This is my October 5 proposal, as mailed to other members of the Waterfront Commission. At the November meeting, the Marina presented a draft rate structure roughly similar to what I advocate here. Our most significant remaining area of disagreement is the dock box charge: I'd Like to see it included in the basic berth fee (with a credit for berths without a box), while the Marina would like the dock box to be an additional monthly charge.

Berkeley Marina Berth Rate Proposal

by Paul Kamen, October 5 1999

Berth rates, not including power or dock box
(per ft per month)

           Downwind or crosswind      Upwind or end tie     
  Berth     Single       Double      Single       Double 
  size      finger       finger      finger       finger    
  20-21      4.60         4.80        4.80         5.00
  22-24      4.70         4.90        4.90         5.10
  25-29      4.80         5.00        5.00         5.20
  30-39      4.90         5.10        5.10         5.30
  40-49      5.00         5.20        5.20         5.40
  50-59      5.10         5.30        5.30         5.50
  60-69      5.20         5.40        5.40         5.60
  70-79      5.30         5.50        5.50         5.70
  80-89      5.40         5.60        5.60         5.80
  90-up      5.50         5.70        5.70         5.90

Adjustment for unmetered power (per ft per month)
  20-21          0.00
  22-24          0.10
  25-29          0.20
  30-39          0.30
  40-49          0.40
  50-59          0.50
  60-69          0.60
  70-79          0.70
  80-89          0.80
  90-up          0.90

Charge for dock box: $5/month flat fee (not per ft). 

Overhang Policy:

Berth charges are based on nominal berth size or "extreme overall length" as defined below, whichever is larger.

Extreme overall length shall be defined as the longitudinal distance along the vessel centerline from the extreme forward end of the vessel and all equipment to the extreme aft end of the vessel and all equipment. This measurement shall include bow rail, bowsprit, anchor sprit or roller, stowed anchor, towing eye, stern rail, boomkin, boom, rudder, swim step, ladder, davits, hoisted dinghy, outboard bracket, and outboard or outdrive lower unit, including propeller, as normally positioned for stowage. For the purpose of determining berth fees and allowable overhang, extreme overall length shall be rounded up or down to the nearest foot.

Overhang shall be defined as the extreme overall length minus the nominal berth size.

The overhang shall not exceed the amount shown:

  nominal         maximum
  berth           allowable 
  length          overhang 
  20-21              2 
  22-24              2 
  25-29              3 
  30-39              4 
  40-49              5 
  50-59              6 
  60-69              7 
  70-79              8 
  80-89              9 
  90-up             10

In situations where additional overhang will not restrict passage of other boats, such as inside corner berths, additional overhang may be approved by the harbormaster on a case-by-case basis. This will generally involve re-designating the berth at a longer length and paying the correspondingly higher berth rate and unmetered power rate, if applicable.

For temporary berths where the boat size is less than the berth size, especially for temporary berth assignments necessary to allow for marina construction or maintenance, the harbormaster may approve a berth rate corresponding to boat size instead of berth size.

Other Rates and Fees (current and proposed):

                      current   proposed

Dry storage, 24x8      45.00     65.00
Dry storage, 28x8      50.00     75.00
Launch ramp parking     2.00      3.00
Skiff                  44.00     65.00 (= $4.06/ft for a 16' boat)
Transient, /day/ft      0.30      0.35 (=$10.50/ft/month)
Multihull, /month/ft    5.40     +1.50

Live-aboard fee, per month   
          current: $125 + $75 per additional resident
         proposed: $125

Coments and analysis

The Basic Rate Structure:

Marina staff seems to agree that a progressive rate structure is workable, as per their "Proposal One" in last month's packet. However the size categories presented by staff were incomplete and inconsistent, and I get the impression they would prefer fewer categories than in this proposal. I'm going to continue to argue for more categories and a steep progression of rates, as shown below, because I think the market will easily support these rates, and because it means more revenue and ultimately, a better marina.

