South San Francisco and county Harbor District officials are hashing out details on a deal designed to assure the Oyster Point Marina/Park thrives while its surroundings are overhauled.
A subcommittee comprised of members of the South San Francisco City Council and City Manager Mike Futrell plus Harbor District commissioners along with General Manager Steve McGrath met Monday, April 17, to discuss the initiative.
The ongoing talks are inspired by the two sides’ interest in reaching a new joint powers agreement defining clear roles in managing the area facing rejuvenation under a coming massive biotechnology development.
Futrell said he believes the talks are going well, and officials are hopeful to reach an agreement by the end of the year.
“South San Francisco is working in good faith to try to improve relationships with the Harbor District, and core to that is reworking, rethinking and revising the JPA that exists between the two agencies to improve operations and maintenance at Oyster Point,” he said.
The Harbor District operates the waterfront site offering a 455-boat slip marina, yacht club, boutique hotel, 33-acre park and terminal for a commuter ferry, while the city oversees the surrounding area.
Terms of the agreement stand to take on an additional degree of importance moving forward as officials prepare for ground to be broken this summer on a biotechnology development expected to offer more than 2 million square feet of research and development space, plus an additional 1,200 proposed housing units.
The development was initially entitled years ago but fell fallow after years of inaction from the original applicant. Last year, a Chinese development firm purchased building rights and immediately began pushing the project ahead more aggressively. South San Francisco will take the lead on judging the merits of the housing application, and the issue is slated to go before the City Council later this summer.
Alongside the office and housing project, Oyster Point Developments has also offered a variety of infrastructure and environmental improvements designed to beef up amenities in the area east of Highway 101.
With work slated to begin in August, Futrell said he believes it is imperative officials land on a clear delineation of duties regarding which party is responsible for maintaining its respective grounds.
“We need a much more granular definition of who is responsible for what and a grander vision of making the site more available to our residents and community for work and play,” he said.
Looking ahead, Futrell said officials are also planning to more deeply examine the financial feasibility of $7 million worth of planned capital improvements to the marina by the Harbor District over the next five years.
During the most recent meeting, officials agreed to hire a financial expert who could examine the Harbor District’s budget and assure the work would eventually lend itself to enhanced operation offering the chance for return on upfront investment.
Futrell said the consultant will attempt to draft a model showing “a justification for that level of commitment.”
The capital improvements planned include dock demolition and replacement, removal of a bait shop portable building, sea level rise protections, plus paving maintenance and other efforts.
Futrell noted the improvements would be paid for from the district’s budget, which includes a $2 million payment by the city helping finance the construction of a new dock.
In all, he said the two sides are collaborating diligently to assure a deal is struck serving the best interest of both the city and the district. Any agreement reached by the subcommittee would then go back to the full City Council and Harbor District Board of Commissioners for ratification.
“Harbor District staff and city staff are working well together and are aligned to find a win-win solution,” he said.
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