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Harbor commissioners balk at grand jury

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Commissioners for the Port San Luis Harbor District fired back at a county civil grand jury report that criticized the district on a number of issues ranging from boat-launch access to conflicts of interest.

The grand jury report, titled “Port San Luis: A Tarnished Jewel,” took aim at the sanding in of a floating dock and mobile hoist pier with water levels often insufficient to float a vessel; an alleged lack of competitive bidding policy for businesses; failure to promote a space used for private events; rudimentary financial records; and potential conflicts of interest in commission votes regarding the San Luis Obispo Yacht Club.

At least one of the commissioners is a member of the yacht club, the grand jury reported.

 The commission hasn’t responded to the conflict-of-interest allegations, but Harbormaster Steve McGrath said the commission will discuss the issue at its next meeting.

Commissioners admitted that the report got some things right, such as the need to promote the event space, but contend that other findings were narrow in scope or completely incorrect.

“The district takes exception to the title of the 2010 report, which belies the content of the report itself,” the commission wrote in a letter to the grand jury. “The report belittles the progress made in the last few years in repair and maintenance of the district’s facilities, the openness and accessibility to district records and governance, the enhancements for public access and recreation, and the stabilization of district finances through significant increases in enterprise revenues.”

McGrath told New Times he especially took issue with the claim that the district lacks competitive bidding policies, which he said isn’t accurate. Furthermore, he said, the grand jury focused on revenue the district loses when the sports launch is sanded in, but overlooked the 22 percent jump in overall district revenue—or roughly a quarter-million dollars—over the past three years.

“The content of the report is not what I see on the ground, and the title of the report certainly did not seem to be backed up by the content,” McGrath said. “The commission believes the district is moving in the right direction, and we stand by the statement that we’re better this year than the last, and we’ll be even better next year.”

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