NEWPORT BEACH – The Newport Beach Harbor Commission’s Multiple Vessel System Ad Hoc Committee agreed on the total number of docks and their possible locations during a meeting held March 31 at the Civic Center.
“I think we made a lot of progress,” said Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery, who serves as chair of the ad hoc committee The group of mooring holders, residents and harbor stakeholders sat around the table discussing specifics of the pilot program that is scheduled to be floated later this year.
After much dialogue, the committee agreed to a 12-month trial period, launching a total of six docks — three floating docks in mooring field C, one dock in D field or in F field and one 60-foot dock at the H81 mooring that was volunteered by John Brelin. City held moorings and transient moorings will be used in the pilot program.
“One year will give us an opportunity to see various seasons,” said Chip Donnelly, Newport Mooring Association member. The committee has two months to deliver a recommendation to the City Council. Mayor Rush Hill revealed his plans to change the harbor’s longstanding boat storage format on Feb.7, when he announced his goal to open up the harbor to more recreational uses by removing mooring cans while installing new docks that will provide water and power service to mooring holders. Harbor Commissioners accepted the undertaking during a Feb. 26 meeting.
At the first meeting, the ad hoc committee outlined its goals and mulled over the feasibility of the project. Speakers discussed how not all mooring fields are the same and what works for one field may not work for others. While some fields may benefit from converting moorings to floating docks and some mooring holders may want water and electricity service, others may not value those amenities.
Water was determined to be more important to mooring permittees then having access to electricity while tied up.
Donnelly explained that floating docks are not a high priority for mooring holders.
“We polled mooring permit holders by email and offered them a survey to rank in order of priority what’s important to them,” he explained. “The floating docks were the least popular.”
According to the survey conducted by The Newport Mooring Association from March 13-24, of the survey’s 39 respondents, top priorities ranked as follows: (1) work dock; (2) dinghy storage; (3) parking permits; (4) mooring spacing; (5) water taxi and (6) floating docks.
In an earlier “Do you want floating docks” survey conducted Feb. 15 to March 24, six mooring holders responded “yes, I want to trade in my mooring for a floating dock,”; three said they wanted to try a floating dock before making a decision and 52 of the 61 respondents said no to trading in their mooring for a dock.
The pilot program will change the harbor’s current mooring system to a floating dock system where water and power will be available. Benefits of the pilot system include more open water for recreational use.
A speaker at the March 31 meeting worried that the new floats may lead to more open space and possibly new moorings. Avery explained that adding new moorings is against the whole idea of the pilot program, which is meant to open up the bay and provide more amenities to mooring permittees.
George Hylkema asked the committee if there was something they could do to assure mooring holders that they will not be required to opt in to get a floating dock if the pilot program proves a success.
“When the mayor says he wants to do something for the moorings we’re a little suspicious,” he explained. “We need some assurance that there will be a vote there and having a individual mooring is not threatened.”
Solar panels were ruled out for the trial project along with electricity and water capabilities. Avery discussed using one of the floating docks, preferably the H81 mooring, as a wash down service dock.
“I’d like to see as many mooring permits holders as possible do some cycles on the dock and get familiar with them so that we get some feedback.,” Avery said. “Here’s an opportunity to see more cycles on a dock and deliver more services to the mooring holders.”
The Multiple Vessel System Ad Hoc Committee also agreed that the floating dock pilot program should test the Seaflex Helix system — a mooring system that utilizes anchor fixtures attached to the harbor floor and uses elastic rodes instead of traditional mooring chains, ropes or cables — instead of pilings
Committee members agreed that the docks should range from 40 to 50 feet in length and be 5-foot-wide. Wood and fiberglass docks will be considered.
The next Multiple Vessel System Ad Hoc Committee is scheduled for Monday, April 21 at 4 p.m. at 100 Civic Center Drive. For more information and to see an agenda, visit newportbeachca.gov/index.aspx?page=2339