Newport Beach Harbor Commission decides against mooring application fee

The fee, which would have amounted to $17, was nixed due to being unwelcoming towards local/transient boaters.

NEWPORT BEACH—Southern California boaters spend a hefty sum to rent moorings and slips, so it’s no surprise that some Newport Beach boaters, including members of the City Council and Harbor Commission, were not keen of the idea of adding an application fee for moorings.  At a harbor commission meeting on Feb. 13, commissioners deliberated on a suggestion from city council on whether the fee was reasonable.

Commissioners voted unanimously to remove the application fee, amounting to $17, for boaters, citing it was unwelcoming.

During the Harbor Commission meeting, commissioners mentioned this fee was not administered in any other marina in Southern California, something City Council member Brad Avery also mentioned during the most recent City Council meeting.

“I do quite a bit of traveling on my boat. I’ve never paid a sign-up fee,” Avery, a former Harbor Commission member, said during the Jan. 22 City Council meeting. “Avalon doesn’t do that, Santa Barbara, they don’t do that. I’m just thinking in terms of the customer.”

The City Council approved updated fees for harbor users but balked at the $17 application fee during the Jan. 22 meeting; council members sent the application fee issue back to the Harbor Commission for reconsideration.

An article penned by The Log’s Parimal M. Rohit discusses the new rental rates that apply to moorings, Marina Park and Balboa Yacht Basin.

One of the major aims in Newport Beach, which the council and harbor commission have began to tackle, is how to make the harbor more customer friendly. With the incorporation of a harbor department last year, which included the permanent hiring of Harbormaster Kurt Borsting, Newport Beach is attempting to position itself as one of the premier destinations in California for transient boaters.

Commissioner Paul Blank stated at the meeting he felt the fee was not customer friendly and could possibly discourage visiting boaters from coming to Newport Beach Harbor. In an effort to clarify whether Blank was suggesting the fee should apply to locals, Commissioner William Kenney questioned him on this matter.

Blank said, “My preference would be to make this [the fee] go away for everyone.”

At least one boater commented in a story previously written by The Log on increasing revenue for the city.

Recreational boating is one of the biggest moneymakers in the nation, with American boaters spending $41 billion on boats, marine products and services to facilitate this hobby in 2018. However, youth sailing programs have been in decline possibly due to the rising costs of being involved with the sailing sport. Though $17 may not seem like a large price to pay in comparison with the costs of owning a boat, slips and moorings typically do go through periodic increases at harbor and marinas like at Newport Beach. Any other fee or application rate could potentially drive away business over time for boaters that do not have the means to afford it.

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