The discussion began with Senior Planner Ken Strelo telling the council, “We have an existing (ordinance) section that we have found doesn’t make sense to us. We are trying to clean it up, to apply our knowledge as planners.”
The ordinance listed “boat storage” and “boat yards” as two different things but didn’t define the difference between them. So the revised ordinance combines them into “boat storage/yards.”
The revised ordinance specifies that these sites would be allowed to haul boats out of the water and make minor repairs, but major repairs would require the storage yard owner to get a Conditional Use Permit from the city.
“Major boat repair, such as engine repair or body work or boat building, has the potential to result in undesirable impacts from either noise or aesthetics,” Strelo’s staff report states. “Requiring approval of a Conditional Use Permit will allow the Planning Commission or City Council and staff to better evaluate the proposed use or mitigate potential impacts on a case-by-case basis.”
Normally those would be the kind of minor changes that the council would simply approve unanimously with little discussion before moving on to the next item on the agenda.
But Chris Lauritzen, owner/operator of Lauritzen Yacht Harbor, which has been in business for 50 years at the end of Bridgehead Road, let the council know he wasn’t happy about not being notified of the proposed changes to the ordinance. He noted that city officials would have needed to notify only three businesses: his, Driftwood Marina and Big Break Marina.
“You need to help get the message out on something this important,” Lauritzen told the council. “None of us marina operators were ever told there was something that would impact the way we do business.
“The next thing that gives me heartburn is minor repairs versus major repairs. You need to better define what is major and minor. Those are critical to how we do business. Bayliner (boat sales) was a $5 million business. We are trying to find a new tenant for that building. If I have to tell (prospective tenants) they have to tell staff if they are doing major or minor repairs (they may not locate there).”
He said city staff should have first consulted with the marina owners to get their input before making changes to the ordinance.
Councilwoman Pat Anderson responded, “Anything that could possibly impact the water quality is going to be something that we have to regulate.” She added that council agendas are posted in three different places and that there was not an attempt to ignore the marina owners.
Lauritzen responded that the marina owners are required to do water testing and file reports twice a year. He added, “If you have a pressure washing facility, all of that wash water has to be captured and cleaned up. Those things are already in place.”
Other council members were more sympathetic to Lauritzen’s concerns, saying that they didn’t want to put in place new regulations that would discourage businesses from locating in Oakley.
“I don’t know of anybody who knows more about the Delta and boating and marinas” than Lauritzen, said Councilman Bruce Connelley, who recommended continuing the issue to a future meeting. “I think your input would be very valuable.”
Councilman Jim Frazier suggested also getting input from the owners of the Driftwood and Big Break marinas.
The council voted unanimously to take up the proposed changes to the ordinance again at its Feb. 12 meeting.