Board nixes rental plans for Jet Skis

Large crowd turns out at meeting

Plans for personal watercraft tours off La Jolla Shores stalled last week at the La Jolla Shores Association meeting.

La Jolla Water Sports LLC - a fledgling partnership composed of Bill Tincu, Stefan McKellar, ex-firefighter Chris Spounias and Cody Trout - proposes launching Jet Skis from the city’s lone beachfront ramp at the Shores.

Before the meeting, Tincu described their plan as an expansion of the kayak business.

“We’re going to take people out at about 5 mph with a certified tour guide, then take them north towards Del Mar and back,” he said. “We want people to experience La Jolla from the deep water’s perspective. You can’t get that experience anywhere else.”

Later, they presented their plan in a room filled with La Jolla Cove Swim Club members worried about safety and a UCSD professor concerned about impacts on scientific work being done at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“We’re not trying to make a big change here, just trying to offer a service,” said McKellar, a fifth-generation La Jollan. “We’re going to respect all the laws. This is our home.”

“We’re going to help the local businesses here by bringing in customers who’ll want to eat, dine and shop,” Spounias added.

Among those objecting was swim club President Bob West, who talked of the potential for conflicts between swimmers and motorized craft.

San Diego Lifeguard Sgt. David Rains said it is legal for personal watercraft and Jet Skis to launch at the boat ramp.

West said he worried about the potential for conflict.

“There are over 200 swimmers out there at a time on any summer day,” he said, “and thousands of swimmers in one day.”

Also objecting was UCSD geoscience professor Ray Weiss, who said he feared interference with measurements of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric components that have been done at Scripps Pier since the ‘60s.

“These Jet Skis burn fossil fuels, and they would interfere with those measurements,” he said.

After hearing the comments, the association board voted 8-0-4 to recommend to the parks and recreation department and mayor’s office that the proposal be rejected.

The motion opposed the plan “in the interest of the preservation of the marine environment, the impacts on marine and atmospheric research and noise pollution.”

“This is a wonderful idea, but just not the right place,” said Mary Coakley, who chairs the Association’s Parks & Beaches Committee.