About 25 people attended Tuesday’s meeting about the proposed changes to parking polices on the Santa Barbara waterfront, and it began with harbormaster Scott Riedman explaining the problems and possible solutions for a subcommittee of three harbor commissioners. Riedman’s proposal to fix the reportedly frequent sell-outs of the main harbor lot and related abuse issues is two-fold: more rigorous enforcement of the existing 72-hour limit for red permits and a changing the blue permits from the current year-long privileges to 72 hours as well.
Exemptions would be immediately granted for slipholders for up to two weeks of “ocean travel,” although liveaboards could also get those two weeks for any sort of travel; however, silpholders could only request that exemptions once every six months. So long as those criteria were met, the process would be merely to notify the harbor patrol of the trip. However, for exemptions of three-weeks in length — which is currently the longest exemption on the table — slipholders would have to request and obtain approval based on “extenuating circumstances,” such as death in the family, health concerns, or the like.
During the public comment period, many of the objections of the same objections discussed above were raised:
- that the Waterfront Administration should enforce the rules already in existence before leveling a new policy;
- that the real motivation seems to be cleaning up the “clunkers” and becoming a “beauty police” rather than the supposed problem of sell-outs;
- that the solutions proposed wouldn’t actually address the problem of overcrowding anyway, because it would force the slipholders to do the 72-hour shuffle — even those with the white “step vans” could do so — but not actually leave the lot;
- that the 72-hour limit would harm the businesses of boat-related workers who have to leave at moment’s notice for months at a time;
- and that people with health concerns might have their car towed when they have to leave for extended periods of time following emergencies.
“You’re creating a nightmare for the people who live here,” said Jack Joyner who lives on his boat. “This is our driveway.”
In response, Riedman and the waterfront’s operations manager Mick Kronman reminded that the lots are public parking, not private driveways for slipholders, an attitude expressed by many in attendance. Riedman also said that his intention is to enforce the “spirit” rather than the “letter” of the law, which was appreciated by the audience, but some questioned what might happen if the current administration changed and the enforcement became by the letter.
The three commissioners seemed concerned about the impact of the changes to harbor life, and asked Riedman to return with detailed information on how the proposed policies would actually work to stop the sell-outs. With the hope that the new policies take effect on January 1, 2014, the issue could reach the Harbor Commission for a vote as soon as next month.