After three hours of debate, the Board of Port Commissioners on Tuesday postponed for 90 days a decision that would have allowed a San Diego businessman to sublet his leased port property to an America’s Cup contender.
Raymond Allen Carpenter, owner of a marine construction and repairing business, had asked to sublet the property he leases from the Port District to America 3 Foundation, a nonprofit corporation headed by William Koch that is sponsoring a leading U.S. contender in the 1992 America’s Cup.
Carpenter has already sublet part of his property to Team Dennis Connor Inc., another leading contender in the race.
After the 1992 America’s Cup races, the plan calls for the subleased property to be converted to a passenger-boat landing, restaurant and retail shops complex, called Fifth Avenue Landing. The complex would be leased on a long-term basis to Carpenter and Arthur Engel, a principal of Star & Crescent Boat Co., a harbor excursion operator.
The request includes permission to lease 169,000 square feet of land and about 50,000 square feet of water at the National City Marine Terminal to be used as a temporary replacement site for Carpenter’s marine construction and repair yard while America 3 is subleasing his permanent space.
Also under consideration was Carpenter’s request for a 30-year lease on 158,000 square feet of land and 151,000 square feet of water at and around the marine terminal as a permanent site for his business.
National City Mayor George Waters contended that the relocation of a marine construction firm to National City would hamper the city’s efforts to beautify its port. He advised the commission not to look upon his town as a “downtrodden city” or to place in National City projects the other port cities don’t want.
“We are very much part of the Port District but just want to be treated fairly,” Waters said.
A request by Carpenter’s attorney to have the 18-month temporary lease approved to allow National City to see what type of tenant Carpenter would make was rejected by the commission.
Other speakers said Carpenter’s proposal would give him, in the long run, an unfairly large portion of Port District space. Another thought too much was being done to accommodate America 3
Having heard from more than 15 speakers on both sides of the issue, the commission voted 6 to 1 to study the matter for 90 days before deciding.
David Dick, an attorney representing America 3, was disappointed by the postponement.
Representatives for America 3 have seen all available properties within the port and each one has problems, from lack of valid permits to lack of land space, Dick said.
“We will ultimately find a place to be, and it’s not going to be the place we want to be,” he said, adding that the postponement has probably ended chances of America 3 subletting Carpenter’s site. Don Nay, the commission’s executive director, disagreed with Dick’s assessment.
“To say that’s the only place in town that can handle America 3 is just blatantly ridiculous,” he said. “What requirements does America 3 have that New Zealand doesn’t have?”