Trial anchorage could return to Newport Harbor for another run

City continues to address abandoned vessels; Harbor Commission has two vacancies.

NEWPORT BEACH ― Boaters planning to visit Newport Beach this summer may have a trial anchorage available to them yet again. Meanwhile city officials acknowledge Newport Beach is making progress in removing abandoned or derelict vessels from the local harbor. Both issues were on the agenda at recent City Council and Harbor Commission meetings.

Looking ahead, the seven-member Newport Beach Harbor Commission hopes to fill its two vacancies within the next few weeks.

Anchorage Trial

Newport Beach’s Harbor Commission recommended a temporary anchorage be established once more at the Turning Basin for the third year in a row.

The trial anchorage, which still requires City Council approval, could be activated by Memorial Day weekend.

“There [are] some appetite for moorings in that area and some clever thoughts on how they might be maintained and administered,” Harbor Commission Chair Paul Blank said. “The subcommittee will do a bit more research on costs and the best way to administer the use of those potential moorings and then come back with recommendations.”

A subcommittee of the Harbor Commission did ask the commissioners to go to the City Council with the recommendation of establishing the temporary anchorage at the West Turning Basin near Lido Marina Village again this summer, according to Blank.

“The recommendation is that the anchorage be established by May 26 and removed on or after September 17. That recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council (probably on consent calendar) for approval and funding,” Blank stated. “If council looks at/approves it at one of their next four meetings, there should be no issue at getting the markers in place by May 26.”

If this third year trial is successful, then the commission plans to go back to council with a recommendation that this be made a permanent feature of Newport Harbor as a seasonal anchorage, as opposed to approving it on a trial basis every year, according to Harbor Commission member Doug West.

The anchorage’s previous trial runs were successful, both West and Blank told The Log, and the city did not receive any complaints during last summer’s trial run.

“We’ve had no complaints as a result of the most recent trial and in fact, one of the homeowners who had been perpetually against the anchorage sent a message of appreciation for the way Invictus is now handled (oriented) when she is in port,” Blank affirmed.

Abandoned and Derelict Vessels

City officials and commissioners are also working to address the harbor’s aging boat population. Harbor Resource Manager Chris Miller reported the city’s derelict vessel abatement program, which identifies and removes abandoned and unkempt boats from the harbor, as successful during a Feb. 28 study session with the City Council.

Miller reported about 30 derelict vessels has been removed within the past two years, thanks to a $125,000 grant secured by the city.

The state’s Division of Boating and Waterways awards grants to help public agencies remove abandoned or derelict vessels from harbors, marinas or ports.

Removing a vessel from a waterway could cost $2,500 to $8,000, as mentioned during the Harbor Commission’s Newport Harbor tour on Dec. 10, 2016.

From the state subsidy, assistance can be offered to those with boats in need of attention.

There have been boats of all sizes removed from the harbor and the process is not always easy, according to Miller.

“Identifying a derelict boat can be a challenge. One person’s idea of a derelict boat is another person’s dream to rebuild,” Miller pointed out to the council. “It’s a challenging process because we do have to make contact with [the boat owners], give them time to try and fix it. When that fails then you [have to] go through the process. Sometimes people are willing…and want to give us the vessel. Other times it is a little bit more of a challenge to convince them.”

This program is still needed as it is an ongoing issue, but all the funds from the grant have been depleted, Miller reported to the City Council.

The grant money ran out because it was used wisely, according to West.

“The previous grant was both fully consumed and expired late last year. Harbor Resources is looking into applying for new grant funding in June. We expect the application to be approved based on the success of the previous program,” Blank stated. “Someone wishing to remove a derelict vessel from the harbor currently would have to do so at their own expense. We expect the Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP) which can help defray the costs of removal to be active again in the fall.”

Securing another grant will help those wanting to get rid of their boat by being able to ask for assistance.

“We will pursue another grant for more funding. The application period is open now till early April. Staff is working on it,” Miller confirmed. “The award period takes a while, so I can’t predict when we’ll hear back from the state.”

To keep the harbor safe and welcoming, the commission and city council of Newport Beach support the Harbor Patrol’s efforts to identify and remove derelict boats from the harbor.

Harbor Commission Vacancies

The Harbor Commission has been busy with these as well as many other initiatives despite having two vacancies on the dais.

Brad Avery’s seat is still empty after he was elected to City Council in November 2016. Joe Stapleton vacated his seat on the commission after being appointed to the city’s Finance Committee.

“With Joe Stapleton’s departure it left the vice chair position open which we filled with Commissioner William Kenney last week,” Blank said. “With Commissioner Kenney moving into the vice chair seat we will select a new secretary at our April meeting.

“I understand the City Council will be reviewing and interviewing candidates to fill those two seats the week of March 20,” Blank continued. “I also understand there are 14 applicants. It’s possible (and would be ideal if) the appointments could be made at the March 28 or April 11 council meeting in which case the new Commissioners would sit with us when the Harbor Commission next meets on April 12.”

City of Newport Beach photo

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