Aerial photo of Santa Barbara Harbor

Waterfront Budget Approved

Waterfront revenues for Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021) are expected to exceed budget projections. The Department continues to maintain 100% occupancy in slip and lease rentals and Stearns Wharf and the Harbor continue to grow in popularity as visitor destinations.

During Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022), the Department expects to fund approximately $1.4M in capital improvements. Existing projects that will continue in FY 2022 include: the Parking Self Pay System ($50,000) which will replace aged Luke Pay Stations throughout the Waterfront); Stearns Wharf Waterline Replacement ($100,000); the Marina Annual Maintenance Program ($300,000), which includes replacing dock fingers, dock boxes, power centers, and utilities in the various marinas; Stearns Wharf Lift Station ($250,000); and, the Stearns Wharf Timber/Pile Replacement Program ($500,000). 

New projects in FY 2022 include the purchase of a new marina management software program to run the Department’s financial system ($100,000); and Sea Level Rise: Beach Nourishment ($100,000).  

As in prior years, fee increases are necessary to complete these projects, maintain the Harbor, Stearns Wharf, and other Waterfront facilities, and keep the Department’s emergency and construction reserves at required levels.

Fee adjustments, which began July 1, 2021 include:
  • Slip fee increase of 3%
  • Live Aboard Permit Monthly fee increase of 3%
  • Visitor Fee increase of $0.50 per foot to $1.50 per foot for vessels under 70 feet in length and $2.00 per foot for vessels over 70 feet in length
  • Boat impound fee increase of $65 to $100
  • Slip Permittee Annual Parking Permit Fee increase of $30 to $125 per year (effective 12/1/2021 with the sale of 2022 annual permits)
  • Termination of the Harbor Parking Validation Program
Waterfront staff reviewed the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget, including proposed fee changes, with the Harbor Commission Budget Subcommittee on February 11, 2021, and the full Harbor Commission on March 18. City Council reviewed the Waterfront Department’s proposed budget at a work session on May 5, and the City’s Finance Committee reviewed the proposed fee adjustments on May 11. City Council adopted the City’s overall budget on June 22. The approved City budget can be found on the City of Santa Barbara’s Finance Department homepage.
Woman and man check out BCycle ebikes

BCycle Comes the Waterfront
by Chris Bell, Public Information Officer

You’ve seen them all over town and the waterfront, black and white electric bikes with baskets on the front. The ubiquitous e-bikes are here thanks to a three-year Bike Share Pilot Program the City, along with program operator BCycle, launched in January 2021. The Bike Share Pilot Program provides an affordable point-to-point e-bike ride with easy access to key destinations. 

Bike share is a great option for those trips that are too far to walk, but too close to drive. The Pilot Program will ultimately include the installation of 500 docks that will serve a fleet of around 250 pedal-assist e-bikes citywide. To date, the Pilot Program has 130 e-bikes and 283 docks in service. Currently, there are 12 stations along the waterfront with 32 bikes. 

Checking out a BCycle e-bike is simple. You can use the mobile app or an RFID membership card (available online). After you check out the e-bike, ride it to a dock near your destination and park it. If you want to do a return trip, just repeat the process.

Rates are:
Single Ride $7.00
$7 per 30 minutes.

Monthly Pass $30.00
Unlimited 30-minute trips. $3 per 30 minutes after the first 30 minutes.

Annual Pass $150.00
Unlimited 30-minute trips. $3 per 30 minutes after the first 30 minutes.

Judging from the numbers, the Pilot Program is rolling along. Since the Pilot Program launched, almost 9,000 riders have taken 40,295 total trips and ridden 169,886 miles (as of August 31, 2021). And here’s a fun fact; the dock station outside of Marina Two is the fourth most-used station in the City.

At the end of the three years, the Pilot Program will return to the City’s Transportation Circulation Committee and City Council to determine if the program is a good fit for the City.  A Coastal Development Permit will be required if the program becomes permanent.

For more information, watch the video below or visit

How to use a BCycle electric bike

Cruise ship off Santa Barbara breakwater

Cruise Ship Program Pause Extended

Due to local increased COVID infection rates, the Santa Barbara Waterfront Department will be continuing the suspension of all cruise ship visits to Santa Barbara, until March 1, 2022. This will provide time to see how the impacts from COVID unfold, as well as work with the industry and stakeholders to determine the right time to reinstate this program safely.

Waterfront Director, Mike Wiltshire said in a statement, “Our cruise ship program brings millions of dollars to the local economy as well as introduces Santa Barbara to tens of thousands of people from around the world. It is a well-run program that strategically minimizes impacts by scheduling visits only during the shoulder seasons and often mid-week. That being said, the health and safety of our community, as well as the health and safety of cruise ship passengers visiting our area are our top priority so we have decided to pause the program. We remain optimistic that once we’re back to pre-pandemic status, Santa Barbara will return as a premier destination for the cruise line industry.”

The next cruise ship visit currently on the schedule is March 10, 2022.

