La Jolla Shores residents speak up about kayak contract rules

During the Sept. 10 La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) meeting, residents and business owners got their last chance to offer suggestions for the next kayak concessionaire Request for Proposal (RFP) before it is prepared and presented to the city for approval at the end of this month or early next.

LJSA chair Tim Lucas explained an RFP contains the conditions that the concessionaires must abide by. “It could cover things like hours of operation, number of tours ... where kayaks are stored at night, how things get to the beach, etc.”

Representing the San Diego Lifeguards — part of the triad responsible for drafting the RFP, along with the city attorney’s office and the real estate assets department — Lt. Rich Stropky was at the meeting to answer questions and gather feedback that could potentially be integrated into the RFP.

At previous LJSA meetings, public comments on how to improve the current RFP were documented, so those improvements could be written into the next, four-year contract.

“This is the third RFP, but my impression is that every time the RFP goes out, there is progress made. There was progress from the first to the second and (presumably) the second to the third. We are 100 percent committed to making it better,” Stropky said. “We want to see if there are some things we can change to make the whole process better for everyone — kayak concessionaires, the community and the lifeguards.”

A worry that has repeatedly been brought to his attention, he said, is capacity. Currently, approximately 54 tours can be put on the beach in a day, with 10 kayaks per tour. He said capacity cannot exceed what is now in place.

“We also heard loud and clear there is an issue with the (kayak company) trucks parking,” he said, and that lifeguards are looking into the use of Kellogg Park parking lot at night and other parking options within the limits of the law. “We will look into every viable way to address that concern.”

Certain issues, such as whether surfboards and paddleboards could be integrated into the RFP and thereby follow the same rules, were verbalized at the meeting, but the RFP in development is strictly for kayak concessionaires. Other possible RFPs, Stropky said, “are on the captain’s radar.” It was also mentioned that shops that merely rent equipment, and not conduct a service (such as take kayaks down to the beach or conduct tours) are not bound by the RFP.

Shores resident Wayne Thomas worried that because the contract terms apply for four years, residents unhappy with those terms would “have to live with it.” However, Lucas explained that it’s written

into the RFP that terms be flexible enough “to allow for significant changes,” and the RFP would undergo an annual review. “I want members of the community, so all of you, not just members of our board, to be a part of that review process,” he said.

Once the RFP is approved, it will be open to businesses that would like to apply for an RFP contract. The new RFP will go into effect April 1.