Harbor District

Oct 12, 2018, California Coastal Commission hearing in San Diego

I’m Sabrina Brennan, I’m currently serving a second term on the San Mateo County Harbor Commission and I’m a co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing. I’m here today as a representative of CEWS.

When it was my turn to speak at the Nov 2015 Coastal Commission hearing, I explained that the San Mateo County Harbor District had a five-year exclusive permit with Cartel Management, the Titans event promoter. The permit specified that only one surf contest could be held at Mavericks from Nov 1 to March 31.

Three years ago, I asked you to add a condition requiring a women’s heat to a CDP for the event. It was the first time the Coastal Commission had ever considered permitting the Mavericks competition and some of you were surprised to learn that the event’s founder, Jeff Clark, had a history of gender-based discrimination.

At your Nov 2015 hearing a motion was made to approve the CDP application, and that was the moment Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas said, “I'm a little concerned about the fact that there is no clear plan for highlighting, involving, or encouraging the growth of women in this event or in this sport. I'll float it out there. I'd like to see if I can make an amending motion to add a specific condition that we ask the applicant to provide a plan for encouraging equal opportunity for women surfers in future events.”

A clear mandate was issued in a 7-4 vote to approve Vargas’ amended motion. And in 2016 and 2017, your Commission voted unanimously to include women in the Mavericks competition.

There have been many hurdles including Griffin Guess’ discriminatory behavior and retaliation against women and his company, Cartel Management, filing bankruptcy in federal court.

In Aug 2017, the World Surf League bought the San Mateo County Harbor District multi-season permit out of bankruptcy for $525,000. We were hopeful that, women would finally have an opportunity to compete. However, by the time the WSL got their permits in order the seasons best surf conditions had already passed.  

In 2018, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing requested a meeting with the WSL on numerous occasions to address concerns about gender-based discrimination and equal pay. The WSL refused to schedule a meeting with us until after we sent Coastal Commission staff a letter on July 9, 2018, that said, “Unfair business practices prevent women professional surfers from utilizing public resources and coastal access. Please take action to prohibit gender-based discrimination.”

On July 23, 2018, CEWS met with the WSL in Redwood City. We presented a proposal for equal prize money and a multi-heat Women’s Division in the 2018/2019 Mavericks Challenge. 

On July, 30, 2018, the WSL agreed to a three heat Women’s Division that would include up to 10 athletes. 

 On Sept 5, 2018, the WSL agreed to full prize money equality across all global WSL controlled events.

  • Starting in 2018, equal prize money will be awarded in the Big Wave Tour.

  • The season schedule for the 2018-2019 Big Wave Tour Women’s Division will include the Mavericks Challenge and the Pe'ahi Challenge.

  • In 2019, the Championship Tour, the Longboard Tour, and the World Junior Championships will be awarded equal prize money.

 This is a precedent setting victory!

Recently, economics professor David Berri was quoted in a Cal Matters article by Laurel Rosenhall. Berri said, “the Mavericks case could set a precedent for local governments to demand equal pay in any sporting event held on public property.”

We hope that our success will expand future opportunities for inclusion and pay equity for all sport leagues and we look forward to future legislation.  

The persistence of women and girls paid off

Women surfers and their supporters stood together, united in their demand for equality and pay equity. We did not back down and we refused anything less than equal pay when offered compromises such as equal pay at some future date in the next few years.

In July 2018, the WSL threatened to cancel the Mavericks surf competition and we stood our ground with helpful collaboration and assistance from two state agencies.  

We thank the California Coastal Commission members and staff who have worked tirelessly to bring equality to the use of state resources for the Mavericks Challenge. 

We thank the California State Lands Commission members and staff for their work in bringing equality to the publicly owned sovereign lands of California. 

County Harbor Commissioners Brennan & Larenas Support District Elections

Press Release

SAN MATEO COUNTY— Harbor Commissioners Larenas and Brennan are calling for district elections to save millions in property tax funds currently being wasted on a countywide at-large election system. The Harbor District paid the County $752,490 for the Nov 2017 countywide at-large election. Switching to district elections would improve accountability; increase citizen participation including marginalized communities and lower taxpayer costs.

