Our view: City-harbor cooperation a good sign

By The Daily Triplicate April 04, 2009 10:08 am

Now this is an ad hoc committee worthy of consideration.

Crescent City and harbor officials are talking about exploring the possibility of the harbor being annexed by the city. Ultimately, the harbor would probably still be run by a harbormaster and Harbor Commission – its needs and attributes require specialized leadership. But it would become a service district within the city.


Why bother? That’s what an ad hoc committee appointed by the City Council and Harbor Commission would study.

It’s no panacea. Annexation would redistribute some tax revenue already generated by the city and the harbor — as well as county government, for that matter — rather than immediately producing additional revenue.

The general notion is that annexation might result in closer cooperation to help solve the harbor’s problems and better realize its potential. That could attract more businesses and tourists to the area, generating more income for the entire region.

New thinking about how our local governments can better cooperate is vital for the future of Del Norte County. That’s why this initiative is laudable, in stark contrast to a recent move by the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors to appoint a committee to study the possibility of dismantling perhaps the best example of regional cooperation we have.

The Del Norte County Solid Waste Authority represents a coordinated effort to deal with the complex issues of monitoring a closed but still environmentally sensitive landfill while overseeing solid waste collection and recycling throughout the county. Blowing it up so that the city and county can once again go their own ways on these issues — just as our collection contract with Del Norte Disposal is about to expire — would eliminate the type of regional cooperation that we in fact need more of.

Annexation by the city may or may not be the best move for our harbor, but at least its study represents possible bridge-building instead of bridge destruction. Clearly, some basic organizational changes are needed, because the harbor is downright underfunded at the same time that it represents so much potential for economic growth.

So the city and harbor deserve credit for looking into new solutions. Hopefully, their leaders will choose to establish an ad-hoc committee to study the potential advantages and disadvantages of annexation.

Meanwhile, both entities have a lot of work to do that can’t wait for the possible benefits of future annexation.

The city is in the final stages of emerging from a financial morass in which it has been uncertain how much money it has. This has long delayed so-called discretionary spending. Unfortunately, that has included a much-needed investment in the Visitors Bureau, another cooperative effort aimed at improving the economic fortunes of the entire region.

As for the harbor, it needs to build on the momentum it seems to have gained in recent weeks as plans and funding have solidified for various dredging projects and replacement of the inner boat basin.

We have a lot of work to do, and we need to watch each other’s backs as we proceed.

— The Daily Triplicate