I will stress again that market rates do not mean that we are pricing lower-income boat owners out of Berkeley. The cost of owning and operating a boat depends on size more than on any other factor. If one of our goals is to maintain a mixed-income community of boat-owners, the most effective way to do this is to continue to provide an adequate supply of smaller berths. A progressive, market-based rate structure will help insure that these smaller berths remain affordable.

There may be cases of large boats operated on a shoe-string that cannot afford market berth rates, but I don't think it is in the best interests of the Marina or the City to subsidies these vessels. Their owners have the option of downgrading to smaller boats if they are operating that close to the edge. For most large boats, the proposed rate increases are a tiny percentage of normal operating expenses.

The other fundamental element of this proposal is the introduction of reasonable rate differentials between single finger and double finger berths, and between upwind and downwind berths.

A uniform or near-uniform rate has the advantage of simplicity, but historically it has meant that we have been pricing a commodity of varying value at a constant level. This level had to work for the least desirable and lowest value berths, and the result has been that for many years the marina has been renting most of its better berths at well below market rates.

The complexity of the proposed rate structure will generate $150K per year. Reduced waiting lists in the more popular sizes will also make it easier for new berthers to get in, and for current berthers to move or upgrade. I think it's worth some complexity to accomplish these goals.

Even if the marina were in the black, I'd still be in favor of these proposed increases. We should have the ability to budget for non- essential improvements and services, especially if we can do it within market rates for the existing facilities. Non-essential improvements will help keep the marina solvent in the long run.

Size Categories:

The proposed size categories don't correspond exactly to the mix of berth sizes, but the divisions are as simple as possible, and they're easy to remember.

The 20-21 ft category is in response to the high vacancy rate of 20 ft berths, and the break above 24 ft covers the rapidly increasing demand when moving from the mid 20s to the high 20s. From 30 ft up, each ten feet is a new size category. To keep things simple, the rate increment is a constant $0.10 per ft per month for each increment in size category.

Single Finger/Double Finger:

As discussed in previous proposals, the differential between double-finger and single-finger berths is increased from the historical $0.05 to $0.20 per ft per month to reflect the best estimate of actual difference in demand.


A new differential is introduced between upwind and downwind berths, to reflect the higher desirability of upwind berthing. The differential of $0.20/ft/month is probably low - Emery Cove, one of a very few marinas with closely comparable wind conditions - uses $0.50/ft/month. But since this is a new element in the rate structure, a conservative number is probably the better choice.

Electrical Power:

This reflects the very rapid increase in power consumption as boat size increases. It's a little cumbersome, but proposals with fewer categories or flat rates necessarily lead to large inequities or reduced revenue.

Fortunately this problem will diminish as more docks are replaced, and fewer berths have unmetered power. Larger berths, for which the cost of providing unlimited electrical power can be almost as high as the berth rental, will probably become metered before docks are replaced.

Dock Box Charge:

I've shown it the way staff wants to do it, but my druthers would be to include the dock box as part of the berth, and offer a credit for berths that are without one. Partly because the flat rate has an anti- progressive effect on the rate structure as a whole, and partly because the berths with no dock boxes will be eliminated as more docks are replaced. The "default" rental should be as simple as possible, and including the dock box wouldl save a step in calculating most berth rates.

Old Dock Credit: I've deleted the credit for older docks that appeared in my earlier proposals. Staff has indicated that they believe that there is no significant differential in market value. I disagree, but a higher vacancy rate on the older docks might be useful when it's time to rebuild.

Overhang Policy:

This is the current official policy and the one that staff prefers, charging for whichever is greater: extreme overall length or nominal berth size. I'll note, however, that there is a "legal" definition of LOA in federal code that specifically excludes bowsprits, bolted-on swim steps, anchor rollers, etc. So I think we really do have to change the wording in the Marina Ordinance that calls for LOA. Yes, the diagram should make it clear that we mean something different from the usual, legal, and technical usage of this term, but consumers (especially sailors) are all too willing to exploit any ambiguity in their favor when one is presented to them.

The table of allowable overhang is a liberalization of current policy, but I think It's very reasonable and corresponds to the size categories in this proposal. We could simplify the table by reducing some of these numbers, but it would mean giving up revenue and reduce the berthers' flexibility in selecting berths.

