Renovation plans for Shelter Island boat launch ramp inches ahead

SAN DIEGO — Shelter Island is on track to receive a new public boat launch ramp within the next two years thanks to a pair of items approved by the Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners on Jan. 12.

Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the boat launch ramp’s Final Mitigated Negative Declaration and amend the Port Master Plan to facilitate the project. The document validates the new Shelter Island boat launch ramp will not have significantly adverse impacts to the environment.

Plans to build the new boat launch ramp at Shelter Island must still be presented in front of the California Coastal Commission. The new boat launch ramp could be operational in late 2017 or early 2018.

The project is expected to cost about $9.35 million to complete. The Division of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) awarded the port $6.1 million in grant funding about two months ago.

A new boat launch ramp at Shelter Island will have several benefits for boaters and small craft users, according to port staff.

“The project is intended to provide accessibility for users with disabilities, to provide more navigable water area within the existing breakwater basin to launch and retrieve boats, to improve boat maneuverability, to reduce boat congestion and to improve boat safety and operations,” port staff stated.

Port staff added the current boat launch ramp is deteriorating and dilapidated.

“The [boat launch ramp], which was constructed in 1956 and last upgraded in 2005, is in need of renovation due to the corrosive and wearing actions of seawater, heavy uses by boaters, increased congestion and delays when launching boats in the limited basin area, and limited boat access during low tide,” port staff stated.

Work on a new boat launch ramp will include necessary repairs and upgrades to the ramp, jetties, public walkways, gangways, floating docks and kayak launching area. The adjacent parking and restrooms will be updated, as well, according to port staff. Plans specifically call for the existing ramp and floating docks to be demolished and replaced. The new boat launch venue will also include a comfort station, new landscaping, outdoor showers and public art.

Adding a kayak launching area would minimize interference with motorboats, port staff stated.

Commissioner Dan Malcolm said an upgraded Shelter Island boat launch ramp would give boaters and other small craft users greater access to San Diego Bay.

“This is the launch ramp for boaters to get out into our bay, whether they be commercial boaters, whether they be recreational boaters. It’d be very difficult to find a launch ramp with more volume … in the state of California,” Malcolm said.
Malcolm pointed out a new beach area would be located next to the launch ramp. The new beach area, he added, would promote kayak use in upper San Diego Bay.

Construction could start in early 2017 and will require six to 10 months to complete. The current boat launch ramp would be closed to the public during construction; boaters will be redirected to other public launch ramps in Mission Bay.

Shelter Island’s boat launch ramp is free to the public and services about 50,000 boat launches annually. The new boat ramp launch ramp will continue to feature 10 lanes; however the new ramp will be 18,430 square feet, more than 2,300 square feet larger than the current structure.

The boat launch ramp is located at 2210 Shelter Island Drive in San Diego.

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