10 Marina Dock Age April 2019
The marina offers many unique amenities and successful profit centers - private storage lockers; YachtSuites, a concierge airBnB program that allows boaters to rent their boats when they are not in use; and a gigabit Wi-Fi system, which it offers amazing performance without bandwidth limitations for a small monthly fee. The system includes dedicated micro-wave links to internet providers and fiberoptic distribution with high-powered access points throughout the harbor. A Ubiquiti Nanostation at each boat links to the system. The marina also offers a lower performance free Wi-Fi service, but boaters love the enhanced service, especially in Silicon Valley. For more on the marina's unique infrastructure and profit centers, see the chart on page 8.
Westpoint Harbor is regulated by a dozen government agencies. While most actively support the marina, one regional agency, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) was a challenge from the conception of the project in 1988. Because the project would be the first legally developed salt pond in the bay, BCDC was determined the precedent should be prevented regardless of the merits. It blocked the permit for a decade and continued aggressive actions against the marina for another decade. Formed in 1965, BCDC was one of the country's first coastal agencies, instituted in part to stop filling the bay. For years municipalities dumped trash in the bay, and thousands of acres were disappearing. Legislation was passed that made it illegal to fill the bay without a permit, and the commission was established as a temporary agency to implement the new law. It was successful in stopping the fill, and water quality steadily improved. BCDC petitioned to extend its temporary status, and found other types of fill to regulate - things like boats and shadows on the water from trees and bridges. This set the course for an agency, which overtime lost its way. The agency was at odds with recreational boating, marinas and boatyards, even though BCDC is charged with maximizing public access to the bay. Shortly after Westpoint Harbor opened in late 2008, BCDC began alleging a variety of permit violations and demanding large fines. The violations included public agency boats (fire department and police department) were deemed illegal in the marina; all personal watercraft were illegal and prohibited; swimming and fishing in the marina basin were mandatory public access; no fees or check-in for guest slips or launch ramp were permitted. At one point, the agency even made automatic bilge pumps illegal. In all, BCDC claimed more than 100 allegations against Westpoint Harbor. Westpoint Harbor was not alone in its difficulties with BCDC. With less than 500 major permits in the bay, BCDC had 227 enforcement actions pending. It is well known this small agency was using enforcement fines to fund itself, and had become a scourge in the bay, shaking down cities, ports, restaurants, marinas and boatyards. A few, including Westpoint Harbor, refused to submit and chose to fight. After seven years of legal wrangling to the tune of $1.7 million in legal fees, Sanders prevailed. Citizens groups and boating organizations (including the Marine Recreation Association, the San Francisco Bay Steward Alliance and the Recreational Boaters of California) joined the fight. Finally, California legislators got involved to reform the agency. A citizen advocacy group called Friends of Westpoint Harbor lobbied legislators to expose the agency's activities and push for an audit of BCDC with a 5,000-signature petition and hundreds of letters. A formal state audit of BCDC was ordered in August 2018. By the end of the year BCDC formally dropped all enforcement actions against Westpoint Harbor, all claims of permit violation and demands for penalties. In return, Westpoint dropped its suit against BCDC (other suits are still pending against the agency). Much like his commitment to the long permitting process, Sanders was determined to fight an enforcement action he saw as vindictive, wasteful and limiting public access to the water. He was not alone in the battle to get BCDC back to its mission with lots of active partners, and encouraged others to resist such extortionist practices. These struggles, however, do not define Westpoint Harbor. Its innovative development, use of technology, and forward- thinking practices continue to shape the marina. It is widely regarded as an example of thoughtful and environmentally positive projects. In 2018, the marina celebrated its 10th anniversary.
The marina development faced many regulatory challenges. The struggles continued during operation with governmental fines and regulations until the marina fought back.Previous Page