Boat Storage: A Not-So-Cut-And-Dry Stack
Dry stack boat storage is supposed to help make boating affordable, but will new projects drive costs higher?
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — Harbors up and down the Southern California coast are either being revitalized or primed for future redevelopment. Some of these redevelopment projects include plans to offer dry stack boat storage space to boaters. Including infrastructure at local harbors for dry stack boat storage could be a way to make boating more affordable, though boaters in Marina del Rey have been arguing otherwise recently.
Ensuring dry stack boat storage space as an affordable alternative to potentially pricier wet slips means constant communication with your local and regional planners or elected officials. Elected supervisors in Los Angeles and Orange counties, for example, have held public hearings of revitalization projects at Marina del Rey and Dana Point Harbor. Some of these hearings have involved dry stack boat storage proposals.
One of those proposals was in front of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in late October.
Supervisors failed to take any action on a proposed six-level, 70-foot-high dry stack boat storage venue in Marina del Rey. The “Boat Central” project, which was on the supervisors’ Oct. 25 agenda, also includes plans for 134 vehicle parking spaces, 20 mast-up storage spots, waterside queuing docks, public promenade and a 3,070-square-foot, two-story building.
More than 90 feet of the storage structure would protrude from land and hang over water, according to plans.
The Boat Central proposal has been in the works since at least 2007 and remains stalled in the public process. County supervisors, in failing to take any action on the proposal during their Oct. 25 meeting, referred the project back to the Department of Beaches and Harbors for further review.
A few weeks earlier the county’s Small Craft Harbor Commission did not muster enough votes to grant Boat Central’s developer a lease option agreement. The agreement was necessary for the developer to move ahead with design plans and eventual construction.
Boat Central’s plans call for an automated multistory storage structure partially built over water. The structure would include automated cranes capable of lifting recreational boats out of the water and placing them into an elevated dry slip.
Members of the Small Craft Harbor Commission said the intent of a dry stack structure was to make Marina del Rey more accessible to small boat owners.
Some local community members, however, labeled Boat Central as a boat valet.
Marina del Rey Lessee Association President David O. Levine sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in March to express concerns about Boat Central.
“The association continues to believe that the Boat Central project remains an inappropriate use of Basin H in that the project will be built to a height of over 80 feet and extending up to 97 feet over the water, thereby impeding the access of boaters to the adjacent public launch ramp and to the adjacent anchorages,” Levine wrote. “The Boat Central project has been on the drawing board for nearly 13 years, and in the intervening time the demand for dry boat stack storage has lessened considerably.”
Levine cited a Department of Beaches and Harbors slip report stating a 12.6 percent vacancy of wet slips in November 2015.
“The vacancy rate is much higher for small slips: 26.4 percent for slips 18 to 25 feet in size,” Levine stated.
He added, while small boat owners are prime candidates for dry vessel storage, the availability of right-sized wet slips in Marina del Rey means there is no urgency to build Boat Central.
“While the smaller boats are candidates for dry stack storage, the ready availability of wet slips makes it unlikely that demand for dry stack storage will be significant, especially at rental rates projected by the developer to be much higher than wet slips,” Levine said in his letter.
Unfortunately price comparisons are not readily available or easily discernable, especially since final plans for Boat Central or Back Bay Landing have not yet been executed.
Boaters in Redondo Beach, unlike their counterparts in Marina del Rey, are not debating boat storage venues. There are no dry stack boat storage plans in CenterCal’s “Waterfront” project, which plans to update Redondo Beach’s harbor area.
Boat storage facilities are readily available near marinas in San Pedro (Cabrillo Dry Boat) and Long Beach (Alamitos Bay Dry Boat Storage, Marine Stadium Dry Boat Storage, Peninsula Sandstake).
Two new dry stack boat storages are in the works in Orange County. The Back Bay Landing project at Newport Beach Harbor includes dry stack boat storage in its plans. Another dry stack boat storage, complete with 493 spaces, is planned for boaters at Dana Point Harbor as part of Orange County’s long-awaited revitalization project.
At least one proposed harbor redevelopment does not include plans for dry stack boat storage. CenterCal Properties’ “Waterfront” project at Redondo Beach’s King Harbor would bring multiple new uses to a dilapidated coastal zone, but South Bay area boaters will not have access to dry stack boat storage venues.
Boaters in Newport Beach could soon have an enclosed boat storage structure in place, as the city prepares to move forward with the Back Bay Landing project. The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Back Bay Landing stated up to 140 vessels, between 20 and 40 feet in length, could be housed in an enclosed boat storage structure.
Back Bay Landing’s boat storage structure would be accessed from a small water inlet, according to the EIR. Concierge and provisioning services would be available to boaters.
In Dana Point, Orange County officials have been planning to build a 493-space boat storage structure as part of the local revitalization project.
A study released by county officials in 2012 suggested a revitalized Dana Point Harbor would likely feature a five-level, 50,000-square-foot boat storage building instead of a 393,000-square-foot storage deck.
The revitalization project slowed down, in part, because local interests claimed plans would result in a loss of dry boat storage.
County officials appear primed to move forward with the revitalization project, though dry stack boat storage has been a topic of discussion at recent South Coast Water District (SCWD) meetings.
A Request for Proposals, issued by the county Oct. 19, stated the dry stock storage would include 516 surface spaces.