Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Steve McGrath was terminated from the Port San Luis Harbor District; rather, his employment contract was not renewed.
After 10 years with the Port San Luis Harbor District, harbor manager Steve McGrath is leaving.
At a special meeting Thursday afternoon, the district’s Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 not to renew McGrath’s employment contract, which expires Nov. 30. No explanation was given for the decision.
The vote came as McGrath waits to hear whether he will be hired as harbor manager for the San Mateo County Harbor District. He began negotiations with that district several months ago.
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He said he did not know if his application for the San Mateo job had any bearing on the board’s decision to not renew his contract but doubts it.
“There has been a divided commission for quite some time, and some have expressed dissatisfaction with my performance,” he said. “I think the decision yesterday would have occurred with or without San Mateo.”
Commissioners Bill Barrow, Dave Kirk and Drew Brandy voted in favor of not renewing McGrath’s contract, while commissioners Mary Matakovich and Jim Blecha dissented.
McGrath started in 2005 as the district’s facilities manager and was promoted to harbor manager in 2007. He said he told the board he would do everything he could to make the transition as easy as possible.
“I have a really good staff down here, and we run a really tight ship,” he said. “I can leave with no regrets at all.”
Blecha said he was disappointed by Thursday’s vote.
“The preponderance of positive, clearly beneficial and needed improvements that Steve has brought to the district during his tenure as harbor manager far outweigh, in my opinion, the vague reasons the majority of the harbor commissioners considered to vote not to extend his contract,” he said.
Blecha said he could not comment further on the vote because it was a personnel matter that was discussed in a closed session of the board. McGrath is an at-will employee of the district, meaning the commissioners do not have to give a reason for not renewing his contract.
Matakovich said she could not comment on the decision. The other commissioners were not available for comment Friday.
The commission will now start the process of looking for a new harbor manager. This process typically takes “months, if not a year,” to complete, Blecha said.
McGrath said he is gratified to be the finalist for harbor manager of the San Mateo County Harbor District, which is roughly twice the size of Port San Luis. He said the application process has taken several months and drew a strong pool of applicants.
“I hope to hear a positive outcome of those negotiations Sept. 16,” he said.
McGrath said he takes particular pride in three accomplishments during his tenure as Port San Luis harbor manager — a significant improvement in the general appearance of the harbor, final regulatory approval of the Harbor Terrace campground project and the restoration of Harford Pier and Point San Luis Lighthouse.
“The pier is solid and stable, and the lighthouse is restored and regularly receiving visitors,” he said.