I’m running for the San Mateo County Harbor District because I love our beautiful county beaches and harbors. I’m running to protect the precious coastal and bay environment, while supporting recreational opportunities and a strong sustainable commercial fishing industry.

I grew up windsurfing and sailing in San Mateo County. During my undergraduate years at UCSB, I worked on SCUBA diving boats at the Santa Barbara Harbor and later lived on the boats for a summer. More recently, I was on a masters rowing team with BIAC at the Port of Redwood City. I am an avid backpacker, hiked the John Muir Trail in 2016, and a portion of it again this year. I have had a law practice in Redwood City for over twenty years and I am also a yoga instructor.

My eight years of experience on the Menlo Park City Council (two as Mayor), seven years as a Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency Director and seven years as a Director of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, make me uniquely qualified to best serve the residents of San Mateo County as your first District 5 Harbor Commissioner.

The San Mateo County Harbor District

The San Mateo County Harbor District was established, in 1933, by the Board of Supervisors who established all of San Mateo County as the District’s boundaries. The Harbor District manages and operates Pillar Point Harbor, on the Pacific Ocean in the unincorporated area of Princeton, and Oyster Point Marina/Park on San Francisco Bay located in the City of South San Francisco.

The District was originally formed to build a harbor at Redwood City. When that didn’t happen, Coastsiders lobbied for a breakwater at Pillar Point for a harbor of refuge for the fishing fleet. The Army Corps of Engineers completed the breakwater in 1961. The Johnson Pier, docks and 369 berths, and the inner breakwater were built during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Pillar Point is a major commercial and sport fishing harbor, with 369 berths and hosts many public events.

The District took over operation of Oyster Point Marina/Park from the City of South San Francisco in 1977. It then completed construction of docks and 589 berths, a new breakwater, and onshore facilities during the 1980’s. The District diversified this recreational marina bringing in ferryboat service (134 of 589 berths were removed to accommodate ferry service, resulting in 455 berths) to the East Bay, dining cruises, marine educational programs, and cooperation with the City on area redevelopment. Additionally, there is San Francisco Bay Ferry Service from Oakland’s Jack London Square to South San Francisco.

My Top Priorities for the Harbor District

Ensure Strong Environmental Stewardship

The Harbor District received a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment dated May 3, 2018. There are many environmental concerns with serious potential impacts to the Harbor District that must be addressed. These issues include:

  • Rising Sea Level problems.
  • Incidents of severe weather.
  • Increased erosion problems.
  • Restoring habitat near the ice plant at Surfers Beach sand dunes.
  • Protecting water quality, wildlife, and the general environment in and around the harbors.

We must develop and implement a climate change crisis resiliency plan that addresses:

  • Impacts to docks and other infrastructure.
  • An increased need for sand management in the harbor from increased sediment flow and storm action.
  • A need for more resilient natural protective barriers and living levees rather than physical barriers that lead to sand depletion.
  • The threat of tsunamis and other extreme weather events.

As a Director of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, we dealt with sea level rise issues with our Strategy to Advance Flood Protection, Ecosystems, and Recreation Along San Francisco Bay (SAFER) project. The report evaluates options for protecting Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and portions of Mountain View against the 100 year storm event as well as sea level rise.

Complete the Strategic Plan and Facilities Master Plan

A Strategic Plan is a comprehensive, long range planning guide that serves as a framework for decision-making. There are many infrastructure improvements that must be addressed, including developing and implementing a Facilities Master Plan.

The Harbor Commission began the strategic planning process in January 2018. Nearly two years later on December 18, 2019, the Board voted to approve the 2019 Draft Strategic Plan. The next steps will be the Implementation Plan. I have the experience necessary to finish this project. While on the Menlo Park City Council for eight years, where we implemented Strategic and Master Plans to guide the city’s vision and development.

Completing the Strategic Plan is the first step that will lead to developing Master and Climate Change Crisis Resiliency Plans. We must also improve plans for dealing with emergencies such as those caused by climate-change-driven sea level rise and tsunamis. I look forward to completing the Strategic Plan to move the Harbor District in the right direction.

Enhance Public Safety

It is important for visitors, including those with disabilities, to experience a real working commercial harbor, and purchase seafood direct from the vessels, in a safe manner that does not adversely impact important operations on the pier. We need to ensure that the public is well informed and safe when they visit the Harbor. Some of the ways to do this include:

  • Engage citizens in safety training and programs.
  • Develop and implement training for the public on big wave surfing rescue and first aid.
  • Provide tours at the harbor to teach public safety.
  • Provide opportunities to obtain a California Boater Card.
  • Develop and implement a Harbor evacuation plan.
  • Develop Environmental guidelines for kayakers and paddle boarders.

Implement Facility upgrades

Facility upgrades are guided by a facilities/infrastructure master plan, which also needs to be implemented by the Harbor District. The goal is for high-quality, modern facilities that reliably and efficiently serve lessees, harbor users, and visitors, cost-effectively and in an environmentally sound manner. The improvements must result in better usability and user experiences for workers, visitors, and lessees as well as address safety.

The infrastructure at Pillar Point Harbor needs substantial upgrade and replacement. There was a Marina Facility Condition Survey completed in 2014. Some of the projects that must be completed now include:

Ensure Fiscal Responsibility

The District’s financial position is strong, however, it needs further improvements to financial reporting and transparency, as wells as longer-term and more detailed financial planning. The District loses substantial revenue due to legacy contracts with lessees that don’t provide adequate revenue to sustain proper maintenance and services. The District must update these contracts to provide fair and reasonable lease terms for all.

My goals include the following:

  • Manage debt appropriately and develop a debt policy plan.
  • Follow policies to ensure future leases and contracts are fair and beneficial to both the Harbor District and lessees.
  • Evaluate lease contracts to identify opportunities to better enforce or improve lease contracts to provide adequate returns to pay for proper harbor services and maintenance. Contracts should be fair to both the District and the lessee.
  • Continue to improve financial reporting. Update the budget plan to achieve the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (CAFR).
  • Ensure that the Annual Financial Report is complete, transparent, and understandable so that the Commission, staff, and interested members of the public can assess the financial health of the District.
  • Subscribe to OpenGov. to proactively, transparently share Harbor District financial data with the public. The Harbor District Budget should be easily available and organized in the best manner for the public to use.
  • Ensuring that there is always a balanced budget and a plan to pay for improvements.