It is time to change the Harbor District’s election system to the much more equitable District Elections.

—Edmundo Larenas, SMC Harbor Commissioner

The current countywide at-large system for electing Harbor Commissioners prevents voters from holding incumbents accountable. In Feb 2018, Commissioner Tom Mattusch admitted to sexual misconduct. A countywide recall initiative would require a staggering number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. The at-large system blocks the path for removing a commissioner. District elections empower voters to take action when the public trust is violated.

—Sabrina Brennan, SMC Harbor Commissioner

At-large elections have been abandoned by many local agencies because they favor candidates with deep pockets and politically connected incumbents, making it prohibitive for lower-income people and people of color to run successful campaigns. In 2009, the benefits of district elections were supported by the SMC Civil Grand Jury, which issued a formal recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors in favor of district elections. In Nov 2012, the voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure to dismantle the at-large elections system for county supervisors. In Oct 2017, the Menlo Park City Council adopted a resolution declaring the intent to transition to district-based elections.

In 2010, Sabrina Brennan first proposed district elections as a way to reduce election costs.

Half Moon Bay Review – July 12, 2010

Resident suggests new format for harbor elections

According to Brennan, lowering the cost would not only relieve the burden on taxpayers but also encourage more qualified candidates to run for board positions.

"I'm concerned about the fact that for people who want to run, like myself … it costs a lot of money," she said, citing it would cost $7,000 for a candidate to place an optional statement onto the voter pamphlet.

It’s time to eliminate at-large elections and comply with the California Voting Rights Act.

Local agencies that have switched to district as a result of CVRA challenges:

Due to the significant costs of defending against CVRA lawsuits, the vast majority of local agencies approved voluntarily transitions to district elections.

Examples of settlements:

  • Anaheim - $1.1 million
  • Hanford Joint Union Schools - $118,000
  • Madera Unified - about $170,000
  • Merced City - $42,000
  • Modesto - $3 million plaintiff's attorney fees and $1.7 million for its own lawyers
  • Palmdale - $4.7 million
  • Placentia - $20,000
  • Santa Barbara - $600,000
  • Tulare Hospital - $500,000
  • West Covina - $220,000 
  • Whittier - $1 million

Bringing SMC Harbor District government closer to home would increase countywide awareness about the following:

  • Public Harbors and Marinas
  • California Coastal Trail and Bay Trail Access
  • Wildlife and Marine Environment Education
  • Water Quality and Environmental Protection
  • Public Transportation to and from District facilities
  • Human Powered Vessel Rental and Launch Opportunities
  • Commercial Fishing Industry and Sports Fishing
  • Ocean and Bay Safety
  • Sea Rise Preparedness
  • Tsunami Inundation Evacuation Routes

Oyster Point Marina JPA Considerations

By Ed Carter

This is in response to recent meetings, Staff Reports, 5 Year Capital Improvement Project Summary (CIP) and proposals involving a possible Oyster Point Marina (OPM) JPA Rewrite/Update by South San Francisco (SSF) and the San Mateo County Harbor District (HD).

I strongly suggest that the Harbor District limit any JPA update to the current term of the JPA and make no new capital investments at OPM.

SSF has publicly threatened to push for dissolution of the HD if it does not “go along” with funding massive new capital investment at OPM. This undermines any future partnership and strongly suggests that SSF was involved in the Grand Jury inquiries and other behind the scenes maneuvering to dissolve the HD. This antagonism should caution the HD commissioners against extending the JPA.

The LAFCO Municipal Services Review (MSR) and Grand Jury Report both cite a long history of HD operating deficits as justification for its dissolution. The OPM JPA is a significant contributor to these deficits. Continued revenue deficiencies may lead to dissolution of the HD if the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors decides to do so. There has been no economic study completed of the projected return on investment of the HD’s proposed OPM CIP items. I would argue that an accurate projection is impossible until after the OPD project is completed and fully leased for a year or more. Failure of any additional capital investment in enterprise projects, to produce adequate revenues, would further jeopardize the future of the HD.

