Future of Newport Harbor’s second public anchorage uncertain

NEWPORT BEACH — An attempt to provide boaters visiting Newport Harbor with a place to drop anchor for a few days might be short-lived as a city commission contemplates whether to materialize plans to offer a second permanent anchorage.

Newport Beach established a temporary public anchorage at the harbor’s Turning Basin from mid-August to mid-October under the direction of City Council. The anchorage’s two-month trial run was created in hopes of giving boaters navigating the Pacific Ocean a reason to visit and stay in Newport Harbor for a few days.

The city’s harbor commissioners voted on Nov. 16 to review all options and determine whether a second public anchorage in Newport Beach can be viable. However, commissioners on the dais were split as to whether the temporary anchorage would serve its purpose and ultimately become permanent.

Concerns stemming from the public anchorage trial earlier this year included usage and spacing. Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller said some waterfront residences observed minimal use of the anchorage. 

Commissioner Brad Avery acknowledged the anchorage was lightly used but no one complained about noise and the trial run worked well overall. 

“This is an inexpensive way for boaters to take advantage of the harbor. I’d like to see another trial in the summer,” Avery said, adding the city could do more to advertise the anchorage.

Miller pointed out the Harbor Resources Department handed our fliers to people who used the anchorage.

Hornblower reportedly expressed concern, according to Miller, about whether the anchorage negatively impacted the ability of its vessels to navigate through the Turning Basin.

Billy Whitford from Newport Aquatic Center told commissioners the anchorage’s design blocked a portion of a racing course and would impact the center’s year-round practices.

Efforts were made prior to the trial run to keep the anchorage away from the shoreline, giving boaters docked at waterfront residences space to maneuver in and out of their respective docks.

Harbor Commission Chair David Girling was skeptical whether the city should add a second permanent public anchorage.

“I’m still not convinced there is a demand. We need to show (demand) to make it permanent,” Girling said. 

Commissioners ultimately approved a motion to have an ad hoc committee review the trial run and return to the commission with either a new recommendation of how to move forward or try another trial run this upcoming summer season. The ad hoc committee includes Avery and Commissioners William Kenney and Duncan McIntosh.

The commission’s council liaison, Council member Marshall Duffield, said the intent of the temporary public anchorage was to take advantage of regattas and a new dinghy dock despite its location in one of busiest portions of the harbor.

“Hopefully we give it another shot,” Duffield said.

A trial run of the second public anchorage was approved by the Newport Beach City Council in July. Transient boaters were allowed to drop anchor at the Turning Basin for up to five days (with an option to extend the stay another five days) during the trial run.

Newport Beach already has one permanent public anchorage in between Lido Isle and Bay Island.

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