Blips on the radar — June 19

Work continues on San Salvador

What Happened: San Diego officials and the Maritime Museum of San Diego hoped to launch a replica of San Salvador in April. However, just ahead of the planned christening it was determined the replica ship might not be able to stay afloat once launched. The launch was indefinitely delayed and workers continued to modify the ship’s specifications.

The San Salvador replica pays tribute to a galleon commanded by Juan Cabrillo in the 16th century. Cabrillo was reportedly the first European to land in the San Diego area when his fleet arrived on the shores of Point Loma in 1542. The Port of San Diego and Maritime Museum of San Diego decided to build a replica of San Salvador to commemorate a piece of the city’s history. Once in the water, port and city officials plan to designate San Salvador as one of San Diego’s top tourist attractions.

What’s On Tap: Workers have continued to work on San Salvador in a parking lot near Harbor Island. A representative of the Maritime Museum estimated the replica galleon could be ready as early as July. Instead of driving the ship to Broadway Pier, where the launch was originally scheduled to take place, an official overseeing the final work on the boat hinted San Salvador could be dropped in the water at a Coast Guard launch ramp adjacent to the work site. 

Newport Beach delays adoption of new jetpack ordinance

What Happened:
The future of jetpack operation in Newport Harbor continues to remain in the balance, as the Newport Beach City Council voted on June 9 to postpone its decision to approve or deny a second reading of an ordinance allowing water propelled vessels in the bay.

Council members adopted an ordinance on May 26 to allow one commercial jetpack operator to offer its services at the harbor’s turning basin, just two weeks after shooting down a proposal to ban the operation in Newport Harbor. 

Council members fell short of making the ordinance official when it returned to the dais for a second reading on June 9. Mayor Ed Selich’s proposal to delay the second reading until June 23, hoping a full dais would be able to vote on the issue, passed by a 3-2 vote. 

Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon volleyed back and forth on whether to allow jetpacks in the harbor since the City Council began weighing in on the issue earlier this year. She joined her colleagues in unanimously supporting an initial proposal to find some way to allow jetpacks in the harbor. However, when city staff returned to council in April with such a proposal, Dixon said she could not support jetpacks in the harbor because she received complaints of the operation being too loud.

Dixon was then part of the majority vote approving limited jetpack use late last month before withdrawing her support again during second reading on June 9.

Ryan Eastman, a Newport Beach resident and Jetpack America operator, said his company is doing everything possible to function within the city’s prescribed parameters.

What’s On Tap: The ordinance’s second reading will be on the City Council’s June 23 agenda, though a vote could be delayed if any of the council members are not present.

Jetpack America continues to operate in Newport Harbor.

Redondo Beach installs sea lion barge in King Harbor

What Happened: The onset of June generally means an influx of tourists and visitors Redondo Beach’s coastline and harbor. City officials are hoping the new barge it installed June 2 in King Harbor will be a major draw for a different kind of crowd: sea lions. 

The new 700-square-foot barge was installed in an attempt to draw sea lions away from boaters frequenting the city’s four marinas and onto the wooden dock.

Redondo Beach’s City Council authorized the barge in April, financing the new dock with $53,000 from the city’s tidelands fund. The barge’s estimated capacity is 116 sea lions.

What’s On Tap: City and marina officials hope the sea lions will begin using the barge instead of roaming the parking lot, resting on a dock or hopping aboard a boat.

Preliminary hearing set for Brian Cleveland Dunn

What Happened:  A preliminary hearing for Brian Cleveland Dunn, the Orange County contractor accused of misappropriating funds while operating out of Dana Point Harbor, is scheduled for June 26. 

The court originally scheduled Dunn’s pre-trial hearing in November 2014 and rescheduled the appearance six times between Jan. 29 and June 5.

A preliminary hearing is essentially a trial before the trial, where the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to move forward with a court case.

What’s On Tap
: Dunn’s preliminary hearing, barring a rescheduling, will take place June 26 in Department C55 of the Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. The hearing is on the 8:30 a.m. docket.

Port of San Diego to solicit federal lobbying services

What Happened: The Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the agency’s staff to publish a request for proposals for a federal lobbying firm.

San Diego’s port has not been represented by a federal lobby in Washington, D.C., since 2013, when budget constraints forced the agency to terminate its contract with Acalde and Fay. According to port staff, a federal lobby could help the Unified Port District stay abreast of key legislative decisions.

“This year will be a key year on a number of major federal legislative initiatives that could impact funding for the diistrict over the next five years. [Port] staff expects movement in Congress on a new Surface Transportation Reauthorization and also on an immigration bill which may contain additional funding for Homeland Security needs,” a port staff report stated. “In the past, the funding rules have been structured in such a way to disadvantage Ports such as ours. It is important to have a constant presence in Washington to make sure that the District is aware of all that is going on.”

Commissioners approved the resolution at its June 11 meeting.

What’s On Tap: Port staff will issue its request for proposals and, with the board’s approval, hire a federal lobbying firm. The services could cost as much as $160,000.

