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City floats kayak launch proposal

Lottery system would set limits on weekends in ’09

A lottery system proposed to ease weekend congestion among kayakers at La Jolla Shores lone boat launch area seems to be floating through the system without major outcry.

“It’s the weekends during the peak season from mid-June to Labor Day where we have our biggest crowds, a fair number of rescues,” said San Diego Lifeguard Capt. Rick Wurts.

The plan would limit the number of group tours and individual kayak rentals on busy summer weekends.

“We will do a lottery draft,” said Wurts, “and (eligible) companies will get to pick time slots between 6:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with the ultimate goal of limiting the overall amount of impact at the boat launch and the amount of kayaks out on the water.”

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Kayak operators were told by city officials at a meeting on Aug. 5 they would need to submit a formal application, called a (request for proposal or RFP) to the city detailing their business plans and operating needs, to be eligible for the lottery.

A panel of judges will assess the merits of kayak applicants according to a number of criteria, then put those meeting the conditions into a lottery to be held before the 2009 summer tourist season.

Angela Harrell, co-owner of Hike Bike Kayak at 2246 Avenida de la Playa, said, “We can all work within those guidelines. The lottery schedule isn’t any big deal.”

But Harrell has other concerns about the city’s proposal. “My biggest concern is whether we’re going to be chosen as one of the companies that gets one of the RFP permits. Hike Bike has been around since 2000, but we’ve only owned it for the last year. I’m not certain how that’s going to play out in the RFP process.”

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Dale Naegle, a longtime Shores architect, said he is not opposed to commercial kayaks, but believes their use needs to be reigned in.

“I’m not against free enterprise,” he said. “My wife and I just don’t want to become policemen. My legitimate concern is the sand kayaks and their trucks bring into the alleys, streets, shops and restaurants. We’re also concerned about kayak companies using Nobel Laureate Park as a training ground.”

Naegle suggested a possible solution for regulating commercial kayak businesses. “Maybe we could charge fees to the kayak people to pay for a retired cop to monitor the (kayak) activity,” he said.