Responsibility for Your Marina Gate Keys
by Rick Hubbard, Harbor Patrol Officer

Recently, Harbor Operations Manager Erik Engebretson and I met with a group of live-aboards from Marina 3. The live-aboards had concerns with individuals who don't have a boat in the harbor, using (and abusing) the marina restrooms and showers. Illegal entry in the restrooms is an important issue for Harbor Patrol Officers to address. Officers are aware these facilities are the primary facility for live-aboard’s use, and to arrive for a morning shower to find them filthy is very concerning.
The Waterfront Department recently undertook the daunting task of trying to account for the approximately 20,000 key cards that were in the system for the 1,187 slips in the Harbor. Old key cards were turned off and new keys were issued to slip permittees and visitors. Per Department policy, the first five key cards can be purchased for $7, and key fobs for $12. After five cards the cost jumps to $100 per key. The primary reason for this was to stop gate keys getting into the hands of individuals who do not have any lawful reason to be inside the marinas or marina restrooms. If you have a gate key that is lost or stolen, please contact Waterfront Administration 805-564-5531 to have them deactivated.

Illegal entry into the marinas and restrooms also occurs when someone follows an authorized key holder into a locked facility. Harbor Patrol recommends that you not confront these individuals, but instead contact the Harbor Patrol by phone or VHF radio. If you feel threatened you can always call 911. 

Marina Gate Key and Reader

Since January 1st Harbor Patrol has issued 25 citations for illegal entry in the marina restrooms.  Harbor Patrol checks the restrooms regularly, but can't be everywhere at the same time-that’s when the Harbor Watch comes into play.  The Harbor Watch program is run by the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol, and is similar to a Neighborhood Watch program. The purpose of the Harbor Watch program is to have slip permittees observe and report any suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities, whether boating or on land.  

As the Harbor Watch Coordinator, I want to remind slip permittees and visiting vessel owners - the responsibility for managing each gate key lies with you.  Slip permittees and visiting vessel owners are not only responsible for their keys cards, but also the actions of their guests as well.  Slip permittees are the eyes and ears of the Waterfront. By working together, we can minimize the number of illegal entries in the facilities and make the Waterfront a better, safer place for everyone.

Harbor & Seafood Festival Canceled

It is with great disappointment that we announce our beloved Harbor & Seafood Festival, scheduled for Saturday, October 16th will be canceled once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After closely following local and state COVID data and in consultation with local health authorities, we feel it is in the best interest of the community to postpone the event until next year.

The Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival is a celebration of some of the world’s best seafood and the hard-working people that sustainably harvest it from our local waters.

Waterfront Director, Mike Wiltshire said, “The Harbor & Seafood Festival is an iconic Waterfront event. It’s a ton of fun and we were really looking forward to it this year, but with significant COVID cases it’s just not an appropriate time to have 10,000+ people in close quarters in the Harbor. I’ve got high hopes for getting back to this, and all our regular events, in the coming year!"

While the Harbor & Seafood Festival is canceled this year, you can still celebrate the season opening of California Spiny Lobster and support local fishermen! The Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara and Get Hooked Seafood will have live lobster for sale and chef-made spiny lobster dishes to eat on the Maritime Museum's front patio, Saturday October 23rd from 1-4pm. Go to to learn more and RSVP to secure your spot (crowd size will be limited).

Crew Cajandig shows kelp in sea strainer

Keep Your Engines Cool
by Mark Stouder, Waterfront Vessel Technician

Boat engines need a steady flow of cooling water. When the raw water (seawater when in the ocean) stops flowing, an engine can overheat quickly. Most of the tows by Harbor Patrol for engine failure are due to overheated engines.

Inboard engines use combined raw water and internal cooling. They have engine coolant like automobile engines, and a raw water-cooling “heat exchanger” that acts like a car’s radiator. An engine driven pump runs seawater through the heat exchanger, removing heat from the engine coolant as it passes through and exits with the exhaust. A screen type filter, known as a “sea strainer,” keeps debris from entering the system. These strainers have a clear, see through body, allowing visual inspection. The filters are removable for cleaning, as a continuous, unimpeded flow of water is necessary for the system to work.

Most outboard engines cool directly with the raw water. That familiar stream of water coming from the engine shows the operator the water pump is working. If that flow weakens or stops, the bypass outlet may be blocked, or the water pump has failed and needs an overhaul. Before rebuilding the water pump, make sure that the water stream outlet isn’t blocked. Sometimes a piece of wire will clear out the obstruction. If that does not work, you may need to seek the services of a professional. Here’s a list of qualified technicians, right here in the harbor.

The primary cause of boat engine overheating is the loss of raw water flow. Always check the flow before leaving the dock.  No flow? Don’t go! Once out on the water, avoid driving through kelp and other debris that can clog up your sea strainers or intake screens. Keep your cool by keeping your engines cool.

Video - How to clean your sea strainer

Waterfront Director, Mike Wiltshire meets with citizen

Meet the Waterfront Director - Open Office Hour

Mike Wiltshire, our still somewhat new, Waterfront Director would love to meet with you and chat about anything and everything Waterfront. Mike will be holding an open office hour every Wednesday from noon to 1pm in the Harbormaster’s Office Conference Room. 

When: Every Wednesday, Noon – 1pm 
Where: Harbormaster’s Office Conference Room (132 Harbor Way, Suite A) 
How: Setup a 15-minute meeting by emailing Angela Rodriguez or  calling 805-564-5519

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City of Santa Barbara Waterfront Department
132-A Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

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