Newport Beach staff propose changes to several Harbor Department service fees

Recommended changes include a flat fee for harbor appeals and five new fees, including a large boat escort fee.

NEWPORT BEACH—Newport Beach staff has proposed several changes to the fees charged by the Harbor Department for various services. Staff gave a presentation on the proposed changes to the Harbor Commission at its Jan. 13 meeting. The fees were recently studied as part of regular efforts to ensure the proper recovery for cost of service, according to a staff report. Staff recommended increasing 17 fees, decreasing three fees, and introducing five new fees.

The changes recommended by staff included making the harbor appeal fee a flat fee, which would in most cases decrease the cost. Appellants would be charged $1,250 for any appeal of a decision to the Harbor Commission and another flat appeal fee of $940 for a decision to the City Council. Staff also recommended not charging an appellant if they are successful in their appeal.

Other proposed modifications included changing the Raft Up Permit fee to the same as Harbor Special Events – Simple fee in order expand permit approvals to include events such as boat races. That fee would be $95.

In response to the recent changes to title 17 dealing with Marine Activities Permits (MAP), which now includes four different application options, staff recommended splitting the MAP – Initial fee into two categories based on the amount of staff time needed to review those permits. One fee would be charged for the review of service provider applicants such as boat cleaners, fuel delivery, maintenance and repair and another fee would be charged for the review of charter, boat rentals, and human-powered rental applicants.

Staff also recommended adding five new fees:

  1. Environmental Response fee: a fee would be charged when a boater experiences mechanical or vessel system failure that results in hazardous materials being introduced into the harbor, necessitating staff to contain the hazardous material and a contractor to clean it.
  2. Harbor Special Events – Complex fee: $491 would be charged for large scale harbor events requiring assignment of Harbor Department resources during the planning and execution of the activity.
  3. Large Boat Permit (80+ LF), Requiring Interagency Coordination fee: $736 would be applied when a large motor yacht or vessel requests temporary mooring permits within the harbor, where coordination with the owners’ representatives, the United States Coast Guard, and/or third-party service providers is required.
  4. Large Boat Escort (per escort) fee: a flat fee of $102 would be charged when Harbor Department vessels are required to provide escort services to large vessels entering or departing the Harbor.
  5. Multiple Vessel Mooring System Application fee: a flat fee of $503 would be charged applied to permittees requesting consideration for the installation of approved float systems on a permitted off-shore mooring.

According to a staff report, the reasons for these fees increasing were the costs in general changed over time, the staff performing the service changed, and/or the amount of time to perform the service changed.

Decreased fees would include key card replacement, which would decrease from $23 to $12, and a lost/broken line, which would decrease from $104 to $60.

The Harbor Commission asked a few questions before filing the report. Staff said they hope to bring these recommended updates to the service fees before the finance committee in February and then City Council. The fees will need to the approval of City Council to be applied. If approved, the changes would take effect July 1, 2021.

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