Redondo Beach Harbor Commission recommends hibernating some moorings instead of removing

The city began discussing removing some of the moorings from the field of 25 during the Fiscal Year 2020/21 budget process after numbers showed they were underutilized and cost more to maintain than the amount of revenue they generated.

REDONDO BEACH—The Redondo Beach Harbor Commission has unanimously supported a staff recommendation not to remove any of the 25 transient vessel moorings in the main harbor channel, but instead hibernate some of the moorings to reduce maintenance costs. In June 2020, the City Council directed staff to investigate the feasibility and potential cost savings of removing some of the moorings. Staff presented their findings to the Harbor Commission at its Jan. 11 meeting and will now present their recommendation to the City Council for a final decision.

“When we look at the numbers, we don’t see a real big cost savings [of removing the moorings] if we can reduce our maintenance expenses,” Waterfront Director Stephen Proud said at the Jan. 11 meeting.

According to numbers from Leonardo Management, the property management company which oversees the moorings, in 2018, 3.7 percent of the available mooring days were used and in 2019, 7.4 percent of the available mooring days were used. Total revenues collected for mooring rentals in 2018 were $9,036, $17,556 in 2019 and $18,618 in 2020 through November. The current cost to maintain the moorings through an outside contract is roughly $60,000 per year.

The moorings were installed in the harbor in 2014, partly funded by a grant from California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW), which required the mooring field to be in place for 20 years. Since the installation of the moorings was partly funded by a DBW grant, approval from DBW would be needed to remove any of the 25 units.

City staff initially contacted DBW in June 2020 to discuss the feasibility of removing moorings as a cost cutting measure. DBW responded in October 2020 and indicated that they would allow some or all of the moorings to be removed.

However, removal of the moorings would require the city to refund a prorated amount of grant funding based on the portion of the 20-year grant period the moorings were not in place. There is approximately 14 years left on the grant term and staff determined if the city were to remove all 25 moorings, they would need to reimburse DBW $129,000. Staff said there would also be an additional cost for the work of physically removing the moorings. Staff did not present costs for removing only some of the moorings.

Staff also evaluated alternatives and found they could reduce the cost of maintaining the moorings by $30,000 by making some of the moorings disabled. Some of the mooring lines would be dropped to the bottom and rendered unusable.

“We will keep our regularly quarterly scheduled cleanings for the remaining 10 or 12 or whatever we decide on,” Leonardo Marina Management Property Manager Craig Stanton said at the Jan. 11 Harbor Commission meeting. “The rest of the annual mooring underwater inspections will still be included in that $30,000 price and we’ll also keep an eye on the ones that are disabled just to make sure they’re not getting heavy growth.”

Staff calculated that at an annual maintenance rate of $30,000, offset by projected revenues, it would cost $154,000 over 14 years to keep the moorings in place with some periodically idle.

“From our perspective as staff, we don’t particularly think that it’s a worthwhile endeavor for us to take a public amenity that’s within the harbor, and for what really amounts to at this point a $10,000 a year subsidy, if we can reduce that maintenance contract by $30,000 a year,” Proud said.

The commission seemed to agree they did not want to pay back grant funds to DBW if there were other ways to keep the moorings and save costs.

“I am completely comfortable hibernating whatever moorings is deemed prudent but keeping the entire mooring field alive and well,” Commissioner Matt Kilroy said at the Jan. 11 meeting.

Kilroy made a motion to recommend the City Council not remove any moorings permanently and to let staff determine how many moorings to hibernate in any given quarter to reduce maintenance expenses. It was unanimously supported by the commission. Proud said they would incorporate their recommendation in their upcoming presentation to the City Council.

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