Future of King Harbor’s boat launch area still shifting

Redondo Beach continues to look at changing course on planned ramp.

REDONDO BEACH — Momentum surrounding plans for a new boat launch ramp appears to be shifting in a new direction at Redondo Beach’s King Harbor. A proposal for a new boat launch ramp to be built at an area some boaters and marine professionals argued was unsafe appears to be dissipating in favor of establishing the boater amenity at another – arguably safer – location.

Redondo Beach’s Harbor Commission is in the process of vetting whether King Harbor’s Mole C would be an ideal location for a proposed boat launch ramp. Recent iterations of a revitalized King Harbor targeted Mole B as where the ramp should be built.

The Harbor Commission revisited boat launch ramp plans at its July 10 meeting, about one month after the local City Council voted to reconsider where the boater amenity should be built.

Revisiting where the boat launch ramp would be built indicates a potential change of course for the Harbor Commission, which voted in favor of having the boater amenity at Mole B in October 2016.

Harbor Commissioners are expected to hold another public hearing on the issue, hoping to properly flesh out the discussion before (potentially) making a recommendation. A commission recommendation could come as early as September.

A group of local boating advocates, citing the opinions of former harbor patrol officers and similar marine professionals, have consistently argued Mole B is an unsafe location for a boat launch ramp. Nearly a dozen boaters reiterated this position at the July 10 Harbor Commission meeting.

Whether the boat launch ramp should be at Mole B or C has been up for debate for quite some time. Some city leaders and harbor managers supported Mole B as an ideal location for the ramp. The city, local leaders and officials argued, could build a ramp at Mole B faster and cheaper than at any location.

Proponents for a ramp at Mole C, however, said a boat launch ramp at Mole B would be unsafe, as the amenity would immediately expose boaters to vessels navigating in the harbor’s main channel.

Lack of sufficient parking and potential loss of existing boat slips were among other expressed concerns directed toward plans to build the boat launch ramp at Mole B.

The city held numerous workshops throughout 2016 to flesh out which Mole – A, B or C – would ultimately house a boat launch ramp, an amenity local boaters have been without for decades.

City staff stated a boat launch ramp at Mole B would cost about $6 million to build; the annual budget to operate a Mole B launch ramp was estimated to be $82,000. Similar numbers were not available for a boat launch ramp at Mole C.

Where the boat launch ramp would ultimately be built remains uncertain, and the process will still take a few more months to play out. The Harbor Commission could make a recommendation at its September meeting, yet the directive must be voted on by Redondo Beach’s City Council before it is considered official – and even then, things can change, as events of the past 10 months have proved.

Parimal M Rohit photo

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