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Sounding Off:

The truth about kayaking

November 07, 2008|By Billy Fried

I’d like to clarify several aspects of Barbara Diamond’s story (“Kayaking proposal resurfaces,” Oct. 17).

I have been operating a quiet kayak tour business in North Laguna for several years.

I’ve conducted business in the same manner as the other kayak company, the numerous surf instructors, and the scuba and yoga classes: The reservations are made in advance and no money is exchanged on the beach.

I bring the kayaks down for the tour and remove them immediately after.

However, due to the growing popularity, I have sought to find a more suitable location — where we don’t impinge on residents.

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After studying the entire coastline, I concluded the only other safe place to launch and land kayaks for novices is the north end of Treasure Island known as Goff Beach.

Not only does it have a protected cove that is nearly immune to dangerous shore break, it is also situated in a public beach park with parking, bathrooms and showers — all the amenities that make it suitable for a public beach activity.

It also has unimpeded, 180-degree site lines, meaning we could also offer kayak rentals, something many locals have requested. So I am not seeking to expand my business. I’m looking to relocate it.

Unfortunately, when the city of Laguna Beach drafted the Treasure Island Coastal Development Plan, they designated the Goff Beach area as a Marine Life Refuge. This does not preclude eco-friendly activities like kayaking.

In fact, non-motorized boating is specifically cited as a condoned activity that carries no environmental risk. What is precluded is staging a commercial enterprise there.

That was designated for Treasure Island’s southern beach — the one that is contiguous with Aliso Beach.

The problem is the dangerous shore break there [near Aliso Beach]. So whoever drafted the plan clearly was not cognizant of the practical and safety considerations of launching and landing kayaks.

Hence the “catch 22”: The place the city designated for commercial activities is not safe. The place that is safe was arbitrarily restricted.

So when I recommended going “back to the commission and saying we made a mistake,” I was referring to the fact that, since we wrote the Local Coastal Plan, why couldn’t we amend it?

The council recognizes what a long, painful slog that is, and hence came up with the more expedient solution of a one-year temporary use permit, to see how it goes.

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