Newport Beach adopts changes to Harbor Permit Policy

Council Policy H-1, Harbor Permit Policy, provides criteria for staff and the Harbor Commission when making decisions regarding piers and floats within Newport Beach Harbor.

NEWPORT BEACH― In an effort to clarify Newport Beach’s policies for pier and float projects in Newport Beach Harbor, the City Council approved revisions to Council Policy H-1 at their Nov. 5 meeting.

Council Policy H-1 sets those guidelines, specifically how far floats and piers can extend bayward beyond the pierhead line. The policy states: “Consistent with Title 17’s purposes described in Newport Beach Municipal Code Section 17.05.020, the City Council’s general policy is not to approve piers and floats beyond the pierhead line.”

Back in June, the City Council directed the Harbor Commission to review Council Policy H-1 in order to assist staff and the Harbor Commission when considering future applications. A subcommittee was appointed and came back to the Commission with recommended changes at the Oct. 9 Harbor Commission meeting.

According to a staff report, the proposed revisions do not alter the original intent of the policy, but provide clarity for both staff and the Commission as they consider future projects. The proposed revisions were presented to the City Council on Nov. 5.

Those recommendations include:

  • Inserting the word “bayward” whenever referencing an extension “beyond the pierhead line”
  • Adding the phrase “all of the following conditions are met” before the specific conditions
  • Improving formatting and layout of the enumerated conditions
  • Adding the word “navigation” to condition 5(d), which now reads: the pier or float will not negatively impact adjacent property owners, navigation and future harbor dredging
  • Adding the following paragraph for clarity on situations where a pierhead line is irrelevant: “For those piers and floats in the areas where pierhead lines do not exist or in areas not otherwise clearly defined by the criteria within this policy, staff may consider approving those pier and float projects if the reconstruction is like-for-like including any upgrades required to meet current code and building standards, and if the existing pier or float configuration was previously permitted.”

That final paragraph is meant to provide guidelines for locations such as West Newport, where there are no pierhead lines.

“I think this last paragraph helps staff, the Harbor Commission and the City Council when these types of unusual circumstances are brought their way,” Newport Beach Public Works Manager Chris Miller explained at the Nov. 5 meeting.

The general policy of not approving piers and floats beyond the pierhead line remains. The proper procedure for determining whether such exceptions exist also remains the same; holding a public hearing in front of the Harbor Commission.

The City Council approved the recommendations in a 5-0 vote at the Nov. 5 meeting. The changes take effect immediately.

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