Regular Meeting of the Waterfront Commission

December 8, 1999

Hs Lordship’s Restaurant

Berkeley Marina

Call to Order


Chair Wolgast called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


1.         Roll Call


COMMISSIONERS PRESENT:            Kamen, Smith, Wolgast, Windham,

Minasian, Kawczynska, Cobb, Ang


COMMISSIONERS ABSENT:            Wozniak


STAFF PRESENT:                              Smith, Marchetti, Gross, McMillan


2.         Public Comment


Mr. Andrew Thomas of the Planning Department made his presentation during the meeting’s Public Comment period so that he could attend a Planning Commission meeting later the same evening.  He presented a proposed schedule for review of the City’s Draft General Plan.  He said the Planning Commission would hold “focused workshops” to which they would invite other commissions to attend depending on the topic.  He said the workshops would culminate in the writing of a plan for City Council approval.  He said the workshops would be noticed as joint meetings of the Planning Commission and whichever other Commission attended.  He said because most of the General Plan’s Waterfront issues are in the “land use element”, the Waterfront Commission would be asked to join the land use workshop. 


Commissioner Kawczynska said that she was concerned about the open space workshop being given to the Parks Commission because most of the City’s open space was within the Waterfront Commission’s area of responsibility.  Mr. Thomas said he would pass her concern to the Planning Commission but that the Planning Commission wanted to avoid duplication of effort by inviting only one other Commission to each workshop.  He advised the Waterfront Commission to identify a subcommittee that might join the Planning Commission at the open space workshop. He said that if as a group the Waterfront Commissioners thought it important to attend both the open space and land use workshops they should so inform the Planning Commission.  Commissioner Kamen noted that there were three months between the open space and the land use workshops so that it would not be a burden on the Waterfront Commission to participate in both.


Commissioner Wolgast asked that a draft of the General Plan be made available before the final version was issued.  Commissioner Cobb said that the Waterfront Commission should develop a consensus on their approach to General Plan issues prior to the workshops.  Commissioner Wolgast suggested putting the Berkeley Master Plan on the agenda for next meeting.  Mr. Thomas offered to come to the next Waterfront Commission meeting to discuss the General Plan further if necessary.


Speaking as a member of the public, Paul Kamen said that he supported staff’s berth rate proposal with the exception of the $5.00 dock box charge.  He said the only compelling argument against a market-based approach would be if the Marina risked pricing itself out of the market.


Bob Griffith said that he had visited many Marinas but had never had to pay for a dock box, keys or possessory interest tax.  He said that these items totaled 17% above the base price in the staff proposal.  He said that there were five items in the proposed schedule that are not charged for at any other Marina except Richmond.  Referring to the minutes of the Commission’s November meeting, he said that he had not said that the fee for the electronic key was too much, but that there should be a deposit required for the key and not a fee.  He said that there had been no notification to the public concerning modifications to the Marina Ordinance.


3.            Approval of the Agenda and Minutes


The Marina Ordinance topic was moved to the first action item.  Commissioner Kawczynska asked that the East Shore State Park issue be discussed upon the arrival of Martin Vitz, the presenter.  The agenda was approved as modified.


Commissioner Smith noted that the minutes of the November meeting concerning the resolution on the living wage concluded with the phrase “including workers at the Berkeley Marina Radisson Hotel” which he deleted from the motion.  He asked staff to make the correction and to reflect the mistake and correction in the minutes for the December meeting.  Commissioner Wolgast asked that the minutes reflect that Bob Griffith had stated that the charge for the keys should be a deposit not a fee.


The Minutes were approved unanimously as corrected.


4.            Amendments to the Marina Ordinance


Cliff Marchetti introduced Zack Cowan and Lindsey Urbina from the City Attorney’s office, and outlined staff’s recommended amendments to the Marina Ordinance including a jet skis ban; authorization to the Marina Supervisor and Waterfront Manager to evict delinquent vessels; lengthening the permitted overhang for some slips; an appeals process; and licensing of charter vessels.  He offered to further refine the amendments and make additional notification of the public based on Commission input. 


