Santa Barbara Harbor Commission creates committee for slip assignments

Three commissioners nominated to serve on the new committee, which is expected to hold its first public meeting on Oct. 28.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated. Santa Barbara City Hall has informed The Log that the newly formed committee will meet at 4 p.m. on Oct. 28. 

SANTA BARBARA—The Santa Barbara Harbor Commission created an ad hoc committee to review the city’s slip assignment policy and associated transfer fees. Three members of the commission were also nominated to serve on the Slip Assignment Policy ad hoc committee.

Commissioners created the ad hoc committee at their Sept. 17 Harbor Commission meeting.

Commissioners Michael Nelson, John Stedman and Jim Sloan volunteered to serve on the ad hoc committee. Ad hoc committee members can only have three members; an item considered during committee meetings could already have a majority vote before reaching the commission if the committee has four members.

Laurie Rafferty, a local boat owner, told commissioners many Santa Barbara boaters are keenly interested in the policies this ad hoc committee would advance to the commission.

“I would like to know your schedule. I would like to know who’s going to serve on it and I would like to know how the public can meet with you and have input,” Rafferty told commissioners. “It’s a super important topic to many of us, that we keep pursuing. So please explain the whole process.”

“The public should certainly know all of those things,” Commission Chair Lang Sligh said in response.

Waterfront Director Mike Wiltshire said the committee should begin meeting soon.

“Now that the subcommittee is formed, I’ll kind of act as point,” Wiltshire told commissioners. “I’ll send out an email to the subcommittee and try to find a time that’s not only reasonable for the subcommittee but also reasonable for members of the public, in hopes people can access it.

“The way the public will access [the committee meetings] is the same way we’re accessing this meeting today,” Wiltshire continued. “In Covid times, everything is still virtual.”

Wiltshire added no date for the first ad hoc committee meeting had been selected (as of Sept. 17). Details about the first ad hoc meeting (and a possible schedule for future meetings) will be reported in The Log as soon as the information is made available from Wiltshire or the Waterfront Department office.

Commissioners floated the idea of creating a slip assignment policy committee at their July meeting. City staff was directed to look into creating a Slip Assignment Policy committee and present the matter to commissioners on Sept. 17.

Wiltshire, during the commission’s July meeting, noted the transfer and assignment policies were complex and imperfect.

Slip permit transfers, according to a city staff report submitted to commissioners earlier this, limits the availability of and equal access to slips for members of the general public. A slip transfer fee, according to Wiltshire, was imposed to control demand, limiting private party influence over slips,

Somewhere between 6 and 8 percent of the Waterfront Department’s operating budget comes from slip permit transfer fee revenues. These revenues help cover operation expenses and harbor maintenance.

Santa Barbara’s Waterfront Department implemented a slip assignment policy in 1975 and slip transfer fee in 1982; both policies are codified in the Santa Barbara Municipal Code.

There are now seven subcommittees for the Santa Barbara Harbor Commission: budget; chartering and business activity permits; parking; request for proposal selection; sea level rise adaptation; and, slip assignment policy.

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