Cheyenne skips Harbor Commission meeting

What Happened: The owner of a 125-foot catamaran in Newport Harbor failed to update Newport Beach’s Harbor Commission of how his planned deep sea dive project is progressing. Chris Welsh had consistently provided the commission with monthly updates between January and May. However, he was not present at the commission’s June 8 meeting and did not provide the Harbor Resources department with a written update.

Welsh’s Cheyenne has been moored in Newport Harbor for about four years. Late last year, the Harbor Commission mandated Welsh to provide the group with 30-day progress reports and indicate when he would be ready to embark on his expedition to dive the deepest points of the world’s oceans. The Harbor Commission gave Cheyenne until August to be fully operational and ready to embark on the dives; commissioners reserved the right to essentially evict Cheyenne from the harbor if they were not satisfied with Welsh’s monthly progress reports.

What’s On Tap: Cheyenne’s fate could be determined July 8. Welsh’s permit to park his catamaran in Newport Harbor expires July 31. Commissioners are expected to review Welsh’s progress at their July 8 meeting and decide to extend the permit, evict Welsh from the harbor or delay a decision until August.

Newport Beach could change mooring management service provider

What Happened: Newport Beach’s City Council directed its staff to solicit proposals from private and public entities to provide mooring management services in Newport Harbor.

Mooring management services are currently provided by county officials. However, according to city staff, the annual cost of those services could reach $404,000 by 2020, a 224 percent increase from the $180,000 per year Newport Beach paid Orange County to administratively manage the city’s moorings.

Council members did approve the county’s contract with Newport Beach, which was set to expire this month, be extended six months as city staff solicits and reviews bids from other entities.

As part of the solicitation for proposals to provide mooring management services, staff would also like to explore options to bundle other related and compatible services into the work scope such as operating and servicing rental slips at the new Marina Park visitor-servicing marina, sea lion abatement, and harbor-wide trash and debris removal. These additional services may augment daily or seasonal job duties,” according to city staff. 

Between 2010 and 2015, Newport Beach’s payments to Orange County increased each year from $180,000 in fiscal year 2010-11 to $290,000 currently..

In May, Orange County proposed charging Newport Beach $316,100 for mooring management services through June 2016 with the annual fee increasing each year until it reach $404,622 in 2020.

What’s On Tap: City staff will pay Orange County $158,050 to provide mooring management services for the next six months. During those six months, City Hall will review any submitted bids to take over the mooring management services. The Harbor Commission would advise city staff and the council of the scope of services.

June 2015 is Breakwater Awareness Month

What Happened: California Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell and The Surfrider Foundation hosted an on-the-water event in Long Beach on June 13 to commemorate Breakwater Awareness Month. It was the first of two scheduled events co-hosted by the state legislator and Surfrider Foundation’s Long Beach chapter.

The first event, Paddle Out in Memory of the Waves, was held at a beach near Ocean Boulevard and Granada in the Belmont Shores area of Long Beach. This event and a community workshop scheduled later this month aim to raise awareness of Long Beach’s former designation as a surfer destination. 

The “hang ten” waves disappeared after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a breakwater just off the Long Beach coast to allow for residential development at local beaches, marinas to be built in the area and the expansion of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

What’s On Tap: Long Beach officials and the Army Corps of Engineers will reportedly conduct a feasibility study if the current breakwater. A community meeting will be held June 25 at Made in Long Beach, 236 Pine Ave. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. Robert Garcia, Long Beach’s mayor, is expected to attend the meeting, where an update of the feasibility study will be provided and awards presented.

Officials are studying whether it would be feasible to re-configure the breakwater in order to re-introduce large waves along the Long Beach coastline. O’Donnell’s staff stated a re-configured breakwater could bring new tourism to Long Beach’s beaches and help pump some extra money into the local and state economy.

Coastal Commission approves fire rings plan

What Happened:
A compromise to offer charcoal- and wood-burning fire rings at public beaches in Newport Beach was approved by the California Coastal Commission on June 10. Commissioners voted 9-1 in favor of a Newport Beach plan to reconfigure 40 fire rings near Balboa Pier and at Newport Dunes. A plan to adjust 24 fire rings at Corona Del Mar was put on hold.

The vote ends a nearly two year process where local residents, city leaders and state officials clashed over the use of fire rings at Balboa Pier, Coronado Del Mar and Newport Dunes.

Newport Beach sought to restrict the use of wood in the city’s fire pits, instead urging visitors to use charcoal. However, state officials disapproved of the policy. A compromise was ultimately reached where the city would designate certain fire rings for wood and others as charcoal-friendly.

Some of the fire rings will be accessible to disabled persons.

What’s On Tap: The state owns Corona Del Mar Beach and leases the public venue to Newport Beach. According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Coastal Commission does not have the authority to issue any permits there. Both agencies will work together to decide how to resolve the 24 fire rings at the state-owned beach. Under the Newport Beach plan, Corona Del Mar State Beach would have a mix of 16 wood-burning and eight charcoal-friendly fire rings.

The fire rings at Balboa Pier and Newport Dunes could be reconfigured in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

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