Rent hike delayed for bar pilots

Because of a world trade slowdown, The City agreed to delay a three-fold rent increase paid for office space used by experienced local seamen who guide ships through the Golden Gate.

The San Francisco Bar Pilots and Protective Association, an industry body representing bar pilots working in San Francisco and San Pablo bays, leases 45,174 square feet of office space for its administration headquarters from the Port of San Francisco at Pier 9.

A 20-year lease is scheduled to expire at the end of the month, and the Port and association last year signed a new lease agreement that would see the monthly rent jump in January from $30,140 to $97,109.

But Port commissioners last week agreed to defer that increase for one year after hearing from Port staff about financial difficulties suffered by the association.

The association told Port officials that the number of ships guided by its members fell from roughly 10,000 in 2006 to slightly more than 8,000 this year, Port Maritime Director Peter Dailey said.

As a result, the association’s revenue is down more than 12 percent compared with projections that had been made when the new lease was signed, Dailey told commissioners during a hearing last week.
Meanwhile, expenses are up 36 percent, Dailey said.

In exchange for deferring the rent increase by one year, the association agreed to extend its lease by two years. Instead of expiring at the end of 2024, the association’s lease will expire at the end of 2026.

Dailey said the additional two years will provide the Port with an additional $1.86 million in revenues in the long term.

The work of bar pilots gained local prominence after bar pilot John Cota accidentally directed the Cosco Busan container ship into the Bay Bridge in November 2007, causing a large oil spill.

Cota is serving a 10-month federal prison sentence for his role in the accident.

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