City Manager Ken Frank advised the council this week that awarding a commercial franchise for kayaks at Goff Island would likely be an exercise in futility.
Frank notified the council in a memo that unless otherwise instructed he would not pursue the application for the franchise, based on a conversation with the California Coastal Commission enforcement office in Long Beach. The council did not respond to the Aug. 1 memo, which hit the Internet on Saturday.
“The memo to the council wasn’t intended to be made public, but one member of the council sent a copy to someone,” Frank said.
Frank issued the memo after talking to commission enforcement officer Andrew Willis, whom the city manager described as a thoughtful, reasonable member of the commission staff on other issues.
“He was already aware that the council had directed me to arrange a franchise at Treasure Island and was preparing to call me,” Frank said.
Willis told Frank that a franchise would be allowed on the sandy beach area at the bottom of the main ramp at Treasure Island.
However, franchise applicant Billy Fried had told Frank that the approved location was not the best place to launch a kayak and is so heavily used by little children that it would be irresponsible to operate a kayak rental business at that location, according to the memo.
Fried told Frank that Goff Island and Fisherman’s Cove were really the only two locations where kayaks could safely be launched by inexperienced customers.
Fried has been using Fisherman’s Cove for some time and Frank indicated in his memo that the business has not caused a problem and he sees no reason to raise the issue.
Willis told Frank that a coastal development permit would be required to operate the franchise at Goff Island since the area is intended to be a conservation zone. Launching kayaks would disturb the tide pools by stepping in them, and paddles would stir up sand as the kayaks were dragged along to the water.
The Implementing Actions Program of the Treasure Island Specific Plan states that commercial uses and structures are prohibited.
“Unfortunately, it cannot get too much clearer,” Frank opined. .
That leaves the city with two options: disagree that the permit is needed, which could lead to litigation, or agree to issue the permit.
“Assuming the permit process was completed and approved by the council, Andrew said it would be appealable to the commission,” Frank said.
Frank said he had no doubt that would be the outcome.
The outlook for a franchise to be approved by the commission is dim, in Frank’s opinion, given the language in the city’s Local Coastal Plan and just getting to that point would require a significant amount of staff time.
“I intend to drop this unless the council directs me to fight for it come hell or high water at the council meeting,” Frank said on Monday.
No such direction was given. Barring instructions to the contrary, Frank intended to officially notify Fried of the decision. Fried was unavailable for comment by deadline.
BARBARA DIAMOND can be reached at (949) 494-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.