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Berkeley Marina at Crisis Point?

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  • Berkeley Marina at Crisis Point?

    Berkeleyside's Tony Hicks reports on the status of The Berkeley Marina

    In debt and in urgent need of investment, Berkeley waterfront is at a ‘crisis point’

    Berkeley Marina: The city’s waterfront will be insolvent by 2020 if urgent action is not taken, according to a new report. Photo: betsysaur

    Berkeley’s waterfront is at a “crisis point,” running about $1 million in debt, and will be “insolvent” by 2020 if the city doesn’t take fast action.

    According to a report released Monday for the City Council, City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley said the Marine Enterprise Fund – which manages waterfront revenues and expenditures — can no longer support the Marina’s basic operating costs and maintenance.

    Current annual revenues of $6.2 million lag behind the Marina’s $7.2 million in expenditures.

    Williams-Ridley wrote that, of $106 million of overall maintenance needs, $10.33 million are of “immediate concern,” $3.45 million of which is “needed now to make critical repairs to docks, pilings, electrical systems, and restrooms.”

    “If these investments are not made, facilities and infrastructure will either require more costly emergency funding or be closed, as in the case of the Berkeley Pier. Waterfront customers will continue to leave the Berkeley Marina, continuing the downward spiral of revenue loss and blight.”

    The report “builds on previous reports dating back to 1999, documenting a long history of the Marina Fund revenues struggling to cover basic operating costs, leaving little to no room for capital or maintenance wrote,” she wrote, adding Marina funding is at “its breaking point.”

    The fund will reportedly run dry in 2020, “with more than $950,00 needed to maintain existing waterfront operations through the next budget cycle.” Failure to do so will result in “deep cuts to programs and amenities.”

    The deficit has reportedly been caused by recent safety issues and deteriorating infrastructure. There have been unexpectedly sharp declines in revenue from berths, as boat owners are choosing to go elsewhere. Occupancy rates dipped as low as 77% earlier this year, compared to 88% three years ago.

    Business is also down at the nearby Doubletree Hotel, with revenue falling 4% in 2018 from the previous year.

    At the same time, delayed repairs are becoming costlier, as “pilings, docks, building systems, parking lots, and street paving begin to fail.”

    The Berkeley Pier was closed in 2015. Other waterfront infrastructure may need to be closed if the city doesn’t take fast action on investment, according to a new report by Berkeley’s City Manager. Photo: Dorothy Brown

    Williams-Ridley also wrote that the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan needs an additional $1.05 million. In October, the city received two proposals that confirmed the current budget allocation of $150,000 for the long-term plan falls well short of the necessary $1.2 million.

    Instead of funding a more “piecemeal” amount of “$150,000, the city chose to ask for bids on the full scope of the project, hoping to move forward when funding was available. The goal is to make the area self-sustaining.

    “These funds are needed immediately in order to pave the way for changes that will ultimately make the Marina Fund more viable and stable,” Williams-Ridley wrote.

    Read city’s report on the Berkeley waterfront. CLICK HERE

    The city incurred unexpected costs, and revenue loss, when longtime Marina restaurant, His Lordships, went out of business in July. The restaurant notified the city of its plans in May.

    The city is now on the hook for costs related to repairs, maintenance, utilities, security, and other associated fees, which would come from the Marina Fund. Currently, the fund is projected to be exhausted by 2021.

    The report offers three short-term solutions.

    The first option entails a one-time infusion of $4.5 million into “immediate needs,” which would keep the marina solvent until fiscal year 2021.
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  • #2
    Sometimes city managed properties are not managed that well.



    • #3
      That was an interesting read....


      • #4
        I wonder how much of that expenditures goes to retirement funds of some fat cat board members


        • #5
          I smell a berth rate increase on the horizon


          • #6
            Originally posted by Panama Red View Post
            I smell a berth rate increase on the horizon
            Not with 77% occupancy. They would be better off dropping the price or offering sign-on deals for new residents (first three months free, or something like that). I checked their pricing, and it's pretty much in line with the other marinas on the East side of the bay. If they have run-down facilities, that may scare off customers.


            • #7
              The might need to reassess the bureaucratic model of the marina and offer it up to a marina management outfit?


              • #8
                Management seems intent to let this place fall apart. I made the mistake of giving up a cheap apartment rental to move aboard here full time last year, and except for kicking out the RVs, everything else seems to have gotten worse. Now I'm shopping for a new spot to live aboard (impossible...) since going back to renting on land is not a $$ option.

                Most recent failure signal was the effort to improve parking access for non-boater water taxi riders. We (the public) need it and want it, but marina and city bureaucracy seem intent to subvert it -- and lose potential revenue it would bring. Gotta keep those precious, poorly maintained parking lots empty lest we scare off the illegally parked homeless car-dwellers and auto burglars!

