The Coast News Group
Community outcry prompts Oceanside to rethink dockside lease terms. Supporters want Helgren’s Sportsfishing to stay. Photo by Promise Yee
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Oceanside considers shared lease for harbor

OCEANSIDE — The city is considering a shared lease agreement for the approximate 2,300 square foot building and six dock spaces that have been occupied by Helgren’s Sportsfishing for the past 38 years, following an outcry of support for Helgren’s.

Doug Eddow, the city real estate manager, said Oceanside is currently in discussions with Helgren’s about new lease terms.

“The city is looking at options at this time to determine what is the best use for the space when the lease expires,” Eddow said.

The city opened up bids for the lease, which expires in May 2017, and received two proposals, one from Helgren’s and another from Oceanside Sea Center.

The two companies offer some similar services, but have different focuses.

Helgren’s is a long-standing sportsfishing business, which provides open party fishing trips, charters boats, whale watching tours and burials at sea.

Oceanside Sea Center focuses on research and education. It also charters boats and gives whale watching tours, but its fishing charters are catch and release, and it does not offer open party trips that allow people to board without chartering the whole boat.

A shared lease is a new option that is being considered after Helgren’s supporters addressed the City Council in September.

Helgren’s staff said Paul Lawrence, the harbor manager, informed the company they would not be awarded the lease in late August.

In early September Lawrence told The Coast News a decision would come forward soon.

“What we have at this time is a staff recommendation for one of the RFP respondents,” Lawrence said.

On Sept. 21 council discussed a lease proposal in closed session with no reportable action.

At the same meeting close to 30 people spoke to the council during the public comments period to voice support for Helgren’s Sportsfishing. Speakers touted the longevity of the company, personal memories aboard Helgren’s boats, its business success and newer, larger fleet of boats than the rival company.

Several speakers suggested a shared lease at that time. Following the meeting Mayor Jim Wood said he hoped there could be a compromise to allow Helgren’s Sportsfishing to remain.

The current lease gives Helgren’s exclusive rights to provide boat trips. Other boating companies must sublease from Helgren’s to operate in the harbor.

New terms would tentatively allow two independent companies to share the site. Eddow said there is ample space to do so.

“The building can easily be demised to have two tenants,” Eddow said. “The dock spaces can also be easily allocated between the two entities. Having both entities at the harbor could be in the best interest of the city.”

Eddow said both boating companies were informed of the initial selection, and then the notification was withdrawn when a shared lease was considered.

Michelle Skaggs-Lawrence, city manager, said there is a new offer on the table.

“There is an effort to see if we can have the premises shared by users,” Lawrence said. “Terms have been offered.”

Eddow said there is no set date to finalize terms and bring the item to City Council for review and approval. An update is expected in 60 days.