Coastside Dems Support Local Control of the Harbor District

Letter sent in support of the Harbor District:

July 13, 2015

Subject: SMCHD MSR & SOI Update

To: LAFCo Commissioners and Executive Director

From: Coastside Democrats Board, William Kehoe, President

Honorable Commissioners and Executive Director Poyatos On behalf of the Board of the Coastside Democrats,

I wish to inform you that we are in full support of the duly elected Harbor Commissioners and feel that they need to be given an adequate amount of time to correct the mismanagement of past administrations. Many of us have been working over a decade to clean up the harbors both physically and financially through the electoral process and we see the new Commissioners working to accomplish our shared goals. Coastside Democrats requests that LAFCo maintain the SMCo Harbor District sphere of influence and support the voters of San Mateo County.

There are many just points raised in both the SMC Grand Jury Report and the LAFCo MSR & SOI Update, a few of which we support and wish to emphasize are listed below:

  • Improvement of infrastructure and facility, better maintenance and capital projects to enhance the safety and operations of the harbor.
  • Implementing a capital improvement plan and accounting system, including a five year ‐ Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that is reflected in the budget.
  • Add a cost accounting system to track cost for enterprise versus non-enterprise.

Keep in mind that many of the grievances mentioned in your update have been ongoing for a decade or more and are the results of previous administrations. The newly elected Harbor Board (Jan 2015) has already taken steps to bring cost controls to the District:

  • Stop paying Health Insurance Benefits for Commissioners, upon commencement of reelected Commissioner’s new term of office.
  • The board voted unanimously to support relocating the District’s headquarters near Pillar Point Harbor.

And the new board voted unanimously to designate the Harbor District as the lead agency in the sand replenishment effort at Surfer’s Beach. As you may know, had previous Boards or San Mateo County taken this action when the community requested it many years ago, the County would not be in the position now of scrambling to shore up Hwy 1 at this location at a great cost to the California taxpayers.

There are other issues which you should consider, as referenced in your update, when you consider your service review. You cite 56430 (a) (2) “The location and characteristics of any disadvantaged unincorporated communities within or contiguous to the sphere of influence”. As you know, Pillar Point Harbor on the San Mateo County coast is a major source of jobs both in the fishing industry and the tourism trade. Over half the population on the Coastside resides in the unincorporated area surrounding the harbor. There are many people dependent on the health and functions of a strong Harbor District, as well as many visitors to this area.

The County, due to its structure, complexity and breath of services, has historically been unable to meet the specific needs of each of its unincorporated neighborhood communities. Likewise, we think it will be unlikely to balance and adequately prioritize the competing demands of a harbor district. Let me remind you that Granada Sanitary District (Granada Community Services District) and the Montara Sanitary District (Montara Water and Sanitary District) were formed to provide the unincorporated communities with needed services when the County decided not to do so.

Finally, any discussions on changing the structure and make up of the Board will be monitored carefully and will be scrutinized to ensure that the will of the voters of San Mateo County is not undermined.

Please include this letter in the Commission packet.

Sincerely, William Kehoe President, Coastside Democrats