The San Mateo County Harbor District's Board of Harbor Commissioners met Wednesday in Half Moon Bay to discuss the permit approval for the Mavericks Surf Contest and the appropriate method of discounting berthing fees for commercial fishermen.
The pending decision to approve the permit for the Mavericks Surf Contest has caused high tension in the Harbor District due to the competition between the new Mavericks Community, LLC and Mavericks Surf Company, LLC.
At a June 1 meeting, Mavericks Surf Contest founder, Jeff Clark, criticized the permit bid from Mavericks Community, headed by Clark’s ex-wife Katherine Kelly Clark, for the absence of a safety plan and lack of communication with the community.
However, Wednesday night’s meeting produced a more communal atmosphere in the contest to manage this year’s surf contest.
“I’ve been made aware by both applicants that they’re working on creating a single joint unified application,” said Harbor District General Manager Peter Grenell. “We want to give them time to do what they need to do.”
Grenell asked the board to postpone their decision to August 17 in order to approve a comprehensive permit.
“Both applicants have indicated that they want to give us more information,” he said.
One of the applicants was unable to attend the meeting due to travel plans made prior to the scheduled meeting, Grenell said.
“It’s really good news,” said surfer and Princeton business owner Brian Overfelt. “We’re working together to make one permit. I’m really happy about it and there’s been a lot of positive movement.”
The board voted unanimously approved to postpone the decision until August 17.
Grenell commented that throughout the process of collaboration the Harbor District will remain accessible to the applicants.
“We are totally open to whatever communication you need with us,” Grenell said. “We’ll make ourselves available as needed.”
The qualifications of berthing fee discounts came into question after confusion arose amongst commercial fishermen. Board President Pietro Parravano, who owns a boat in the harbor, excused himself to avoid conflict of interest.
“Basically the applications are indicating that there is some confusion on the qualifications being used,” Grenell said.
There are currently two separate systems concerning berthing discounts, he said.
“There was an older set of qualifications in the Harbor District ordinance code,” Grenell said. The Harbor District staff acknowledged the need to have a uniform discount method in the future.
But the larger concern was the implementation of berthing fee increases and the rumors that have circulated between fishermen throughout Half Moon Bay about new criteria for berthing fees and discounts.
“At times like this when tensions are high and not a lot of fish are being caught rumors go far big time,” said fisherman Jim Anderson.
Commissioner James Tucker responded by saying that unless one hears news from the Board of Commissioners they shouldn’t be alarmed by rumors.
“Rumors are rumors can’t control the rumors,” Tucker said.
Grenell offered the suggestion of a payment plan. The commissioners spoke in terms of a possible 24 percent increase to berthing fees for those fishermen who do not qualify for discounts.
“The Harbor District has provided payment plans in the past. These things, for the most part, have been honored and paid off,” Grenell said.
Tucker proposed a 12 percent fee increase this fiscal year and a 12 percent fee increase next year in order to lessen the financial blow to fishermen.
Grenell said this plan sounds “potentially feasible.”
The commissioners decided to allow the staff to look into the potential of Tucker’s proposal and resume discussion at a later time.
The next scheduled San Mateo County Harbor District Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting will be held August 17 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Services Building in South San Francisco.