Coastal Commission postpones marina redevelopment application

Palmo Investments seeks to update Newport Beach marina with three fewer slips but larger dock system.

SANTA CRUZ—Finally, news of a postponement that has nothing to do with COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus): The California Coastal Commission, which met March 11-13 in Santa Cruz, will consider a marina redevelopment project in Newport Beach at a later date. It’s unclear why the item was postponed.

Complicating matters: the commission canceled its April meetings – this decision was because of COVID-19 – so it’s unclear when the marina redevelopment would be back on the docket.

Commissioners were originally set to consider the marina redevelopment application, which was submitted by Palmo Investments, on March 12. Palmo Investments is proposing to redevelop the existing marina at 2888 Bay Shores Drive in Newport Beach. The redevelopment proposal calls for the demolition of the existing marina and building of a new marina.

The new marina would have 50 slips – three fewer than the marina to be demolished – and new docks, piles and utilities. A new pier platform and gangway would also be built as part of the new marina, if plans are ultimately approved.

“The existing dock system on this site consists of 12,787 square feet and the proposed dock system consists of 13,866 square feet,” Coastal Commission staff said in a report to commissioners. “The proposed dock system would result in an increase of 1,079 square feet of increased water coverage.

“In addition, the proposed project would result in approximately 999 square feet of eelgrass shading,” Coastal Commission staff continued. “The increased water coverage in this area would likely impact the biological productivity of the area, such as reducing or eliminating photosynthesis in the covered water areas, impacting the growth of eelgrass, and reducing water area for the avian foraging opportunities.”

The Palmo Investments proposal also calls for the south end of the new marina to have a “harbor camel.” The harbor camel, according to Coastal Commission staff, “would allow tenants to safely navigate to the backside of the marina and also eliminate potential property damage to the backside of the marina and also eliminate potential property damage and personal injury to the adjacent property and property owner located at 2782 Bayshore Drive.”

There does appear to be some contention between Coastal Commission staff and the applicant, particularly over design.

Coastal Commission staff specifically requested the applicant provide a plan to reduce the proposed project’s adverse impacts.

“The applicant is intent with going forth with the proposed design,” Coastal Commission staff said in a report to commissioners. “The applicant has proposed an eelgrass mitigation plan in order to mitigate the adverse impacts to eelgrass, but even with this plan, the proposed project is not the least environmentally feasible alternative.”

Another alternative, called the 2018 Plan, could be implemented, according to Coastal Commission staff.

“The ‘2018 Plan’ … would reduce additional water coverage to 157 square feet, reduce additional eelgrass impacts to 57 square feet and eliminate the need for the harbor camel,” Coastal Commission staff said. “The 2018 Plan would be the least environmentally damaging alternative that satisfied project goals to provide recreational boat docks in the same general footprint and complied with Newport Beach Harbor Design Guidelines.”

Palmo Investments told Coastal Commission staff the marina currently in place at 2888 Bay Shores Drive was built in 1970 and reached the end of its useful life.

The 53 slips currently in place include 18 for 48-foot boats, 11 for 30-footers, 10 for 42-footers, 10 for 22-footers, and one each for 24-, 38-, 40- and 50-foot boats.

Palmo Investments proposes a new slip mix of 14 26-footers, 12 42-footers, nine 40-footers, eight 22-footers, five 52-footers, and one each for 32- and 54-footers.

Slips for 24-, 30-, 38-, 48-, and 50-foot boats would be eliminated if the new 50-slip proposal goes forward.

The proposed floating harbor camel would measure 75 feet in length.

Construction would take four months to complete, according to Palmo Investments.

“The marina parking lot will be used for staging and equipment storage,” Coastal Commission staff stated.

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