Expanding parking, preserving open space, and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to support a bustling fishing industry over the long haul were among the top goals provided by a handful of Coastsiders who attended a special strategic planning meeting held by the San Mateo County Harbor District last week. 

The meeting, which took place on Nov. 13 at the district’s headquarters in El Granada, was held a week after a similar gathering took place in South San Francisco. 

After several starts and delays, the district’s staff says it is working — in earnest — on updating this document that highlights the district’s long-term goals and the incremental steps involved in reaching those goals at Pillar Point Harbor in Princeton and the Oyster Point Marina in South San Francisco. 

The district owns Pillar Point and is responsible for managing Oyster Point. The last strategic plan came together in 1991.

Bob and Sherry Ingles, owners of the Queen of Hearts charter boat and Half Moon Bay Sportfishing and Tackle in Princeton, commented on the recent expansion of the sidewalk in front of their bait shop and how it has affected parking. 

“When they expanded the sidewalk, we lost parking in front of the stores,” Bob Ingles said. Now the nearest parking is often occupied by people who are leaving their cars in the lots overnight, and the Ingleses say their customers are traversing long distances with their fishing gear in the still-dark hours of 4 or 5 a.m. 

“We don’t want someone tripping,” said Sherry Ingles. 

Ingles stated that parking in the harbor, in general, has become a real issue, with recreational vehicles taking up many of the spaces in the harbor’s upper lot that borders Highway 1. 

Dan Haggerty, a Midcoast Community Council member who stated that he’s lived on the Coastside for 30 years, echoed the Ingleses’ concerns about parking. 

“It’s getting worse fast,” he said. 

Haggerty suggested that the district could purchase property at the northwest corner of Highway 1 and Capistrano Road and use the space for a variety of purposes. The area could house a new, low-profile, district office, Haggerty said, as well as provide for overflow parking. 

The council member stated that the space would also be an ideal location for hosting pumpkin patches, farmers markets and community fundraisers.

“It could be a win for everybody,” Haggerty said. 

The Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association submitted a letter to the San Mateo County Harbor Commissioners stating its members’ interest in fixing up Johnson Pier.

In the letter, which was read aloud at the meeting by Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan, the association outlined concerns about a lack of transparency and stakeholder input concerning infrastructure changes in the past. It highlighted its concern for the stability of the wood pilings on the dock near the freezers and the safety of the fishermen, workers and the visiting public on the pier. 

“We believe there is a need for both short-term and long-term improvements to Johnson Pier that will provide safe and efficient access to infrastructure for the commercial fishing fleet, fair and equal opportunities for all fish buying businesses, and assured safety for all harbor visitors and users,” the letter stated. “We hope that the strategic planning process underway will be helpful, but we also ask that the commission be mindful not to delay much-needed repairs and improvements any more than is absolutely necessary.” 

Multiple people in the audience suggested that the district shouldn’t be focused on turning a profit. People in the audience argued that because a decent percentage of the district’s profits come from taxpayers, the district should be focused on serving their interests. 

Harbor District General Manager Steve McGrath told the public that he was taking notes and interested in addressing all of the concerns. 

With the help of a district’s hired contractor, the input will be compiled and a draft set of goals and priorities will be assembled for the public’s perusal, likely in early 2019. 

Visit www.smharbor.com/strategic-plan-survey to provide additional input.

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