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City needs to move cautiously on kayak launch lottery

Summertime means kayak time and that means more people putting more boats in the water at the Shores’ - and San Diego’s - only oceanfront launch ramp.

At the same time, it means headaches for some local merchants, residents and non-paddlers that see the crazy lines to get to the ramp and the spinoff into the streets.

Now the city has stepped in and told kayak company owners that they’ll have to sign up for a lottery to get assigned launch times next summer.

While the concept is reasonable, it’s important that Park and Recreation Department officials continue the discussion they started last week so the new rules don’t become a burden on the business owners, paddlers who enjoy the sport and tourists who want to try it.

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At a meeting attended by many of the operators, city officials explained that those who want a launch slot will have to submit a “request for proposal” in order to even qualify for a chance to get a spot.

It’s not clear at this point how onerous the application process will be, how many slots each operator might get or what it will cost beyond the $500 a month the companies already pay for their permits.

Lifeguard Capt. Rick Wurts has said that as planned now the assigned launch times would only apply on summer weekends.

As we know, sometimes the little details get changed along the way. And that concerns us.

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We want the beach and the water open and accessible to the public, which in our definition includes the kayak companies and their customers. We also want La Jolla Shores to remain safe and sane, so we acknowledge the need for some sort of system that will work for everyone.

That’s why we suggest that Wurts and others working on the new lottery plan not move forward in a vacuum.

If they can work out the kinks with those who will be affected before they call for bids, everyone will be a lot happier and more supportive of the system when it goes into effect.