The battle for sportfishing in Oceanside Harbor may not be over.
Although Helgren’s Sportfishing was scheduled to lose their 38-year-long lease in May of 2017, on November 2 it was discovered that the fishing-charter business had a clause in their initial lease that gave them 60 days to renegotiate.
1540 Harbor Drive, San Diego
“That would be like buying a three-bedroom house and then being told you’re only getting two bedrooms,” said Ernie Prieto, captain of the Mission Bay–based Chubasco II.
Prieto is one of three partners involved with the proposed new landing, the Oceanside Sea Center. He plans to move his boat and crew to the Sea Center and join Oceanside Harbor–based Sea Star captain Joe Cacciloa and the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER).
On August 23, after reviewing requests for proposals submitted by both Helgren’s and the Sea Center partners, city staff awarded the exclusive lease negotiation rights to the Sea Center partners.
“It was unanimous,” said Cacciloa. The city manager, city attorney, property manager, and harbormaster all approved the start of lease negotiations with the Sea Center.
Since the first meeting with city staff on September 12, the Sea Center partners say the city has been mum on moving forward. “There’s been no second meeting,” said Cacciloa.
Meanwhile, sources say Helgren’s owner Joey Helgren and some of his supporters showed up to speak at the September 21 city-council meeting. At that time, mayor Jim Wood stated he would hope that Helgren’s could continue to be involved, although he did not request city staff to proceed in that direction.
At a council meeting on November 2, the three Sea Center partners spoke to the council, saying that the city’s staff hadn’t moved forward on their lease arrangement. Mayor Wood excused himself from the dais prior to the group’s presentation.
No discussion by councilmembers was allowed during the public comment/non-agenda period, but councilmembers Esther Sanchez and Jerry Kern greeted and spoke of support for the Sea Center partners prior to the meeting’s start.
Cacciloa, who has subleased dock space from Helgren’s since 1982, is leading the Sea Center partnership. A federal court case stopped attempts by Helgren’s to evict him — an order that remains in place until the end of the year. Cacciloa said he was recently served an eviction notice by Helgren’s, effective the first of next year.
On November 2, city councilman Jack Feller confirmed that Helgren’s had a renegotiation clause in their lease. “So we are in the process of that right now,” he said.
A source says Helgren’s 60-day renegotiation window closes on December 4, when city staff is expected to advise all parties as to the future of the new lease negotiations.
The author is chair of Oceanside Senior Anglers' scouts program.