Huntington Harbour may soon be without a fuel dock. The current owners plan to close the dock permanently in the near future, originally giving a deadline of Oct. 1.
The main reasoning seems to be the fuel tanks have reached the end of their useful life and the cost of replacing them isn’t cheap, so unless a buyer is found, the existing tanks will be filled with concrete and the fuel dock will be no more.
Once the dock is closed, the likelihood of ever getting a new fuel dock or tanks installed in the Harbour is uncertain at best. With current environmental regulations, the California Coastal Commission’s authority, and the fact that the harbour has long since been built-out makes the prospect of a new fuel dock operation finding a location and gaining the necessary approvals a lengthy, onerous effort.
A harbor without a fuel dock is like a house without a refrigerator, it’s not the end of the world, but pretty darn inconvenient. The nearest source for fuel will be in Alamitos Bay. (Which ironically means having enough gas to get there!) It also means Huntington Beach will have a harbor with limited services, making it a less desirable port than other harbors along the coast.
Harbour residents and boat owners have been imploring the city to step in, but the city has been reluctant to get involved beyond “exploring options.” On Aug. 12 the city sent out a release about a meeting scheduled for this week at a harbour resident’s home:
“The City plans to attend a meeting next week to discuss the status of the Mariner’s Point fuel docks in Huntington Harbour. Join Council Member Billy O’Connell, as well as other City leaders as they listen and address concerns of the public fuel docks.”
Along with their standard response they’ve been sending to residents who contact them:
“The City was recently made aware that the private operators of the fuel dock are looking to close the fuel dock some time after October 1, 2015. While this is a private facility, the City understands the great importance the fuel dock, Huntington Harbour’s only fuel dock, has for the boating community. After meeting with concerned representatives of the boating community, the City immediately reached out to the partnership controlling the fuel dock to explore options to preserve the current fuel dock. While not a party to any negotiations, it is the City’s desire to ensure that a public fuel dock remains open and accessible for the Huntington Harbour boating community and visitors.”
A citizen group has started a petition to save the dock and posted an informational website to dispel rumors:
Before you go hash tagging #richpeopleproblems on social media about this issue, closing the fuel dock doesn’t only affect large yacht owners. The nice people who work the dock will be out of a job, and independent boat-serving businesses like the bottom cleaning divers will be impacted.
Public safety is also a serious concern. Lance Ware, a Huntington Harbour resident and boater I spoke to is part of the group spearheading the effort to save the dock.
He points out that the dock has long served as a convenient pick-up point for boaters and recreational harbour users needing emergency help. Lance also explained the Orange County Sheriff boats stationed in the Harbour in the Sunset Marina don’t have an independent fuel source for themselves and would likely have to take time out of their patrols to fuel the boats in Alamitos Bay.
If you’re interested in acquiring a fuel dock, please let the City of Huntington Beach know as soon as possible. If you don’t have the funds or aren’t looking for a lifestyle change from your current occupation, Lance and the save the fuel dock group implore you to lend your voice to the effort by visiting the website and signing the online petition, and getting involved by attending City Council and community meetings.
Lara Anderson is a resident of Huntington Harbour, former mayor of Dana Point, and a Real Estate Broker. She can be reached at 949-677-4099 or email: LA@AndersonSeaside.com.