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Sierra Point Yacht Club
500 Sierra Point Parkway · Brisbane, CA 94005-1896
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History of the Club House

by Jerry McDaniel, December 2000


Looking through the club roster, there aren’t many old timers left, and several people have asked me about how the club started and we got the club house, so perhaps now would be a good time to put it on paper.

The marina is built on the site of an old land fill. The land fill operations were completed in 1974. Subsequently, Kohl, a developer went to the city of Brisbane and offered to develop the site in exchange for a 77 year lease on the property. The city anticipated that the property taxes and other income from the development would add significantly to the city coffers. The original plan was for 12 office buildings and included a yacht club built over the water south of the harbor masters office. The Marina was part of the deal. The city borrowed the money for the marina, but the developer agreed to pay the difference between the mortgage and the berth income for several years. That time period has now expired.

The marina opened in 1984 and the club was founded not long after. The first club meetings were held in various restaurants. In 1988 the City of Brisbane rented the club a maintenance building, basically a 3 car garage, one of the three buildings to the west of our present site. We tore out two interior partition walls, built a bar, put down a rug on the bare concrete and we were in business.

From the start, we realized that this club house was only a temporary solution, since while the city owned the building, the land had been leased to the developer who could decide to develop the site at any time. We knew that eventually we would have to find a site and build a club house. It took more than a year, but after considerable (and sometimes heated) debate, in we voted to double the dues to $240 a year, the intention being that most of the dues would go into a building fund for a new club house. We never quite made it, but we came close.

In 1992 we started discussions with the city regarding a suitable site for a permanent club house. Over the course of the next 4 or 5 years we made 3 presentations to the city council. The council directed the city manager and planning director to work with us on a plan. We went to the developer about a suitable site and he did not give us much encouragement, but he did identify two parcels that were not part of the lease and were city owned. We went to the city and asked for a lease on one of those parcels, the area that is now the parking lot to the west of the club house. However the sticking point was always the city’s concern that the developer might want to use these sites, so they wouldn’t make a commitment. We were given the option of building a club house provided it could be moved to another site.

We investigated several options, modular buildings, trailers, a barge club house. The Army Corps of Engineers even offered us a building from Treasure Island or Hunters Point if we moved it. The problem with all of these options was that the building would have to meet all city and county codes as far as utilities, seismic requirements and foundations and match the architecture of the Harbor Masters Office.

We contacted trailer and modular building manufacturers, did study after study, cost estimate after cost estimate and kept getting the same answer, the building itself was only 20% of the total cost, so it didn’t make sense to cut corners and build a building that would only last a few years and couldn’t be expanded to meet future needs. We investigated financing, but found that the banks would not give us a mortgage on a building built on a site leased from the city.

Through all of this we drew up various plans of building arrangements. We tried to incorporate features of the Spinnaker and Oakland Yacht clubs as far as functionality.

When Opus bought out Kohl's lease in 1998, the city sent us an eviction notice. Fortunately we had our plans in hand and started negotiating with the city for a site. The first site we were offered was in the lower parking lot about 300 ft south of where we are now. There were several problems with that site, but the biggest one was utility hook ups. PG&E for instance wanted $15,000 to run gas & electricity and we would have had to trench across the parking lot and through the trees for water and sewer ­ the harbor master had strong objections to that. Finally the City Engineer proposed our present site and the city manager approved it.

Our plan was to build as big a building as we could afford, not skimping on the utilities and basic structure, but economizing where ever possible on finish items that could be upgraded or added later. Our assumption was that the membership would double within a year or so of opening the new club house and we would have the money for improvements. We planned on using contractors for a significant part of the work, however we found that because of the airport construction, most local contractors were so busy that they weren’t interested in doing such a small job, and either turned us down or quoted a ridiculously high price, so we wound up doing a lot more work ourselves than we planned. In one case an electrical contractor tried to hire us!

We signed a contract with a pre-cut building manufacturer and his architect/engineer drew up the building plans. Since we had to meet requirements for a commercial building, we did the site & plot plan, mechanical, electrical, lighting and landscaping drawings and submitted them to the county and city for approval. It took over 3 months for approval. The difficult parts were meeting the requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as far as access, and rest room facilities and the requirement to protect the building from methane gas seepage. (land fill area) The final step was getting the city planning commission approval.

We picked up the plans on August the 15th , started grading in September, rented a back hoe to do the foundation trenching and, set up the forms in October, built the sub floor in November, erected the building on the 11th of December, and here we are.

It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but I think it was worth it.

Dave Mills has some additions to the club history.

I enjoyed your "History of the Clubhouse" in last month's Spyglass. While I'm not ready to be called one of the "old-timers", you recalled many details that I had forgotten.

A couple of notes...Not sure, but I believe that the marina opened in mid-1982, not 1984. We came in, in late 1983, and I thought it was about a year old then. Maybe the club has records as to when the club was first formed, but I think it was about mid-1984. Perhaps I can find my old cancelled checks to find the first one I wrote when the club was formed. As far as I know, there are three charter members still paying dues...myself, and I believe Greg Harrison and John Brown.. If there are others, I'd be interested. I have a list of the charter members from April 2, 1987 when we were down to about 12 paying members. At that time, we were meeting in the Harbor Master's office, discussing whether to disband the club or make it go. It is pleasing to see that it has gone forward.

Dave