Harbor Commission will get at least one outside member this year

By on Fri, September 3, 2010

Whatever the outcome of November’s election, we’ll see a new member of the Harbor Commission. There are four candidates, including one incumbent, for two open seats. Commissioners are elected by the entire county, but through its management of Pillar Point Harbor, the commission has an outsized impact on the Coastside—particularly El Granada. Because of the cost of county-wide campaigns, the Commission has been virtually impregnable to challengers.

The County Times has a good review of the race.

All four candidates say it’s paramount to encourage people to go to both harbors and patronize local restaurants and bars, rent berths and use the launch ramps. Pillar Point in particular has been hit hard by the recession. ┬áBusinesses are suffering, and so is the commercial fishing fleet. Neither harbor is fully occupied.

[Incumbent Jim] Tucker is a former mayor of Daly City. He said he will help keep the Harbor District running smoothly in light of major changes in the next four years at Oyster Point. The South City marina will add a major ferry terminal with service to the East Bay by the end of 2011. The ferry will help commuters leave their cars at home. "That opens up a whole plethora of ideas," Tucker said. "God forbid we have an earthquake, and bridges went down. We can develop a whole system on the Bayside where we can use the ferry service for everything."

Tucker would also like to see a new office complex built at Pillar Point for the Harbor District staff, and he talks about attracting officers from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which may have an interest in studying the area.

[William] Klear takes that vision a step further. He would like to see schools such as UC San Francisco set up labs at Pillar Point. A former management executive with United Airlines, Klear also wants the district to explore the possibility of harnessing wind power technology at Oyster Point as well as solar power and tidal power at Pillar Point. The harbors could use the power and sell it back to the grid, he said.

"If we don’t develop these harbors, we could actually lose that resource that was built 50 years ago," Klear said. "Commercial developers could move in there and build hotels or condos. That’s what I want to avoid."

[Robert] Bernardo said people should vote for him because he lives in South San Francisco and would represent a voice for Oyster Point Harbor. A media relations manager at the Port of Oakland and a South City planning commissioner, Bernardo has spent many years volunteering for civic groups. He said his management skills make him qualified to make "tough choices" with respect to budgeting and rental rates.

Bernardo would make it a priority to protect harbor tenants from losing their businesses, which could create a destructive chain reaction. An empty storefront is a major no-no when it comes to attracting tourist dollars, he said. "I feel that right now we’re all in a holding pattern, and it’s important that if any business leaves or goes under, that’s not good for the rest," said Bernardo. "If that means having to consider a rent reduction just to keep them afloat, I think that’s important. We deal with similar situations here where I work."

[Sabrina] Brennan said Pillar Point Harbor and its environs already have everything needed to attract visitors: kayaking, coastal trails and excellent surfing. And most people know that during Dungeness crab season, fishermen sell fresh crab right off their boats.

Brennan would like to use social media to advertise the harbor’s fresh catch of the day and update the district’s website to make it more marketing-driven. She also suggested adding a coupon for a local business to the receipt boaters get when they use the boat launch at Pillar Point.

"It would be simple and easy to do," Brennan said.