Zack Cowan said that inclusion of an appeal process was a consequence of a decision to deal with berthers as licensees rather than lessees.  He said that this precluded a landlord-tenant relationship between bethers and the city.  He said an appeals process was necessary in order to allow berthers due process in appealing revocation of a berthing permit.  Commissioner Wolgast asked if this meant berthers would no longer be required to pay a possessory interest tax.  Mr. Cowan said he was unable to answer off hand but that he could provide a legal opinion if asked.

Commissioner Kamen asked for the timetable for amending the ordinance.  Cliff Marchetti said the timetable would be determined by the amount of discussion required.  Commissioner Wolgast suggested a subcommittee be formed.  Commissioner Kamen said he was not convinced that a subcommittee was necessary.  He said although he had “no major substantive quarrels” with the proposal he was not prepared to vote on the proposed changes because there were a number of details that needed further study.  Commissioner Smith said that he wanted to hear more from the public before adopting changes. 


Commissioner Wolgast said prohibition against swimming, sailing and windsurfing should be extended to the North Sailing Basin.  He thought the appeals procedure put too much of a burden on berthers, and he objected to the hearing officer being appointed by the City Manager.


Bob Griffith asked if the proposed 20-percent overhang was acceptable to the Department of Boating and Waterways, and if there would be any changes to the floating homes policy.  Cliff Marchetti said that there would be no changes.  Brad Gross said that the Department of Boating and Waterways has a minimum required distance between berths which limits overhang in some places.  He said that for some slips the allowable overhang could be extended based on Boating and Waterways requirements.  Commissioner Wolgast suggested a minimum two-foot overhang because many slips have a pile at the end so that if boats stuck out by two feet beyond the end of the slip they would not stick out beyond the pile.


Mr. Joe Wyman of the Hornblower asked that the ordinance amendments be put over for thirty days so that he could make a presentation on what the hornblower pays the Radisson and contributes to the city of Berkeley.  He said that he had not been notified of the amendments until the day before the meeting.  He said he did not object to paying a fee for use of a private dock, but that he would like to know what that the fee is based on. 


Mr. Bob Nakaji and Mr. Dennis Deaver from the Marina’s Bait Shop said the proposed ordinance changes were generally positive.  Mr. Deaver said that there had been a few independent boat operators that the Bait Shop had problems with in the past but that most of the charter fishing vessels cooperate with the Bait Shop.  He said that he had done extensive advertising to increase sport fishing at the Marina and that charter fishing boats that do not do business at the Bait Shop are “basically feeding off the rest”.  He said the amended ordinance would bring all of the charter vessels into compliance.


5.         East Shore State Park


Mr. Martin Vitz gave a presentation on the background and current status of the East Shore State Park.  He said that the area known as the meadows is held jointly by the East Bay Regional Park District and the State.  He said that the California Coastal Conservancy would provide a $500,000 grant for planning.


He said the planning process would be led by an oversight committee which would include representatives from State Parks, two representatives from the Park District, and a representative from the Coastal Conservancy.  He said the Park District is now in the process of recruiting a contract project manager.  The planning itself will be done by a planning consulting firm who will be responsible for planning, public input and the Environmental Impact Report.


He said that whether the East Bay Regional Park District or the State would operate and manage the Park would have to be answered in tandem with the planning process.


Commissioner Kawczynska asked where the oversight committee would meet and with whom they would interface.  She asked that their meetings be widely noticed, and she urged that the identification of citizen groups involved in the process include a wide variety of interests.  Commissioner Smith expressed concern that Citizens for East Shore State Park (CESP) had been identified and funded by the Coastal Conservancy as the primary spokespeople for the public in the park planning process.  He also urged that a wide variety of public interests be included in the planning process.


Paul Kamen suggested that he and the East Bay Regional Park District link their web pages.


Commissioner Cobb suggested that the Commission seek funding for a public information effort on behalf of the Waterfront Commission.


Commissioner Kawczynska asked whether the Park had a position on jet skis, especially in the North Basin.  Mr. Vitz said that neither the park nor the city had jurisdiction over navigable waters, but that he did not know whether the north sailing basin is considered navigable waters.  He noted public’s growing concern over jet skis and suggested that the Parks law enforcement would be willing to cooperate with local enforcement in determining whether a ban was legal and feasible.


