BENICIA -- A plan to make it easier for small boaters to enjoy trips around the San Francisco Bay may be endorsed by the City Council next month.
Like other local governments with bay shoreline, the council has been asked to adopt a resolution supporting the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail.
Unlike the land-based San Francisco Bay Trail, the water trail is envisioned as a network of small-craft launching and landing sites around the bay rather than as a linear trail.
The project is in its early stages, and project managers are seeking resolutions of support as it moves from being a concept to a reality.
"In terms of our business and what we do ... it's great," Benicia Kite and Paddle Sports owner Chris Gatewood said.
His business, which opened last year on First Street, offers paddleboard, kayak and kitesurfing rentals and lessons.
"It will certainly help bring more people to First Street and the waterfront," Gatewood added.
Support from local governments ties in with another important step in the development of the water-based network -- the designation of launching and landing sites, or "trailheads," that will comprise the water trail.
Four existing Benicia launch sites have been identified as strong candidates for formal designation: the existing boat launch at the marina, the beach and promenade area at the foot of First Street, Ninth Street Park and Matthew Turner Shipyard Park on Twelfth Street.
City officials are also studying a potential water trail site in conjunction with the proposed waterfront park, at the foot of First Street.
Additional potential trailheads have been identified along the Carquinez Strait in Martinez, Crockett and Vallejo.
Bay Area-wide, 112 potential sites are envisioned, five of which have been formally designated so far in Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
In a staff report, city officials say the resolution would express the city's support of the project but wouldn't commit the city to designating any water trail sites at this time.
The site-designation step happens in a public forum; the decisions are made by the project-management team, consisting of staff from the California Coastal Conservancy, the Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways.
The concept for the project originated with Bay Access, a nonprofit group founded in 2001 by nonmotorized boaters who wanted to ensure a future in the Bay for small, human-powered watercraft.
The plan was legislated in 2005, and the final plan was adopted by the Coastal Conservancy in 2011.
Key elements include a website, maps and brochures with information about designated landing and launching sites, safe boating practices as well as information about bay wildlife and habitat. Limited grant funding for designated trailheads is also available.
In addition to promoting healthy outdoor activities and stewardship of the bay, city officials also note the project could benefit waterfront businesses.
"It's only going to add more foot traffic," he said. "People will come down, have lunch and shop a little bit."
Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at email@example.com or (707) 553-6831. Follow him at Twitter @tonyburchyns.