Fix Our Harbors

San Mateo County Harbor District

The Half Moon Bay fishing, boating and surfing community would like facilities modernized at Pillar Point Harbor. It's time to fix crumbling infurtructure, chronic water pollution, dangerous working conditions on Johnson Pier, unsafe docks, inadequate public restrooms, outdated visitor serving facilities, poor wifi connectivity and compromised trail access.

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Op-Ed by Captain Mike McHenry: Reform Our Troubled Harbor Commission

Mike McHenry Half Moon Bay Fisherman

I’ve been an active Half Moon Bay commercial fisherman for 56 years and a leaseholder at Pillar Point Harbor for over 30 years.
 
Grand Jury Report
 
After reading the July 2014 Grand Jury recommendation to dissolve the San Mateo County Harbor District, and the arrogant response by Harbor Commissioners, hopefully voters will begin to understand the difficulties commercial fishermen, leaseholders, live aboard tenants, and sports fishing interests are up against. 
 
DA Investigation & General Manager's Retirement
 
On Sept. 3, 2014 the District Attorney mailed a letter to the law firm representing the Harbor District. The letter is part of an inquiry into the California Maritime Infrastructure Bank & Authority and followed recent interviews with senior members of the Harbor Commission. At the Sept. 3rd Harbor District meeting Commissioner Jim Tucker said a DA investigator interviewed him regarding Harbor District general manager Peter Grenell's activities as president of the bank and chair of the authority. At the same meeting Peter Grenell announced his retirement from the Harbor District after serving 17.5 years as the general manager. Grenell's last day will be December 30, 2014.  
 
Cautious Optimism
 
A thorough executive search for a highly qualified General Manager has the potential to fix the Harbor District’s management problems. To ensure the best candidate is hired, we must elect new Harbor Commissioners.
 
Commission Out of Touch
 
In 2012 the Harbor Commission levied the highest fish unloading fees on the West Coast. The fees are passed onto fishermen and ultimately onto consumers. For the past several years I’ve attended countless Harbor District meetings to raise awareness regarding the harm these fees are having on small fishing businesses and the local economy. Commissioners Jim Tucker, Will Holsinger and Robert Bernardo stubbornly insist they are entitled to a percentage of the commercial fishing fleet's catch without the risks involved in going to sea. Commissioners are aware that the fees they’re imposing are inconsistent with market conditions at other commercial fishing ports. Commissioners should understand that requiring arbitrarily high fees for unloading fish at Pillar Point Harbor isn't a sustainable approach to generating revenue.
 
Fiscal Mismanagement
 
The Harbor District recently misplaced $40,000 in tenant checks for berthing, and $30,000 in fishing fees are missing. Over the past few years members of the public have asking numerous questions about accounting irregularities. When bank records were requested management made excuses and refused to provide useful information. When the missing fishing fees were brought to light, management slapped leaseholders with an audit handled by a consultant. The consultant was uninformed regarding which documents were needed to perform an audit and neglected to include a due date on requests.
 
Culture of Favoritism
 
At Pillar Point Harbor, three business owners lease three fish unloading stations. Oddly, preferential treatment was granted to the fish unloading business that came up $30,000 short paying fees in 2013. The Harbormaster approved installation of a new hoist outside the designated lease area. This windfall doubled the leaseholders' dock space yet their rent did not go up. Currently each leaseholder pays an equal amount in rent regardless of this new special arrangement for only one of the lease holders. Two of the three leaseholders were never offered a chance at expansion and the District’s Harbormaster was in such a rush get the new hoist installed that he completely forgot to apply for permits from the Coastal Commission and the County Planning Department.
 
Shredding & Videotaping
 
Recently we learned that Harbor management has a bad habit of shredding documents. The District’s own document retention policy requires that many of these documents be retained. Last year Commissioner Jim Tucker argued that public access television broadcasts of board meetings was like a “fungus.” In response to Tucker’s groundless concerns the board majority voted to discontinue meeting videos.
 
