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La Jolla Shores Association

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Kayak RFP renewals 2014

The kayak RFP (request for proposal) was finalized and distributed to businesses interested in be becoming a concessionaire for the next 3 years.  By now all the potential concessionaires have submitted their proposals for evaluation and final selection.  The process is a bit murky from this point forward, as the criteria for evaluating the submittals and selecting the concessionaires to be awarded contracts has not been documented for the public.

The RFP was the result of hard work done by the City of San Diego Lifeguard Services under the direction of Chief Rick Wurtz.  Special kudos go to Lt. Rich Stropky, assisted by lifeguard kayak ambassador Elizabeth Palmer.  Lt. Stropky in particular, listened to many hours of public comment and met with concerned residents and business owners through this process, documenting all the issues and trying to incorporate solutions to the problems.  The resultant RFP has many stipulations and conditions for the concessionaires that should benefit the community.  In particular, there are to be no more business kayak trucks or trailers parked at night in the residential neighborhoods, the kayak tour time slots are more evenly divided among the concessionaires so that there will be far fewer trips made by trucks dropping off and picking up kayaks, and there will also be smaller groups walking to and from the boat launch area, which should ease the sidewalk congestion somewhat.  Make no mistake, there will still be lots of kayaks on the water, and lots of people participating in the tours and walking through the business district.  There is no magic solution that will address the demand for kayak tours by the public, help keep our business district shops and restaurants busy, and not have the side effects of crowds and congestion.  This kayak RFP is far better than the previous RFP's, and this summer should be better than in previous years.  The 51 page document is here for your information:


Kayaking has become a very popular watersport, and there is tremendous demand for tours and boat rentals.  Along with this rise in popularity is the side affect of more people, traffic and congestion on the beaches and streets.  On the plus side Kayaks and other watersports bring in tourists to the area which help the other businesses in our district.  To help mitigate some of the negative issues, the city set up a RFP (request for proposal) process and awarded franchises to vendors with "brick and mortar" stores that allow them to deliver and store a certain numbe of kayaks and paddles on the beach in designated areas.  In these contracts are stipulations regarding operating hours, number of kayak rentals an hour, number of kayaks that can be stored on the beach,  the requirement that all kayak equipment be stored in the stores at night (not in trucks on the street), and many other requirements.  The second set of RFP contracts is set to expire this winter.  

There are currently five kayak concessionaires that are able to run tours from the beach and store kayaks.  There are a maximum of 54 tour slots available daily, with up to 10 kayaks per tour.  This means a maximum of 540 kayak rentals a day, which are divided among the five concessionaires based on their contracts with the city.   There are other kayak businesses in the area, which are not regulated by the RFP, and they rent kayaks with trolleys, which the customers have to transport to the beach on their own. 

The three-year RFP contracts with the city for kayak franchises in La Jolla Shores area are up for renewal.  At our July 9 LJSA meeting Lt. RIch Stropky and Lifeguard Elizabeth Palmer of the Lifeguard Division gave a presentation on the RFP process and then took public comment and answered questions.
   These bullet points provided by Lifeguard Palmer capture the essence of the comments from the July meeting and can be categorized into the following basic concerns:
  • Capacity issues
  • Boat Launch Congestion
  • Too Many Kayaks
    • Creating an Unappealing Appearance
    • H2O Congestion with respect to too many Kayaks
  • Growth issues on the part of the Concessions
  • Street Congestion
  • Kayak Storage Issues
    • At Venues
    • In Boat Launch
  • Unprofessional looking Trucks
    • Stacked too high with kayaks
    • Parking in back alleys blocking access
  • Excessive Morning Noise in the BL
  • No Control Over Concessions in BL in the Off Season

The complete set of notes from Lifeguard Palmer are found in this document:  Input for Upcoming Kayak Concession RFP.docx

This topic will be coming back to the LJSA in September. 
Public comment and suggestions have been taken.   Input has also been taken directly by the lifeguard representatives from members of the community and with kayak vendors.  It is hoped that the Kayak RFP will address many of the issues, and that the contracts with the concessionaires will result in improved operations from both the comminity and vendor perspectives.