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Many 'Gross Errors' : Skippers Ridicule Boat Slip Survey

February 08, 1987|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

The Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Assn. claims that more than half of the boat slips in Southern California were improperly eliminated from a survey that the county is using to justify dramatic boat slip fee increases at Marina del Rey.

"The 1987 county slip survey had a great number of gross omissions and errors," spokesmen Jerry Rowley and Gerald Winston said in a statement to be submitted to the county Small Craft Harbor Commission at its meeting Wednesday.

In previous years, the county has studied 36 marinas with 13,205 slips to determine how fees at Marina del Rey compare with those at other marinas within a 60-mile radius.

This year, the county reached "false conclusions" because it eliminated 11 lower-priced marinas with more than 7,000 slips from the study, Rowley and Winston said. In addition, the county has never counted a number of other marinas, they said.

Ted Reed, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, said the 11 marinas were eliminated because they are subject to rent controls, and their rates thus were not applicable to Marina del Rey where controls expired on Dec. 31.

The Board of Supervisors in recent years has set a goal of increasing income on county assets, and in 1984 it approved a plan that would phase out controls on boat slip fees by the end of 1986, Reed said. The master lease between the county and anchorage operators gives the county 20% of their rental income.

At the January harbor commission meeting, Reed said that increases now being imposed by anchorage operators are in keeping with the supervisors' directive to increase county revenues.

The new fees are permissible because they fall within the $6- to $13.98-a-foot rates reported at the 25 anchorages studied, Reed said.

The mean rate at Marina del Rey is $8.45 a foot compared to $7.98 a foot among the 25 anchorages studied, he said.

"I can only conclude that the 1984 program to phase in Marina del Rey boat slip rates to market level has been successful, and that Marina del Rey rates reflect current market rates," Reed said in his report to the commission.

Boat slip fee increases of as much as 100% have been instituted at Marina del Rey in the past few months. Real Property Management increased the rent on its main channel premium slips to $1,600 from $800, for example. Smaller slips received lesser increases.

Rate Increases Imposed

Eleven marinas have announced rate increases that are taking effect now that county controls have expired, boat owners said.

"An epidemic of price increases will probably begin soon," they warned in their statement prepared for Wednesday's meeting.

At the meeting, Pioneer Skippers will present its own survey of 49 Southern California anchorages with 14,732 slips, according to Rowley, a vice president of the organization. Pioneer Skippers' study shows rates ranging from $4.25 to $13.98 a foot, with a mean of $7.14, according to Gerald Winston, a consultant and former senior manager for Price Waterhouse who prepared the boaters' statistical data. The Southern California average is considerably less than the $8.45-a-foot price at Marina del Rey, he said.

The boaters' study showed that 88.4% of the 14,732 slips in Southern California cost less than the $8.45-a-foot mean rate at Marina del Rey, he said.

New Method Weighed

At Wednesday's meeting, the Small Craft Harbor Commission will receive a county analysis of a new method that would calculate boat slip fees by the area a boat occupies rather than the traditional method based on length alone.

Boaters said the current method creates disproportionate costs for smaller boats. Large boats occupy more width as well as length, and should have to pay more than the length-only method would provide, they said.

Pioneer Skippers support the square-footage concept. They suggested that charging 45 cents a square foot would create equitable fees for boaters, and yet provide the county and anchorage operators with a fair income.

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