Convoluted Lease Sites Will Be Available

The City of Morro Bay plans to put three water-only lease sites in the back bay up for bids and one couple who own property upland of them all, wants to regain control of them.

The tidelands lease sites, 34West, 35W and 36W, which almost never come up for bids, sit all in a row south of the public launch ramp and opposite the 200 block of Main Street. The 34W lease consists of a 4-slip dock, located below the famous Glady’s Lighthouse, a lighthouse-shaped apartment built in the early 1980s by one-time silent film actress, the late-Gladys Walton.

The other two — 35W and 36W — are off the old Cannery seafood processing plant and at one time had a 250-foot wharf. Husband-wife team Bill Martony and Bernadette Pekarek own the Lighthouse/Glady’s Castle property (225 Main St.), as well as the Cannery next door (235 Main), which they purchased in about 2000. That Cannery property also has the former Gilbert’s Market, an old-fashioned neighborhood market and butcher shop. So whatever happens down there, Martony-Pekarek will be inescapably involved.

Harbor Director Eric Endersby characterized all three lease sites as “convoluted” with 34W having more issues over access from shore. With the other two, there is no access available from shore.

“We do have access to 34W,” Endersby said. “There are established covenants; easements for access, utilities, a restroom/shower and parking across the street legally established for it.”

Norm Arnold, along with Bob Crizer of Los Osos, redeveloped the upland property adjacent to the Lighthouse, tearing down an apartment building and constructing four little townhouses. Arnold ran into financial difficulty and “Left for Peru,” according to Martony.

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Endersby said Arnold deeded over one of the new townhouses and the water lease to Crizer, to whom he owed money. That was when the easement down to the little marina was recorded, according to Endersby. The lease for the dock is what is ending soon and the City is seeking someone to take it over and continue to operate the docks, paying the City rent.

Martony, whose Lighthouse is directly upland of 34W wants it back. “We’re trying to reattach those slips back to Glady’s old property,” he said. He added that it’s a “legal gray area” over the easement. “I don’t know how anyone else can operate 34W,” Martony said.

As to the other sites, Endersby said, “The other ones are problematic. It would be difficult for people to propose anything on it because of the upland and adjacent property owners.” Martony would probably agree with that assessment.

Starting about 2004, Martony-Pekarek and the City had a big legal fight over the old dilapidated Cannery wharf and settled out of court. The City agreed to remove the wharf and Martony agreed to pay some $41,000 of those costs, which came in at about $89,000.

Then in June 2009, local marine construction operator, Frank Loving, proposed repairing the Cannery wharf and tying his big workboats up there, accessing them by skiff from the launch ramp.

Loving’s proposal was opposed by the neighbors and went nowhere. Martony had counter-proposed a mariculture operation harvesting seaweed and processing it through the old Cannery.

The City Council refused his mariculture operation idea, too. Martony said he’d still like to do it. “It’s been 10 years now,” he said, “but that’s still our proposal.”
He said that the former harbor director, with whom he clashed with over the lease sites, wanted to put in a 50-slip marina.

“We’ll make a proposal on it,” he said. “We’ll see what we can do to reattach those sites” to the Cannery property.

Endersby plans to have the RFP ready to distribute in a few weeks. If anyone is interested, it will be available through the City’s website, go to morrobayca.gov.

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