Berkeley Waterfront Commission

Comments from the Chair, April 11, 2001

The Marina Ordinance Revision

Eleven months ago, at our May 2000 meeting, we voted to approve a fairly extensive set of revisions to the Marina Ordinance and recommended that they be sent on to the City Council. There were delays, then more delays for the election, then a slow process of review by other City departments. However, for the last month or two the ball appears to be back on the Marina's side of the court.

But a copy of the latest markup, from earlier this year, showed that several of the recommended changes passed by this Commission over a year ago (January and March, 2000) had reverted to an version. Probably by accident, but since there was no voluntary action by staff to correct these mistakes it appears that another Commission action might be necessary to get the process moving again, and to get the text corrected to reflect the intent of both the Commission and Staff.

I had requested a week ago Tuesday that this latest, erroneous markup of the Marina Ordinance be made available to the Commission via the packet. But the file was not located 'till Monday, long after the packets had gone out. This version does not appear to incorporate the latest markups from other City departments.

Action tonight might be to restore the changes made earlier by the Waterfront Commission that have been dropped or missed, and to recommend that the remaining changes be incorporated as quickly as possible and that the ordinance revision move to the Council.

This ordinance revision is critically important to Marina finances because the new ordinance makes it much easier for Marina Staff to charge for actual length of boats that are significantly longer than their berths. We are losing a considerable amount of revenue because of these discrepancies between actual length and billed length.

Marina Berth Fees

As a berther I have a "conflict of interest" (to the tune of something less than $5.00/month, which is about what I spend on paper and inkjet cartridges for these meetings) so I am required to "recuse" myself from the vote and from participation in the discussion as a Commissioner. For that part of the meeting I'll turn the Chair over to Brad and move to the audience, where I'll be available to answer questions as a berther and as a member of the public.

Marina Berthing Policies

The waiting list, berth transfers, length overhangs, new live- aboard permits, and numerous other issues are not always explicitly handled by the Marina Ordinance but are determined at the policy level by staff. There is a document that attempts to outline these policies, but it is incomplete and badly in need of revision.

Staff may or may not seek Commission guidance when setting these policies, but either way, it's critical to good berther and community relations for the written policies to be available, up-to-date, and complete.

A commission recommendation might help get this project moving again. We might also want to form a Marina Policy Subcommittee to coordinate with staff.

Waterfront Commission Minutes and Agenda on the web

It doesn't violate the letter of the Brown Act, but it certainly violates the spirit and intent when the latest agenda on the City's Waterfront Commission web page is from August of 2000, and the latest (and only) minutes are from June of that year.

This has gotta be fixed, and I will entertain a motion to recommend to Council that Staff be directed to get on the ball in this area.

Web Page Update

Finally! After two years my ranting and raving has paid off, and the rate schedule on the City's official Marina web page now reflect the current rates. I will move to strike this item from the agenda.

Eastshore State Park

For the March 20 2001 Council meeting, Betty Olds had put an item on the consent calendar which called for the City to:

"Write a letter to the planning team for the State and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) endorsing and supporting the Sierra Club/San Francisco Bay Chapter policies regarding the planning of Eastshore State Park."

Stephen Swanson of Partners for Parks wrote a letter in opposition to the measure, and I did too after reading his. Here's my letter:

"Just a quick note to add my voice to that of Stephen Swanson, who asks that the City Council consider broader public input before adopting the Sierra Club positions as its own.

"I'm a Sierra Club member myself, and have great respect for what they've done to make the Eastshore State Park a reality. However, I'm concerned about possible action that could short-circuit Berkeley's contribution to the public planning process before it even gets started.

"There are some substantive issues at stake here, the disposition of Seabreeze Market and the dog park (mentioned by Swanson) being perhaps the least important of them. The main issues facing the Eastshore State Park designers will be the mix of active versus passive recreation, and the degree of facility development required to support various options for both land-based and water-borne activities.

"There are many "right answers" to these problems, and the Sierra Club's preferred alternatives represent only one possible scenario.

"Let's let the planning process run and see where the most likely users of this park want to take it before we defer some of these decisions to any single interest group, even one as worthy as the Sierra Club."

The measure was withdrawn from the Council agenda and "referred to staff."

We may wish to take action by making a recommendation to Council on behalf of the entire Commission. We should also ask to be kept informed of any action or report by staff that results from this referral.

Other Eastshore State Park items:

The Eastshore State Park's website,, is up and running. The first public planning workshop is Thursday April 26, 7-10 PM at Hs. Lordships. This is a critical meeting that will likely set the course for the remaining workshop sequence.

The website also has a space for public input, but so far it's seen very light traffic. Mainly me and a bunch of kayakers all agreeing with each other about water-related uses and better access for non-motorized boats. Please drop by and add your comments, this is an important element of the public record.

Berkeley Bay Festival is two days later on Saturday April 28, and Patty Donald is giving us a table right next to the East Bay Regional Park District's table. Note that CESP is sharing the table with EBRPD. We are all strongly encouraged to spend some time at the table fielding questions, criticisms, and suggestions about the Eastshore State Park planning process, and all other waterfront projects and policies.

May 21 is the date for the first joint meeting of the Waterfront Commission with the Parks Commission to discuss the Eastshore State Park.

Office Building at 125 University Ave.

Staff is reportedly ready to discuss the specifics of the lease negotiation with the Waterfront Commission finance subcommittee, then with the full Commission in closed session, after which it can move on to the City Council.

Lease of Aquatic Park structures to Audubon Society

There has reportedly been another meeting between Ed Murphy and the Audubon society representative, but the results has not yet been discussed by the Aquatic Park Subcommittee of the Waterfront Commission. Specifics involving fees might have to be discussed at the subcommittee level or in closed session, but there is concern that staff could be putting too much importance on a relatively trivial differential in monthly fees and not enough on guarantees that expensive improvements to the property will actually be performed.

Staff funding by position

I will move that we recommend to Council that the Marina Manager's funding be reduced to 0.98 FTE, based on his report that he spent nearly a full week uptown dealing with library trees. (I expect this motion to die for lack of a second.)

Occupancy Report

Looks like we're just about full up!

Congratulations to staff for what appears to be the highest occupancy rate in decades.

It's notable that on the new F and G docks the 22 and 24 ft berths are the last to go, and that there are still six vacant 20-footers on B dock. The 48 ft vacancies on H and I are in among houseboats, and have special problems that account for these spots being hard to sell.

Dragon Boat Video

I have a very short video of a dragon boat event in San Francisco that might be of interest to some members of the Commission. This will be shown at Berkeley Yacht Club after adjournment.