JPA land that previously provided revenue to the HD has been transferred to a private developer. This revenue will not be replaced. Reduction in the land area in the JPA and development of adjacent, previously JPA controlled property, by others (Oyster Point Development, OPD) makes prediction of future productive use of the remaining “substandard” JPA property very difficult. The Marina has long had excess capacity, over 20% of the berths are not currently rented. Future parking for the existing western berths will be reduced by fifty percent. Therefore, access to these berths will be more difficult.  Existing boat maintenance facilities will be gone. No one can predict how these changes will affect  the demand for marina facilities.

SSF appears to believe the HD will supply all of the capital for future development by the OPM JPA. The HD does not own the land or have a long‐term lease (nor should it want either) to justify any more capital investment at OPM.

The JPA has not developed the landside facilities of the marina significantly since its inception. There is no reason to believe this will change in the future. The OPM CIP includes $250,000 in Planning, specifications and engineering investment in landside development in 2017‐18 without a hint as to the nature of successful enterprise activity that might be developed there.

JPA property has been reduced to only the most exposed and unstable area of the old landfill. Barriers to future landside development include the landfill legacy problems of hazardous waste, subsidence and geotechnical issues complicated by projected sea rise. Extension of the JPA may also result in HD being held responsible for problems associated with hazardous waste deposits at the site that existed before the JPA was formed. These issues will result in limitations on what can be built including increased costs of construction. Further, the proposed 40,000 square feet available for new development in the remaining JPA Property is: small, irregular in shape, landlocked and otherwise limited in its use by adjacent trails and planned hotel development on adjacent property.

The HD has challenging issues at Pillar Point Harbor (PPH), including: the demand for more and larger berths, implementation of the PPH 5 year CIP, water quality improvement, landside development supporting existing enterprise activity tenants, expansion of enterprise activity, ADA compliance, dredging and beach enhancement. The HD should utilize all of its available and future capital resources at PPH in order to fulfill its mission statement: “To assure that the public is provided with clean, safe, wellmanaged financially sound and environmentally pleasant marinas”. If it continues in the OPM JPA with a business as usual approach the operating losses will continue and the HD will not be able to fulfill this mission at either PPH or OPM.

Conclusion

Given the above it is difficult to understand the apparent willingness of the HD to expend its resources on this failed JPA partnership. The HD should set future priorities based upon the LAFCO MSR and Grand Jury comments. This will help direct staff and make future planning fact based and goal oriented

HD has experienced consistent operating losses under the JPA. Future marina development and landside enterprise activity at OPM should be left to the landowner, SSF. All future HD tax revenue should be reserved for use at PPH.

While it may be desirable for the HD to have a continued presence at Oyster Point it is under no obligation to invest in additional capital projects at OPM. It makes no sense to build SSF and their developer partner OPD a shiny new marina with San Mateo County Taxpayer money.

The currently proposed OPM CIP should be suspended. The HD should limit its future involvement with the JPA and OPM to operation and maintenance of the marina under a cost plus contract, with SSF funding all CIP and operating losses. The HD should look for partners and other funding sources to support its public access and marine safety activities at OPM. Without implementing these strategies it may be impossible for the HD to achieve revenue neutral operations at OPM.

The future is bright for LGBT elected leaders in San Mateo County

San Francisco Dyke March 2016

Bay Area Reporter - Matthew S. Bajko

While no LGBT candidate ran to succeed him, Rich Gordon believes the power of the LGBT community on the Peninsula will continue to be strong. Both gay Mountain View City Councilman Chris Clark and lesbian San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan won re-election earlier this month, ensuring there is a farm team of LGBT elected leaders to run for higher office in future years.

Gordon noted, "There never were that many out electeds in San Mateo County; I was often the only one at the party." Yet in recent years he said there has been "a greater emergence of an LGBT community" in the area, pointing to the establishment of a countywide LGBT commission to ensure there is local funding for LGBT programs.

"I think the future is very bright in San Mateo County," he said.