6.         Fee Increase


Commissioner Smith chaired the meeting during the discussion of staff’s proposed fee increase.  Commissioner Kawczynska asked for more information on the $5.00 charge for dock boxes. Commissioner Minasian asked why the issue was of such concern to berthers.  Cliff Marchetti said that if the dock box fee were eliminated, berth fees would have to be adjusted to recapture the lost revenue.  Commissioner Smith said that staff’s proposal would increase revenues by over $150,000 and that therefore not all of the revenue lost by elimination of the dock box fee would have to be recouped in order to increase revenue by $150,000.  Hampton Smith explained that the revenue estimate was based on November’s 89% occupancy and that a higher occupancy level would mean higher revenues than the estimate presented to the Commission.  Cliff Marchetti said there is precedence for having a menu style fee schedule that includes optional dock boxes. 


Brad Gross and Cliff Marchetti explained that the proposal for a fee for the electronic keys as opposed to a deposit was motivated by the need to eliminate the extensive work and staff time involved in handling and returning deposits for keys.  He said that the proposal would mean that berthers would buy and own the electronic keys.  Brad Gross said that keys were available to visitors on a short-term basis for a $25 deposit and that these deposits were easier and cheaper to handle because they were not actually deposited in the City’s account.


Cliff Marchetti said that berthers had been noticed early concerning the fee increase proposal in an attempt to solicit as much public input as possible.  He said that despite these efforts only a small number of berthers commenting during the public comment period at the November meeting. 


Motion: (M/S/C Minasian/Kawczynska) to recommend approval of staff’s fee structure and fee increase to the City Council.  Ayes: Smith, Minasian, Kawczynska, Ang, Windham; Noes: None; Recusals: Cobb, Wolgast, Kamen; Absences: Wozniak.


7.            Alternative Funding for Fourth of July Celebration


Cliff Marchetti said that the cost to the Marina Fund for the fireworks display was approximately $50,000.  He said that the City of Albany and the Ladbrook Corporation had declined to share the expense.


Commissioner Smith said that elimination of Marina Fund funding of the fireworks celebration should be recommended as part of the Marina’s budget balancing process.


Commissioner Cobb said that the City Council should consider raising private funds for the fireworks.  She said that it would be difficult to recommend a fee increase while still spending Marina fund monies on the fireworks celebration.


Commissioner Minasian said that he was not prepared to argue that the fireworks should be privately funded but that he was willing to recommend that the fireworks as a discretionary item should not be funded by the Marina Fund. 


Commissioner Cobb said that there were many private entities that were more appropriate funders of the fireworks. 


Motion: (M/S/C Kawczynska/Minasian) Recommend to the City Council deletion of the Marina’s annual July 4th fireworks celebration from the Marina budget.  Ayes: Smith, Cobb, Wolgast, Minasian, Windham, Kamen, Kawczynska, Noes: none; Abstentions: Ang; Absences: Wozniak.


Motion (M/S/C Cobb/Minasian) Write a Commission report to the City Council recommending that the fireworks should be continued but should be funded from a source other than the Marina Fund. Ayes: Smith, Cobb, Wolgast, Minasian, Windham, Kamen, Kawczynska, Ang; Noes: none; Absences: Wozniak.



8.            Aquatic Park Master Plan Update


Heather McMillan updated the Commission on the Aquatic Park Master Plan.  She said one of the major objectives of the Aquatic Park Master Plan was creation of a natural resource management plan to address habitat management and hydrology.  She said a draft of the Master Plan was scheduled for completion for Fall 2000 and that she expected the natural resource management plan would be completed in the Winter of 2000.  She asked for Commission concurrence with the proposals that the Master Plan be adopted as an implementing tool of the general Plan and that the Planning Commission be the lead on land use issues with the Waterfront and Parks Commissions the lead on all other issues. 


She said the order of the goals placed protection of natural resources first followed by (2) increasing the number of users and types of uses; (3) mitigation of negative noises; (4)  improvement of linkages between Aquatic Park and the Waterfront; (5) improvement of circulation and support facilities within the Park for pedestrians, bicycles and wheelchair users;.(6) improvement of Park safety; (7) Development of a realistic and effective Park maintenance program; (8) pursuit of viable funding options to implement goals and strategies.




The meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.