OCEANSIDE — City Council, which acts as the Harbor and Beaches board of directors, will decide if harbor slip fees will increase on Oct. 6. The proposal is to raise the 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 increase in fees is an effort to cover the costs of maintenance to the harbor, which has broken even or come up short of needed funds over the last five years. “It will fund the next 20 year Capital Improvement Program, restrooms, docks, utility lines,” Frank Quan, Harbor and Beaches coordinator, said.
Harbor revenue has ranged from $5.4 million to $5.9 million, leaving recent annual shortfalls of $90,000 to $230,000.
Without an increase the harbor would have a cumulative $3.4 million budget shortfall for operations and a whopping $21.3 million shortfall for capital improvements over the next 20 years.
The harbor is funded 71 percent by slip rentals and guest boaters, 29 percent by leases of harbor restaurants and businesses, 7 percent by parking, and 3 percent by investment income. It pays the city 9 percent of its gross revenue and will soon increase the payment to the city to 10 percent.
Currently Oceanside Harbor has one of the lowest marina slip rental rates in Mission Bay, San Diego Bay and Dana Point. “Compared to other marinas, it’s almost the cheapest,” Quan said.
New rates are an average of what 17 area marinas of similar size and facilities charge.
Some question the two-tier system that charges new slip renters more than current renters, who will be grandfathered in at the present rates.
“From the face of it I don’t usually like to create different classes,” said Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, liaison to the Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee. “I believe it’s a first step. The second step would be to equalize the fees.”
Objections come from some of the 181 boat owners on the waiting list who will pay more for a slip when one becomes available. Other boat owners object to the higher rate being charged when a boat is transferred to a family member and a new permit is issued at the increased rate.
“There are some complaints, but it’s the most fair for most amount of people,” Quan said. “It’s more fair than the (proposed) $1 to $2 a foot increase. There are quite a few retired people who live on a fixed income and have planned a certain amount of rent.”
The proposed fee increase will go into effect in January, if approved.