Dry Storage:

Significant increases are proposed for dry storage rates. This is to reflect market prices, and is also an attempt to discourage use of the dry storage areas as "dead storage" for boats that are no longer operated.

Skiff Berthing:

The proposed skiff rate of $65 per month corresponds to a maximum of only $4.06 per foot for a 16 ft boat, and even less for a 20 ft boat. This is still a great bargain for the Berkeley location.

Transient Fees:

The transient dock fee is increased only slightly, to 35 cents per foot per day. This corresponds to $10.50 per foot per month. Although there are administrative costs associated with transient berthing that probably justify a higher rate, offering transient berths falls under the category of "public relations," and the marina should make an effort to maintain an attractively low rate. Crew and guests who become familiar with the Berkeley Marina as transients are more likely to consider Berkeley for berthing in the future. A small loss in this area is probably a good use of resources in the long term.

Multihulls and Wide Boats:

The rate for wide boats, which virtually always means multihull sailboats that require an end tie, is proposed at $1.50 per foot per month above the normal rate for the berth. This reflects the high demand for wide berths and the very limited regional supply.

Live-Aboard Fee:

The base live-aboard fee is unchanged at $125 per month, but the additional $75 per person is dropped under this proposal. This is mainly due to the problems associated with determining whether the second "resident" on a boat is a guest, a visitor, or a true resident. The total of $200 per month for two people is also perceived as somewhat above current market rate for live-aboard privileges, especially considering lack of amenities like laundry facilities and newer showers.

Revenue Implications:

Two spreadsheets that show the estimated revenue implications of this proposal are attached. They consider only changes to berth rates and fees that apply to berths A-O, and do not consider skiff berths, dry storage, or other miscellaneous fees.

Estimated annual revenue for the "high revenue" option is $160,000 above the current rate structure at 100% occupancy, so the goal of $150,000 is met at about 94% occupancy.

For the "revenue neutral" option, the base rate is down to $4.20, and results in a small increase over current revenue.

Berth Rate Examples:

Current rates used in these examples are based on $5.05 for all single-finger berths and $5.10 for all double-finger berths, with $0.10 credit for no dock box, except the 84' double-finger which is $5.70/ft/month.

(note on jargon: "upwind" is more desirable than "downwind," and "double-finger" is more desirable than "single-finger.")

Example 1: 25 ft downwind double-finger, unmetered, dock box 
Current:  $127.50
    New:  $135.00
Increase:  5.9%
Comment: Small boat, average berth, modest rate increase. 

Example 2: 40 ft upwind double-finger, unmetered, dock box
Current:  $204.00
    New:  $237.00
Increase:  16.2%
Comment: A moderately large boat in a premium berth, this one would see a 
significant rate increase.

Example 3: 20 ft downwind single-finger, unmetered, no dock box.
Current:  $99.00
    New:  $92.00
Reduction: 7.1%
Comment: These are the slips with a very high vacancy rate, and a rate 
reduction might help get them filled. 

Example 4: 52 ft. downwind single-finger, metered, dock box.
Current:  $262.60
    New:  $270.20
Increase:  2.9%
Comment: A large boat in a relatively undesirable berth will see very little 
rate increase - but now has to pay for its own electricity. 

Example 5: 65 ft upwind double-finger, unmetered, dock box.
Current:  $331.50
    New:  $408.00
Increase:  23.1%
Comment: Large boat in premium berth, relatively large increase. But it's 
almost insignificant compared to the operating expenses for a vessel of this 
size. And the City is still likely to be losing money on the electricity.

Example 6: 35 ft. downwind double-finger, unmetered, dock box
Current:  $178.50
    New:  $189.00
Increase:  5.9%
Comment: Average size boat in average berth. Modest increase.

Example 7: 84 ft. upwind double-finger, metered, dock box
Current:  $478.80
    New:  $492.20
Increase:  2.8%
Comment: Small increase, despite very big boat in premium berth. This boat is 
one of the very few that is already paying a higher rate, and is also paying 
for its own power.