Tuesday, June 28, 2016

[San Mateo County] Grand jury calls for county to study harbor district dissolution

A San Mateo County civil grand jury report released on Monday puts pressure on the county’s Board of Supervisors to determine whether to dissolve the San Mateo County Harbor District. The report highlights the 2015 Local Area Formation Commission recommendation that the district be dissolved and its governing responsibilities absorbed by the county.
The report’s authors note that the Board of Supervisors stated that it would launch its own analysis of the Harbor District, but doesn’t appear to have done so.
“It has now been almost 12 months since LAFCo’s review of the district,” the report says. “It is not clear that the county has undertaken the analysis it had promised to perform.”
The report also makes note of a “lengthy and antagonistic relationship between the Harbor District and the citizens of San Mateo County” the grand jury says go back half a century. In 1963, 57 percent of county voters said they wanted to see the district dissolved, the report states. In 1966, it was dissolved before it was reinstated after a court overturned that decision. The grand jury then advocated for dissolution in 1990 and again the following year.
Harbor District Commissioners disagree with the recommendations in the report, saying the grand jury ignored recent improvements.
“It appears a lot of the decision was made prior to the report,” said Commission President Tom Mattusch. “They didn’t take into account the progress that’s been made.”
Mattusch highlighted the recent paying off of its $5 million debt to the state Division of Boating and Waterways.
Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan was similarly disappointed that recent progress wasn’t acknowledged.
“The lack of attention to the hard work that our staff has done and our new general manager is disappointing,” Brennan said. She cited the district’s improved relationship with the fishing community, among other things.
“It’s a big project to take on and after several decades of mismanagement it’s not going to happen overnight,” she said.
The report does acknowledge some recent improvements but asks that a Board of Supervisors study “look beyond any near-term performance improvements given the long history of harbor dysfunction.”
The report recommends that a county-driven study should be initiated by Sept. 30 and be completed within six months.
Supervisor Don Horsley, whose district includes Pillar Point Harbor, could not be reached for comment Monday.
June 27, 2016
Half Moon Bay Review
By Carina Woudenberg

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