Diego, South Bay, Mission Bay and Dana Point.
Extra monies will help balance the harbor budget and cover the costs of needed maintenance and repairs. Without an increase the harbor will have a cumulative $3.4 million budget shortfall for operations and $21.3 million shortfall for capital improvements over the next 20 years.
Several members of the Beaches and Harbor Advisory Committee spoke, some in support of the proposed increases, and others asked that details get ironed out before an OK is given.
“It’s a fiscally responsible decision with very little impact on current slip renters,” Scott Thompson, live aboard boat owner and Beaches and Harbor Advisory Committee member, said.
Richard Trusty, boat owner and Beaches and Harbor Advisory Committee member, opposed the increases. “During these economic times it’s not appropriate to do,” Trusty said. “Right now is not the time or place to raise rates in any way.”
Among the concerns shared Oct. 6 were objections to loopholes in the proposed agreement that subject current slip renters to the new, higher rates if they transfer boat ownership to a family member, or add or remove a spouse’s name on the permit. Jim Jenkis, boat owner and Beaches and Harbor Advisory Committee member, pointed out there is a double death penalty when a deceased spouse’s name is removed from a permit and a son or daughter’s name is later added when the child is 18. Both cases warrant new permits and additional fees.
Those who currently pay to remain on a waiting list would also be subject to the new higher fees for a slip rental after January.
“Three dollars doesn’t sound like much, but when you add that up per foot per boat that is astronomical,” George Rhea of Oceanside said. “Don’t vote on this, we need to work on it.”
There was also objection to money going toward the improvement of shared harbor restroom facilities and not toward needed repairs on facilities used by boaters. “You’re asking boaters to fund a bathhouse on the beach that campers and surfers are going to use,” Dan Felts, an Oceanside live aboard boat owner, said. “Why put the burden on the back of the boat owners?”
Many did not want an increase at all. “There’s a saying about a rose being a rose, I feel taxes are the same way,” Kramer Jackson of Oceanside said. “It’s a 20 percent increase in my rent.”
A future workshop will discuss community concerns and possible solutions. Some solutions already suggested are that funds raised from harbor events go to support the harbor, and fee increases be postponed until July