On Monday, November 5th, the Santa Cruz Harbor unexpectedly posted signs at the free, public hand-launch platforms near dock FF and dock A on the west side of the harbor declaring a $10 launch fee per vehicle would be instituted for all human-powered watercraft (HPW) beginning November 17th. Human powered watercraft includes kayaks, SUPs, outriggers, and dinghys, among other crafts.
These historically free public, hand-launch docks are utilized by thousands of members of the public each year, launching kayaks, small sailboats, one-man outriggers, stand-up paddleboards and more. This $10 fee would end free, safe public access to the harbor and to the Monterey Bay via the harbor.
On Tuesday, February 19th, the Harbor announced three proposed changes that they intend to take to the Port Commission on for official adoption on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26th. All these changes were negative for human-powered watercraft, and one is simply unsafe! The proposals are:
1) INCREASE OF THE $10 FEE. The harbor staff is proposing to increase fee from $10 per car including parking, to $10 plus and additional $5 per HPW for 3 or more HWPs. Previously, this new fee was $10 per vehicle with kayaks, sups or dinghies on or in the vehicle. Now, they propose to charge more depending on the number of boards/kayaks: $10 for two, $15 for three, or $20 for four. So rather than proposing a decrease in the fee, which most were expecting, they increased the fee!
2) CREATION OF A NEW, UNSAFE LAUNCH AREA. In order to keep SUP launching strictly within view/sight of the Harbor Office itself, the harbor staff is proposing a new SUP launch area on the “Fuel Dock”. The fuel dock (or “gas dock”) is by far the closest dock to the mouth of the harbor, where there is more boat traffic, more wind, swell, and is generally unsafe for SUPs. Therefore, there will be hundreds of “first time” SUP paddlers launching from the Gas Dock every month. The photo below shows the new SUP launch area the harbor is proposing. THIS PROPOSED LAUNCH AREA IS THE MOST UNSAFE AREA FOR SUPs IN THE HARBOR. Any new, dedicated SUP launch area should be in the upper harbor, on the other side of the Murray Street bridge – not the lower harbor / harbor mouth!