SAVING OUR BOATYARDS In a February 'Lectronic Latitude, we reported on a lawsuit filed against KKMI in Richmond by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). In the March issue, we ran a series of letters written by clients of KKMI addressed to William Jennings, the executive director of CSPA, regarding the lawsuit, as well as Jennings' response to those letters. These events, along with the recent closing of the Svendsen's yard in Alameda, got us thinking about boatyards and their place in the boating ecosystem. This report, which is part of our continuing coverage on the evolution of the Bay Area's waterfront, is our effort to make industry-specific permits for boatyards a sexy and exciting topic.
ecreational boatyards, or facilities that serve primarily vessels less than 65 feet in length, are an essential piece of the social and industrial ecosystem that supports recreational boating. Boatyards are also the most vulnerable link in that ecosystem. By necessity, they occupy waterfront land, an increasingly scarce and desirable resource in the housingdeficient Bay Area. But as the lawsuit filed by CSPA demonstrates, housing is just one of the challenges facing Bay Area boatyards, which also operate in a very complicated regulatory environment, with multiple overlapping government jurisdictions and a large body of law and regulation that bear upon almost every aspect of boatyard's operations. For example, boatyards are required to meet environmental benchmarks under the Federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. These are complicated pieces of legislation, and in addition to these requirements, boatyards must also navigate the regulations promulgated by the US EPA and the California EPA that derive from this legislation. If work is necessary to upgrade or repair
boatyard facilities, permits are required from a whole host of agencies, including the Army Corp of Engineers, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the California Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, and local jurisdictions that have authority over zoning and development on lands where the yard is located. And all of this is separate from the health and safety requirements that yards must meet to protect employees and patrons. As Paul Kaplan, CEO of KKMI, says, "Boatyards are almost as heavily regulated as the nuclear power industry. Maybe more so!" All of this regulation comes at a cost, and it is those of us who have boats and use boatyard services in the Bay Area that ultimately pay. However, these regulations also produce real benefits. Boatyard operations are much cleaner now than they were even 10 years ago, and the waters of the Bay are much cleaner as a result of the efforts to clean up the environment, not just at boatyards, but across industries throughout the region and the state. So we, as sailors and boat-
LATITUDE / TIM
The Santa Fe Channel outside KKMI has become a contentious body of water in a recent lawsuit.
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ers, benefit from the regulations, but as customers we also have an interest in keeping costs down and boatyards in business. The Clean Zone Ironically, efforts to clean up boatyards may also contribute to their vulnerability. There was a time, not too long ago, that the idea of putting housing on an old boatyard site or adjacent to an existing facility would have been unthinkable. The old sites were contaminated, and the ongoing commercial and industrial activity in an existing boatyard would have been toxic to nearby residents. That is much less true now as sites have been decontaminated and boatyard operations have gotten significantly cleaner. Despite the push to develop waterfront parcels for housing and mixed-use commercial and retail, several of the recreational boatyards in the Bay Area are on lands that are not immediately in danger of being developed, although there are yards that are still vulnerable in this way. According to Kaplan, the KKMI yard in Sausalito is protected by local zoning that restricts development to maritime uses, and the KKMI and Svendsen's Bay Marine yards in Richmond are in areas zoned for industrial use. Recreational yards that are located
The April 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.