OCEANSIDE — Slip rental rates at Oceanside Harbor are expected to increase between $3 and $7 per foot next month to help pay for maintenance and repairs to the marina’s aging infrastructure.
On Dec. 6, the City Council unanimously approved increasing the monthly slip rates to generate $6.3 million for upgrades at the 60-year-old harbor, which has been a source of discussion over the past several years.
In 2021, the Harbor District board of directors hired Richard Brady & Associates to review and assess the physical conditions of docks, gangways, gates, rap-rap, waterside infrastructure and other assets necessary to its operations.
The harbor needs approximately 15 years to raise enough funds to replace or rebuild its infrastructure. According to the Brady & Associates report, the cost of the 15-year harbor maintenance plan is estimated at $21.3 million. With an additional 30% contingency buffer, the total cost is expected to be approximately $28 million.
Under current revenue levels, the harbor is short roughly $14 million. City staff worked with an ad hoc committee consisting of four members of the Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee to create a financial plan to fill the funding gap.
The city voted in favor of raising the harbor’s 26-foot slip rentals from $16 to $18.95, 34-footers from $17.50 to $18.95, 43-footers from $17.50 to $20.50 and 51-footers from $17.50 to $24.50 per foot per month. The new harbor slip rental rates will not be due until mid-January.
The slip rental rate increases also account for a 6.5% Consumer Price Index adjustment that would also have gone into effect in January 2024, according to Public Works Director Hamid Bahadori.
In addition to the slip rate increases, the harbor will also begin metering water and electricity at each slip, which will generate about $4.9 million, Bahadori said. The city is also implementing an $840,000 cap on the harbor’s annual lease paid to the city.
Each year, the harbor pays the city 10% of its gross annual revenue or a minimum of $250,000, whichever is higher. Last year, the harbor paid the city $844,927. The difference between the annual rent per the terms of the lease agreement and the $840,000 cap will go toward the maintenance plan and will be in place for 15 years only or until $2.4 million is collected, whichever occurs first.
The approved funding plan was a compromise between city staff and HBAC members, who were not particularly thrilled with the increases.
“Today we’re here because this is the best and final deal,” said Les George, an HBAC and ad hoc committee member. “There’s going to be a lot of voters here that are not really happy with us; I’m not happy with us either, but this is the best we could do.”
Mayor Esther Sanchez acknowledged that the decision was a tough one to make for both HBAC members and staff alike. Councilmember Peter Weiss noted that these increases will likely not be the only ones that will come before the harbor in the future.
“If HBAC thinks this is the end of future increases, it’s not,” Weiss said. “There are significant capital expenditures coming up and no money being set aside for it.”
The project funding does not include resources for needed repairs on the fishing pier, Bahadori noted. Staff is currently pursuing grant funding to pay for those costs.