Santa Barbara Slip Assignment Policy Subcommittee to Bring Recommendations to the Harbor Commission

The subcommittee is expected to bring suggested policy revisions to the full commission in August.

SANTA BARBARA一 A subcommittee that has been looking into Santa Barbara’s slip assignment policy is expected to make a recommendation to the full Harbor Commission at its August meeting.

“We may be reaching a good point to kind of take this full topic back to the full Harbor Commission to ensure that we’re on track,” said Mike Wiltshire, Santa Barbara waterfront director, at a July 15 subcommittee meeting.

The Santa Barbara Harbor Commission created the Slip Assignment Policy on Sept. 17, 2020, to address policy concerns that had been raised by slip tenants and investigate ways of improving the policy. Concerns included the cost of the slip transfer fee, the inability to add an adult family member to a slip permit without paying a transfer fee, and concerns about paying a county possessory interest tax. The subcommittee met on July 15 and agreed on plans to present findings and recommendations to the full Harbor Commission in August.

The transfer fee currently ranges from $200 a foot for slips less than 20 feet to $525 a foot for slips between 35 feet and 100 feet. The waterfront bases the cost of the transfer fee on private market value, with the fee ranging from 5 to 35 percent of the market value of the slips. The subcommittee plans to suggest restructuring this fee.

“This is kind of one of the big ideas that we’ve been working on over the last year and it’s really the idea of changing the structure of the slip permit transfer fees to be more proportional and kind of potentially be based on the market value of the slip permits,” said Wiltshire.

The commission would still need to figure out a method of determining market values and decide on an implementation timeline.

The subcommittee will also present findings on the two other concerns. Assistant City Attorney at the City of Santa Barbara Sarah Knecht said at the July 15 meeting they have determined adding a family member at a discounted rate violates the city’s legal obligation under the Tidelands Trust and said the California State Lands Commission has agreed with that conclusion.

“It’s our duty to take that responsibility and look at it for benefit for all the citizens of the state and not particular users,” said Knecht.

The subcommittee also agreed even though the harbor community wants something done about the county possessory interest tax, it is not in their purview.

The Santa Barbara Harbor Commission is scheduled to meet on Aug. 19.

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