Duffield pleads for protection of Newport Beach Harbor

Inventor of the Duffy boat and City Council member pens an op-ed, stating the harbor is “one of the most regulated bodies of water in the nation.”

NEWPORT BEACH—Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, the Newport Beach City Council member known for creating those nifty electric boats darting around Southern California’s harbors, penned an op-ed calling for greater local control of Central Orange County’s lone boating destination.

Newport Beach Harbor is “one of the most regulated bodies of water in the nation,” according to Duffield’s op-ed, which appeared in the online outlet, Stu News Newport, on May 21. His comments come at a time when the Newport Beach City Council is planning to re-write Title 17 of the City Charter; the title governs Newport Beach’s harbor.

Duffield specifically stated the Newport Beach City Code must be updated in order to protect the harbor from outside interests – primarily developers and policymakers in Sacramento or Santa Ana.

“It’s time our City Charter protects Newport Harbor,” Duffield wrote in his op-ed. “Our residents are unaware that at least eleven governmental agencies from Washington, Sacramento and Santa Ana have jurisdictional control over the Harbor.”

The City Council member who served as Newport Beach’s mayor in 2018 stated the city’s Charter must recognize and give deference to the local Harbor Commission, which actually could be eliminated at the discretion of Duffield’s colleagues.

Duffield and City Council member Brad Avery both served on the Newport Beach Harbor Commission before being elected as councilors.

“For decades the city has been marginally successful juggling the multi-jurisdictional regulatory maze. Key to our success is the Harbor Commission,” Duffield wrote in his op-ed. “The commission is an advisory committee of residents with expertise in harbor and marine issues. Members are appointed by the City Council and are invaluable to the City Council’s policymaking role.”

The Duffy boat inventor said he would urge his colleagues to amend the City Charter to include Newport Beach’s Harbor Commission and Harbor Department.

“If my colleagues agree, the public will have an opportunity to decide our harbor’s future and protect it from future politicians that do not make the harbor a priority,” Duffield wrote in his op-ed, adding the City Council often relies on the commission’s recommendations to craft harbor-themed policies.

Duffield added the harbor is more than a playground for the rich, but also a valuable asset to Newport Beach and Orange County.

“The Harbor is far more than a playground for wealthy yacht owners. For a hundred years the Harbor is where our children learned to swim, sail and enjoy the unique lifestyle that makes Newport special,” Duffield’s op-ed continued. “Newport Harbor is the cultural, recreational and economic engine of our community. A 2018 analysis by Beacon Economics shows Newport Harbor generates $392 million in direct economic activity and $1 billion in indirect economic activity across the nation.”

He also explained the Newport Beach City Council tried to abolish the Harbor Commission in 2012.

“The Harbor Commission can be abolished by any future city council because it is not memorialized in our city charter,” Duffield wrote. “In 2012 a previous council attempted to abolish the commission and replace it with a tidelands subcommittee of City Council members with the goal of raising residential dock taxes and commercial marina fees.”

An update on Duffield’s proposed City Charter amendment, which was heard on May 28, will be reported on and analyzed in the next issue of The Log.

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