New West Harbor Marina nears completion as boaters question redesign choices 

click to enlarge The soon-to-be-completed $28 million renovation of the West Harbor Marina will include more space for larger vessels. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • The soon-to-be-completed $28 million renovation of the West Harbor Marina will include more space for larger vessels.

It’s been almost 10 years in the making, but by early next year the West Harbor Marina near Marina Green is expected to have new docks, more boat slips and much-needed sand removal.

But while there is consensus on the need for upgrades, not all boaters agree with the plans or the new configuration.

Howard Strassner, who owns a 20-foot sailboat, said he worries that small boaters will be pushed out because the new docks range from 25 to 90 feet.

“Small boats add a small charm to the Bay,” he said. “We’re not the 1 percent. [The City] used a study that showed no one wants less than a 30-foot boat, but we’re in a recession. They’re overlooking small-boat owners.”

Sarah Ballard, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department, said the change in dock length is a reflection of the evolving boating community. Switching from smaller to larger slips was born out of a study by the California Coastal Commission that said larger berths are in demand.

But Bruce Stone, president of the SF Marina Harbor Association, said the need for such large berths remains to be seen.

“State analysis doesn’t necessarily apply to the microclimate of the Bay Area,” he said.

Discussions to replace wooden docks with concrete ones, dredge sand out of the area and replace the breakwater perimeter to protect the harbor began nearly 10 years ago.

Completion of the $28 million project is expected next month. Slip assignments for both returning and new boats hoping to obtain a spot are set to begin in early January.

According to Stone, the slip assignments and new rules and regulations — including that owners can no longer sell their slips — are of concern to him and his fellow boaters. He said the association and The City are in a legal battle over the new rules.

“We are meeting with The City to mediate the differences with these rules and regulations,” Stone said.

Stone also said boaters have taken issue with the configuration of the docks and the location of the cleats that tie a boat to a dock.

“The configuration is worse, there are fewer gates to get to boats and there are much longer walks to get to boats,” he said. “The City doesn’t have experience designing marinas.”

But not everyone in the boating community shares that sentiment. Golden Gate Yacht Club Commodore Norbert Bajurin said the improvements are going to benefit the harbor.

“It’s a long time coming,” Bajurin said. “We are very happy with the plans.”

There will be 385 slips in the West Harbor, including 34 for overnight visitors and temporary docking. That’s an increase from the current 326.

Assignment priority will be given to longtime leaseholders, those who have been docked there since before the new configuration was conceived. The remaining slips will be given to those on a waitlist.

Rec and Park officials said there are currently 229 people on that list. More than half are requesting docks of less than 50 feet in length, including 44 for a 30-foot slip and 13 for a 25-footer.

“The goal is to have a mix of all types of vessels,” Ballard said. “Given its location and beauty, there is always going to be high demand. Our goal is to have this mix, but also to increase public access to the waterfront.”

Space at the new West Harbor

  • Slips: 385 — includes 34 for overnight visitors and temporary docking
  • Boaters on waitlist: 229

Boats waiting for a spot, by size:

  • 25 feet     13
  • 30 feet     44
  • 35 feet     42
  • 40 feet     55
  • 45 feet    20
  • 50 feet     24
  • 60 feet    15
  • 70 feet     4
  • 80 feet     7
  • 90 feet     5

Source: Recreation and Park Department

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