Westpoint Harbor (WPH), in development over the past 20 years, is the San Francisco Bay’s newest marina but it is now facing severe fines and punitive actions by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) that jeopardize the marina’s continued ability to operate and support the public’s access to the Bay. The WPH website is linked to here and if you don’t know the marina or its owner, Mark Sanders, you may read this 2015 article about both marina and owner. We first met the owner of WPH in 2012 and when we re-visited the Bay area in 2016 we decided to stay at this safe marina largely because we appreciated the friendly owners who happened to also have a penchant for preserving traditional wooden boats and soundly conserving the Bay environment.
This Thursday, November 16, 2017, WPH will appear for a public hearing in front of the BCDC Enforcement Committee. Public input and oversight of the enforcement process can help assure the BCDC actions are appropriate to the situation and in the best interests of the public and the environment. Your help is needed to that end.
The hearing is taking place because BCDC staff brought an enforcement action against WPH, alleging the marina violated a number of its BCDC permit conditions. Disputes between the marina and BCDC have escalated for over a decade. As part of this current enforcement action, BCDC staff seeks to require major changes at the harbor, issue a cease and desist order against the marina, and pay a penalty of more than half a million dollars. The marina owner is vigorously contesting BCDC staff’s claims and maintains that the allegations are false. The marina owner is not a big faceless corporation, but just a regular boater who, in retirement, wanted to improve Bay boating and create an environmentally sound marina environment for other boaters to enjoy. This is another story of the small guy and the public interest getting buried in the red tape of big government agendas.
Westpoint Harbor’s “statement of defense” was submitted to BCDC last month and can be downloaded from BCDC’s website here. The BCDC staff allegations and the proposed “cease and desist and civil penalty order” are available here.
Letters from concerned boaters and all members of the public can prompt the government agency to act on behalf of the public, thoughtfully, rather than rubber-stamping fines punitively against the marina owner and ultimately to the harm of both the general public and the boating community.
Our own assessment of the situation is that the Westpoint Harbor owners and employees have consistently taken actions to protect and improve the Bay environment, foster and encourage Bay access by pedestrians and boaters alike, protect the personal and boating safety of boaters in the harbor, and encourage safe boating in the San Francisco Bay. The information linked to in the hearing documents above presents as a series of arbitrary and capricious actions on the part of the BCDC that simultaneously harm public access to the Bay while purposefully seeking to undermine the success of a privately owned marina. It presents as government at its worst.
We can’t stand by and let such unjust actions take place. Input to BCDC from the public is needed, now. David and I are writing a letter requesting the BCDC staff stop the nonsense and work with the marina to the benefit of the public and the environment. You can do the same. If you are in the area, you can attend the enforcement hearing.
What can you do?
If you wish to show your support for Westpoint Harbor, you can comment on the proceeding by sending an email addressed to the “Enforcement Committee Members” and the “BCDC Commissioners.” The email can be sent to BCDC’s legal counsel, Marc Zeppetello, at firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to email@example.com. You can include “Westpoint Harbor Proposed Order No. CDO 2017.04” to easily identify what your comments are about.
2. Attend the hearing
If you would like to attend the Enforcement Committee hearing, it is open to members of the public. It will be held on November 16, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Milton Mark Conference Center, Monterey Room, Basement Level, San Francisco, CA 94102.
3. Why do anything?
WHY take action? Because the only way to protect the rights of the public and the Bay environment is to speak up. Let the BCDC know that the WPH is important to us all.
If you are a member of the public who enjoys kayaking, SUP, boat launching, or other public access activities at the Westpoint Harbor, please send an email or letter of support to BCDC stating as such.
If you are a boater who has visited the harbor or who plans to do so some day, please provide an email or letter of support to the same.
If you are concerned about big government bullying private citizens and businesses, please send an email to BCDC asking those concerns to be addressed.
If you are concerned about government waste, fraud and abuse within BCDC, please send an email asking those concerns to be addressed.
Thanks so much!
Sample Email–If you don’t know what to write, consider this a start:
To the BCDC Enforcement Committee:
In the matter of Westpoint Harbor Proposed Order No. CDO 2017.04, I am writing to express my support for the Westpoint Harbor (WPH) marina and request that BCDC carefully consider all options to work with the marina to achieve the public access and environmental goals of this privately funded marina.
I have accessed the Bay via the WPH walkways, boat launch, docks, or other facilities at WPH 1529 Seaport Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063.
It appears that BCDC permit requirements, including those for unbounded public pedestrian access, at WPH were put in place to provide an enforcement trigger rather than to enhance the benefits of the public or environment.
I believe that WPH owners and employees have consistently taken actions to protect and improve the Bay environment, foster and encourage Bay access by pedestrians and boaters alike, protect the personal security and boating safety of boaters in the harbor, and encourage safe boating in the San Francisco Bay.
It greatly concerns me that the BCDC appears to have undertaken a series of arbitrary and capricious actions that simultaneously harm public access to the Bay while purposefully seeking to cause financial harm and undermine the success of a privately owned marina.
Please start the process of working WITH the WPH marina for successful Bay access and conservation rather than trying to shut down the excellent public access and environmental improvements to the Bay at the site of the WPH.
phone or email,