                I also found out the hard way the other night that they're not paying for overnight security anymore; that, or the security firm is still getting away with being paid for services not rendered, as many residents complained about at the liveaboards meeting last year. No one watching the watchmen.


                • #9
                  OK - well that last post about poor security pretty much kills any idea I had of moving there. I want to be closer to the racing, and Alameda is a long motor to both the Circle and St Fancy. At least if I was at Berkeley I'd be close to one of those. How is the security at Brickyard or Richmond Marina?


                  • #10
                    It exists, but mostly in the form of gates.


                    • #11
                      There is always Emeryville.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wet Spreaders View Post
                        OK - well that last post about poor security pretty much kills any idea I had of moving there. I want to be closer to the racing, and Alameda is a long motor to both the Circle and St Fancy. At least if I was at Berkeley I'd be close to one of those. How is the security at Brickyard or Richmond Marina?
                        I was being a little harsh in retrospect; if you're not a liveaboard and just want to park your boat there - yup, being at the end of the slot has been nice! - it's still worth considering. I don't miss that estuary commute myself. Just don't leave anything in your car overnight, and expect to be grossed out by the bathrooms, the litter, and the dogshit everywhere. Just part and parcel of being in lawless berzerkely, it seems. They instituted a regime of friendly unarmed security walkers until 9pm or so, which has been a nice touch. But the overnight mall cops are useless, when they bother to make a presence. Crime has gone down since the RV dwellers left, but still plenty of car break-ins and creepy people lurking during wee-hour wee runs to the head. Once you're on the docks, though, everything has been copacetic in my experience. I've left good power tools in easy reach for a passerby while I'm gone for the day and they're still there when I get back. N&M docks have the best weather. A&B docks have the fanciest boats. The rest are whatever.


                        • #13
                          Berkeley is a great place to race from. You can get to pretty much any start line in the central bay in an hour, usually less. Getting home is usually a pretty quick main only run from almost anywhere. The weather on L dock is good too, been there since 2010. Any slip on the south side has the benefit of the stand of trees by BYC and is sheltered in a southerly by the land. I used to be on a boat on D dock and 10 years ago it was a mess. It can also be really windy over there since there is less shelter.

                          B&C were rebuilt about 10 years ago and A disappeared to put bigger boats in B&C. F&G were rebuilt maybe 20 years ago. Not sure about the rest but D&E are the worst. L-O are OK.

                          The parking has become an issue in the L-M lot mostly due to the ferry (water taxi) on weekdays and those damned dragon boats on the weekends. I appreciate the dragon boats providing access to people who might not otherwise have access to the water, really I do, but when you have 3-4 boats that carry 20 people each that puts a real strain on the parking lot. Oh yeah, those 60+ people don't pay any slip fees as far as I know. There also seem to be way more cars than the activity would suggest. Even on a weekend (no ferry) and after the dragon boats go home (I think they favor the morning before the wind picks up) the lot is still full. There can't be that many live aboards and I see few boats out or people on boats. Marina management is trying to find a solution. My crew of 8+ carpools whenever we can and I would be OK with getting a couple of slip holder passes and the others pay a bit if it means we can actually find a spot.

                          Like everywhere else the infrastructure is in need of some deferred maintenance. When I have requested a fix from the office (cleat coming loose) it was done before I got back to the boat in a week or two.

                          I have not had a problem in the parking lot but my car is only there overnight 6-8 times a year. I see security cars but never people. There are occasionally folks living in their cars but they don't seem to stay long. On the docks it is great to have live aboards providing a measure of neighborhood watch keeping an eye on things.


                          • #14
                            I feel for you guys in the L-M lot. Weekends it seems to be a free-for-all, and even weekdays it can be tough. I'm at the F-G lot, which is rarely full; could easily get many water taxi customers parking there.
                            The real shame is that the marina isn't so bad - still lacking compared to the other marinas I've berthed at - but that it could be so, so great! Location, location, location. Without a ton of funds and a cohesive, shared vision among the various tenants (marina, hotel, restaurants, ferries, parks & rec, etc), though, I can see how it's ripe for problems.


                            • #15
                              The Berkeley Marina isn't alone. Fortman Marina in Alameda (and several other Estuary marinas), Richardson Bay Marina in Sausalito (and several others), Loch Lomand in San Rafael (and several others). Empty berths, run down facilities, parking disappearing. Smaller berths converted into 40+ footers. Disappearing dry storage and hoists. Dredging issues. Boat yards harder to find. And, I don't even know much about the South Bay except San Leandro is no more and at lest one or two San Mateo marinas are in trouble The list goes on. I believe boating, and in particular sailboating, is in trouble (perhaps crisis) on SF Bay. Older boaters are dying off and not being replaced by younger sailors; older smaller boats not being replaced by newer smaller boats. Municipal marinas competing for dollars with other budget categories and private marinas charging more and more. I really don't think there's an answer that will satisfy most of us.