Sunset Marina Lease Renewal Votes Go in 2 Directions
The Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks Commission gave mixed signals Wednesday night about a proposed renewal of the controversial lease of the Sunset Marina Park, a 276-slip boat haven at Huntington Harbour.
On the one hand, the commission voted 4 to 2 not to endorse a county staff recommendation to renew the lease for another 30 years. But the commission also voted unanimously to direct the staff to seek additional concessions from the operator of the marina, Goldrich & Kest Inc., and to bring the proposed lease package back to the commission.
“I don’t feel comfortable with it all,” said Commission Chairman Ed Conway. " . . . There’s just a lot of cloudy issues here.”
In question is a proposal to extend, without competitive bidding, an existing lease that still has eight years to run.
The proposed lease extension became controversial after The Times, in a June 23 story, noted that County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder’s son had worked as a lobbyist for the marina operator, Goldrich & Kest. Wieder’s district includes Sunset Marina.
The proposed renewal of the Sunset Marina lease originally was to have come before the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 12. But after Supervisors Don R. Roth, Roger R. Stanton and Thomas F. Riley expressed reservations, the matter was referred to the Harbors, Beaches and Parks Commission for review.
Wieder’s son, Lee Wieder, lobbied county officials regarding the proposed lease renewal from 1989 to mid-1990. Lee Wieder has said he left Goldrich & Kest’s employment in late June, 1990, and now is president of a San Francisco Bay Area firm called Access Land Development.
Partly because of Supervisor Wieder’s actions, county government was close to renewing the Sunset Marina lease. Wieder helped precipitate a reshuffling of the county’s Sunset Marina lease negotiating team in late 1990, resulting in the removal from the talks the county’s director of harbors, beaches and parks.
Wieder also assigned her chief of staff to attend a negotiating session with Goldrich & Kest. Last February, Wieder voted with the other supervisors to exclude Sunset Marina from a consultant’s study that was to recommend new income-enhancement and management options--including the possible replacement of Goldrich & Kest as the marina operator.
Wieder has said that her actions on the proposed lease extension have been intended only to secure the best terms possible for the county while ensuring fair treatment for Goldrich & Kest. She has said that neither the firm’s employment of her son nor its $1,800 in contributions to her campaigns influenced her decisions on the proposed marina lease.
Of the six commissioners on hand Wednesday night, five were appointed by county supervisors. The two who voted to endorse renewing the 30-year lease were Shirley Dettloff, an appointee of Wieder, and Ronald B. Hoesterey, an appointee of Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez.