Redondo Beach's fire chief fielded criticism over the safety of the location of the boat ramp in the upcoming waterfront project, citing the benefits of the calm waters around the area for novice boaters.
Chief Robert Metzger, who also serves as the harbormaster, disagreed with current and former deputy harbor masters who expressed concern about the safety of Mole B, which would sit near Moonstone Park.
“I have always solicited input from those that matter the most to me and that's the deputy harbor staff...that doesn't mean I will agree completely with their perspective.”
Two deputy harbor masters and one former deputy harbormaster have expressed surprise over the decision to place the boat ramp near Moonstone Park rather than at three other locations: one in the middle of the anticipated waterfront revitalization project; another where King Harbor Yacht Club currently sits; the final next to the current Joe's Crab Shack. The City Council recently voted 3-1 to approve the CenterCal's final environmental impact report, which included the boat ramp. Rescue Our Waterfront announced its intent to file a lawsuit Oct. 25 for various violations and cited boat ramp safety as one concern.
Tim Dornberg, who recently retired as a deputy harbormaster, said two years ago each of the deputy harbor masters discussed the options with consultants for the city.
“Nothing was a perfect fit,” he said.
Dornberg said he was told Mole D, the location in the middle of the CenterCal project, was a nonstarter. And soon, Mole C, where Joe's Crab Shack sat, seemed to be his best estimation. But in the end, the city moved forward with Mole B.
“The selection of Mole B was a city choice after listening to a selection of stakeholders,” Metzger said.
Metzger said the location received mixed reviews. So they sat down with the deputy harbor masters and looked at modifications. Dornberg recalled the meeting independently.
“Each time I gave them (city staff) a concern, they didn't disagree, they wanted to mitigate that concern...I almost felt like I was giving them information to strengthen their argument.”
Dornberg, and deputy harbor masters Norman Matte and Chris Lubba all agreed: there's too much traffic in too tight of a space for that location to work. But Metzger saw something else: having a two-lane boat ramp would help deal with some of the concerns of getting boats in and out. And Mole B had another plus side: it has the calmest waters in the harbor.
And while Mole C, the Joe's Crab Shack location, has more room for boats to maneuver in and out, the waters are harsher. At the Oct. 11 Harbor Commission meeting, Commissioner Matthew Kilroy expressed doubt at putting a boat ramp so close to Seaside Lagoon.
“That’s not saying it’s great, I’m just saying of the choices we have, it’s one of the best choices we have,” he said at the meeting.
Metzger, who has been in the position in Redondo Beach for the last there and a half years, said he just sees a difference of opinion. The dispute doesn't mean there is friction.
“From my perspective, there is no friction. I listen to these guys because they're really, really good at what they do.”