Newport Beach Harbor Commission recommends public anchorage

NEWPORT BEACH — Newport Beach will test out a temporary anchorage in the bay in an effort of becoming a more welcoming harbor to visiting boaters.

Harbor commissioners voted June 8 to try out a temporary anchorage in Newport Harbor’s Turning Basin to complement an already existing anchorage on the east side of Lido Isle; the vote was 5-2 in favor of experimenting with a second anchorage between early July and late September.

According to the city’s Harbor Resources department, the current anchorage is usually full and a second location could offer visiting boaters another option to drop anchor in Newport Harbor. The location of the proposed temporary anchorage would overlap with the operational area of the harbor’s sole jetpack company, which was recently approved by the City Council.

“The anchorage should not be seen as exclusive to those who anchor there. It is open water for everybody,” Harbor Commission Chair Brad Avery said.

Chris Miller, Newport Beach’s Harbor Resources manager, said the idea is to see how the temporary anchorage would augment the existing visiting boat location east of Lido Isle. Commissioners and city staff would also like to see how the temporary anchorage would impact other harbor uses.

Commissioners David Girling and Joe Stapleton voted against the temporary anchorage proposal.

“Now is not the time to do this,” Girling said, adding a second anchorage is not a necessity but instead a luxury.

Stapleton thought the decision to experiment with a temporary anchorage in the Turning Basin coinciding with jetpack operations being moved to the same area was not a smart move. He was also concerned the temporary anchorage could become a party scene due to its close proximity to Newport Beach’s nightlife destinations.

Conversely, Commissioner Doug West worried Newport Beach was perceived as not being welcoming to visiting boaters and the current anchorage was not convenient to the city’s amenities. Green lighting a temporary anchorage at the Turning Basin, especially if it were closer to restaurants and other businesses, could change the perception, West said.

The commission weighed three anchorage proposals. Miller recommended the temporary anchorage be roughly the same size (about 5 acres) as the current anchorage, while Commissioner William Kinney proposed the visiting boat area cover more than 11 acres. The third proposal, suggested by Avery, measured about 9 acres.

Commissioners ultimately supported Miller’s suggestion but kept the door open to expand the anchorage’s size before the trial period ends in September.

Several commissioners also acknowledged noise emanating from the temporary anchorage was a concern. A few residents echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s not fair the residents … have to put up with this,” said Judy Cole, who lives on the harbor and near the Turning Basin.

Another resident said while seeing a boat sail or motor up and down the harbor could make for a good visual, seeing a “farm of boats” outside one’s window is not a pleasant view.

The temporary anchorage could be operational by the Fourth of July and remain in place until Sept. 30. No raft-ups will be allowed in the temporary anchorage that will stand at least 200 feet away from all residential piers.

Depending on how the experiment plays out during the summer months, the city could either begin the review process for a permanent anchorage or abandon the idea altogether. A permanent anchorage would require City Council approval.

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