Poor Performance
 
Complaints from tenants and fishermen have grown over the past few years, and in response the board majority has taken steps to stifle public comment and move it to the end of four-hour meetings. The General Manager and the board president intentionally schedule agenda items relevant to Pillar Point Harbor's commercial fishing fleet for meetings held in South San Francisco, and they intentionally stack agendas for Half Moon Bay meetings with items relevant to Oyster Point Marina. At every opportunity, t
hey block the public’s ability to participate. A few weeks ago Commissioners rewarded poor performance by voting 4-1 to give the General Manager a raise and a contract extension. Now we learn he’s retiring under the dark cloud of the Grand Jury Report and a DA investigation.
 
November 2014 Election
 
Incumbent candidate Jim Tucker has a new campaign website that lists his endorsements. I was surprised and disappointed to see who’s on his list of supporters. I wonder whether those endorsements were made prior to the June 2014 publication of the Grand Jury report.
 
Vote only for Nicole David (4 year seat) and Tom Mattusch (2 year seat) and reform our troubled Harbor Commission.
 
Please contact me with any questions 650-703-5498.

-Mike
 
Michael D. McHenry
Merva W (60-foot fishing vessel built in 1971)
Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association
Leaseholder, Pillar Point Harbor
Berth Holder, Pillar Point Harbor
New York Times: Swim to Sea? These Salmon Are Catching a Lift

Scott Grindy's creepy video surveillance of hillside residences

El Granada residents should beware of inappropriate use of "Homeland Security" video surveillance by Harbormaster Scott Grindy.

Everett port ends golf ball surveillance

Friday, May 22, 2009 at 3:41pm

EVERETT, Wash. —

When golf balls began pelting the Port of Everett's shipping terminal, security officers trained their anti-terrorism cameras on the nearby hillside neighbors, hoping to catch the mystery duffers.

But after residents complained of being spied on, port officials turned the surveillance cameras around. Nevertheless, the barrage of balls has ended.

Scott-Grindy-Harbormaster-Harbor-Master-Port-District-San-Mateo-County-Camera

"In hindsight, we realize the golf balls are a public safety issue, not a threat to the terminals in terms of somebody breaking in," port security director Scott Grindy told The Herald of Everett. "Aiming at the hillside probably wasn't an appropriate use."

Police reports were filed and the video cameras were trained on Rucker Hill after dozens of golf balls landed on the port property in recent weeks, which Grindy said endangered workers and equipment.

The cameras, obtained with some of the more than $2.3 million in federal Homeland Security money for the port, never spotted any balls being hit, and the effort will not be resumed, Grindy told The Associated Press on Friday.

"We've decided to keep our cameras on our perimeter and security fence," he said.

Residents who learned about the surveillance from an article published by The Herald newspaper on May 16 were upset they were being watched.

"If they have the ability to tape my house, there should be a written policy to determine who can see these tapes and how they are used," Dave Miller, whose bedroom window faces the port, told the Everett paper.

Charlene Rawson, chairwoman of the Port Gardner Neighborhood Association, which includes Rucker Hill and the port's terminals, arranged a meeting with port Executive Director John Mohr.

"We had a nice conversation about it," said Rawson, who initially said she believed the port's actions violated people's privacy. "The port said they don't have the cameras pointed at any particular house."

There's no way for the public to determine exactly what the cameras recorded. Port officials said they cannot share video footage because of Homeland Security rules, not can they disclose the location of cameras or answer whether they can pan or zoom.

Grindy said port officials are now working on a surveillance policy.

The only reported damage from the wayward balls was a broken window in a vacant pickup truck two weeks ago. But Grindy said near misses were reported by crews on Amtrak passenger trains, Sounder commuter rail and Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight trains.

Golfers apparently were practicing at the top of the hill in an area where the port terminals, railroad tracks and a public footpath cannot be seen, he said.

"I think the whole issue is that an avid golfer is not realizing that there's all this stuff below," he said.

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