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Committee Says 'No' to Slip Transfer Policy Change

posted: 10/10/2012
OCEANSIDE -- Proposals for a change to Oceanside Harbor’s existing slip transfer system were rejected at the Harbor Advisory Committee’s Sept. 27 meeting, putting to rest an issue that had many slip tenants nervous.            

The issue arose when harbor officials began looking into complaints arising from boaters on the marina’s slip waiting list regarding potential abuse of the slip transfer system that made slip openings take even longer.            

The system currently in place allows boat owners to transfer their slip lease to a buyer when they sell their boat, allowing boat buyers to avoid the waiting list and making boats in the harbor easier to sell.            

There are currently about 63 individuals on the harbor’s waiting list. It usually takes about two to three years for 30-foot and smaller slips to open, and upward of seven to 10 years for slips larger than 40 feet to become available.            

Oceanside Harbor and Beaches director Frank Quan said some boaters see problems in the existing slip transfer policy, which can allow rundown boats to sell for more than their actual value because of the slip transferability that comes with the purchase. Buyers of a rundown boat can pay a transfer fee, remove the old boat, and place a new boat in the harbor -- effectively circumventing the slip waiting list process.            

“There are some rare occurrences of abuse of the slip transfer (policy), where we might see an ad on Craigslist for a slip for sale,” Quan said. “But I don’t know if that warrants doing away with the slip transfer entirely.”            

Harbor Advisory Committee member Jim Jenkins said it was important to keep slip transfer capability for Oceanside Harbor. He warned that removing the exiting transfer rules would make selling boats in the 900-slip marina very difficult in the future, if boat buyers had to find a slip following their boat purchase.            

“You have to be able to buy a boat at the same time that you can get a slip,” said Oceanside Harbor slip tenant Steve Smith. “When you finally have an opportunity to get a slip, the chance to buy the boat might be gone.”            

Smith used the slip transfer program when he bought an older vessel in the harbor and transferred its slip to a boat he had purchased in Dana Point. He had a boat broker in Oceanside sell the older vessel for him.            

Jenkins also commented on the positives the program brings to Oceanside Harbor -- facilitating the removal of older and rundown boats in the harbor, which are then replaced by the new boats that have been purchased and transferred to the old slip.            

“With the slip transferability, boat owners who want to get their vessel in the harbor can purchase an older vessel, transfer their boat into that slip, pay the fee and are then responsible to remove the old boat,” Jenkins said. If the transfer program is removed, removal of derelict or abandoned boats in the harbor could become a costly endeavor that the city would be burdened with, he added.            

Quan estimated boat removal and demolition costs at about $2,000 to $5,000 per boat, with one or two vessels abandoned each year at Oceanside Harbor.            

Jenkins added that if slip transferability was removed, more boaters with older vessels trying to sell would end up abandoning their boats, since new boat owners wouldn’t have the ability to switch out their boat and avoid the wait list.            

“This item has come up because of one or two complaints of people on the wait list, really,” said Oceanside Harbor liveaboard Dave Albert. “They knew the system when they put their name on that list, and changing how you operate a good, free system for the entire harbor because of a few complaints isn’t for the best.”            

The committee voted unanimously for no change of the slip transfer program.

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