Ventura boaters hit with slip increase

VENTURA — The five-member agency overseeing the Ventura Port District unanimously voted March 25 to increase slip rates between 8 and 10 percent for recreational users. The increase is the first in two years for Ventura’s Harbor Village Marina.

The Ventura Harbor’s Board of Commissioners also voted to increase commercial slip rates between 8 and 12 percent.

The new recreational slip rates range from $12.11 per foot, per month for a 30-foot boat to $16.29 per foot, per month for a 160-footer. A 35-foot vessel would pay $12.40 per foot, per month, for a recreational slip compared to $12.68 for a 40-footer and $13 for a 45-footer.

Interestingly enough, a 38-foot boat would pay $13.19 per foot, per month — the highest rate for a recreational slip berthing boats between 30 and 45 feet. Most vacant slips, according to harbor staff, are for boats between 35- and 40-feet in length.

Recreational slip rates ranged from $11.21 per foot, per month for a 30-footer to $15.08 per foot, per month for a 160-foot vessel prior to the commission’s decision.

Commissioners requested harbor staff in December 2014 to study slip fees at Harbor Village Marina; harbor staff returned to the commission in March with the proposed slip fee increases.

“When staff compared the current recreational slip rates at Harbor Village Marina to Ventura West Marina I and II, the recreational rates at Harbor Village [were] 16 percent lower than Ventura West Marina I and II. A comparison for recreational slips between Ventura Isle Marine and Harbor Village Marina suggests that slip rates at Harbor Village [were] 33 percent [lower than] Ventura Isle Marina,” harbor staff stated. “The amenities at the privately operated marinas are different than those offered at Harbor Village Marina. However, there is an opportunity to increase the recreational rates at Harbor Village Marina 8 percent to 10 percent.”

Harbor staff predicted the slip fee increase would apply to about 40 slips, half of which were vacant as of last month’s commission meeting.

A fully occupied marina with the increased rates could yield more than $1 million in a 12-month period, according to harbor staff. The current occupancy rate is about 82 percent.

“The lower occupancy level is attributed to the reduction of fish off-loading activity in Ventura Harbor over the last 18 to 24 months,” harbor staff said. “At this level, the projected revenue for the marina in fiscal year 2015-2016 is $871,281. This is a 4.22 increase for the period ending June 30, 2015.”

Slip rates were last increased Sept. 1, 2013. The harbor assesses a commercial rate for commercial fishing uses and a recreational rate for any other use of the county-owned marina. Recreational anglers and boaters make up about 30 percent of all uses at Harbor Village Marina, which is home to 130 slips.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had any increases and we’d like to make some improvements,” said Ventura Harbor’s General Manager Oscar Peña, who added construction is in store for some commercial fishing projects and plans could be in store to improve or reconfigure docks G & H.

Two commercial anglers and a liveaboard addressed the Board of Port Commissioners during the meeting.

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