Newport Beach Harbor Commission backs proposed day-use mooring sub-permit trial

The trial program would allow boaters to pay a pro-rated fee to sub-permit a mooring for up to six hours during daylight hours.

NEWPORT BEACH—The Newport Beach Harbor Commission gave unanimous support to a proposed day-use mooring sub-permit trial program in the harbor. Harbormaster Kurt Borsting presented the idea at the Sept. 9 Harbor Commission meeting.

The six-month trial would test a program allowing for short-term, day-use rental of off-shore moorings, for up to six hours.

Newport Harbor experienced high volumes of recreational boating during spring and summer of 2020 and Borsting said a number of undesired practices were observed by Harbor Department staff. He said this could be a way to curtail the increased boating volume.

Those practices included occasional overcrowded conditions in the harbor’s designated public anchorage; vessels anchored in unauthorized areas of the harbor, including channels and areas intended for active navigation; unauthorized day-use of off-shore moorings; and instances of “harbor drifting”, where vessels were disengaged from sail or motor powered propulsion, and instead were left to intentionally drift within the harbor while those aboard enjoy leisure time on the bay.

“For all these reason and others, this type of program may contribute to a sort of safety valve or pressure relief valve for overcrowded anchorage and give people an authorized option versus dropping anchor in unauthorized areas,” Borsting said at the Sept. 9 meeting.

Bosrting said it could also provide variety for those interested in spending time in various areas within the harbor.

A pro-rated fee, equal to 25 percent of the approved 24-hour mooring use rate or $0.31 per linear foot, would be applied. Borsting said those numbers were based off the City Council-approved daily rates for guest use of off-shore moorings.

All other established procedures associated with mooring sub-permit issuance, such as providing proof of vessel ownership, insurance, and agreeing to be responsible for any damage to mooring equipment, would apply to the proposed day-use program. Borsting said the Harbor Department’s software platform allows them to pre-populate customer information so boaters interested would be able to pre-register to speed up the sub-permitting process on the days boaters decide to use it.

All the Commissioners expressed enthusiastic support of the idea. Some Commissioners also suggested looking into creating a mobile app similar to parking apps that would allow for an even more streamlined process.

“I envision perhaps someday we have a ‘moor mobile app’ or something like that,” said Vice Chair Scott Cunningham.

Some Commissioners also suggested a longer trial period to allow the program to test out interest during the busier summer months.

“I’m not sure if it gives you a representative of the summertime busyness, so we might want to think about something a little longer than six months,” Commissioner Marie Marston said.

Borsting said he would incorporate the suggestions made by the Commissioners. He said he anticipates the program will launch by mid to late October. After the six-month trial period, the Harbor Department will come back with recommendations on whether or not to make it a permanent program.

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