City Council will allow wind- and human-powered vessels to exceed speed limit when racing in the harbor.
NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Beach City Council, in a move seemingly common sense to sailors, unanimously voted to amend Municipal Code Title 17 to include exceptions to the speed limit of 5 nautical miles per hour during sailing races, Oct. 9
A staff report following the meeting on behalf of new City Manager Grace Leung read: “Following City Council direction in May 2018, we are bringing forward an amendment to Title 17 to allow for exceptions to the harbor speed limit within City tidelands. The exception is to allow human-powered craft or wind-powered vessels to travel at speeds above five nautical miles per hour over City tidelands under certain conditions such as races and practices via a City issued permit.”
Council member Brad Avery, who is the Director for the Orange Coast College School of Sailing & Seamanship, remarked: “Special consideration [should be taken’ for events that make Newport special.”
Avery also added, “It is every operator’s responsibility to drive at a safe speed,” and that most races will not see the speed limit exceeding much more than three nautical miles.
This speed limit exception, it was stated in a staff report from May 2018, does not give vessel operators permission for reckless behavior. Feedback from the community had been favorable to permitting speeding during regattas, the staff report continued.
The redline document amending Title 17 appeared to have been heavily dissected, but Avery mentioned language would continue to be vetted.
Approval at a state level for the speed limit exception would be needed, according to previous discussion. Newport Beach would need consent from OC Parks and Recreations Department and Department of Boating and Waterways in order for this decision/exception to be approved. No response had been given, at the time of the meeting on Oct. 9, from these agencies. However, Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs clarified the agencies have 30 days to issue a decision.
The new rules, unless otherwise noted, are set to be incorporated by the end of 2018.