California Coastal Commission will review request to reduce number of slips available to public and set hours for access.
NEWPORT BEACH—Orange County has formally filed an amendment application for public access and recreational boating amenities at a set of docks in Newport Beach Harbor. The application is the latest in the developments The Log has been following at the public docks at the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol headquarters in Corona del Mar.
County staff, in a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) amendment application filed with the California Coastal Commission on Aug. 5, is specifically requesting placement of “Keep Out” and “Authorized Personnel Only” on four slips, to be reserved for lifeguard boats. Five other slips at the docks would continue to be available to the public as guest slips.
There are “Keep Out” and “Authorized Personnel Only” signs at the entrance of the public guest docks and five guest dock pilings facing Newport Beach Harbor. Those five docks would feature a new sign, if approved by the Coastal Commission: “Public Guest Docks: Please see OC Harbor Patrol for rental information.”
Harbor Patrol and county staffs are also proposing a 15-hour window for tie-ups, each day. The proposed hours for boat tie-ups at the public docks are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week.
Other proposed changes in Orange County’s CDP amendment application include:
- Use of “Visitor Dock” would be changed to “Emergency Dock”
- Provide canoe storage, racks and closet at Bayside Beach
- Relocate 10 public beach parking spaces and add one more space.
The CDP amendment application was filed in response to a Coastal Commission site visit and letter to Lt. Christopher Corn in May. The letter and site visit yielded six areas of non-compliance:
- Two public guest docks were being used for lifeguard boat storage
- “Keep Out” and “Authorized Personnel Only” signs were placed at the entrance to the public guest docks and dock pilings facing Newport Beach Harbor
- Access to public dinghy tie-up was reduced from 72 hours to 20 minutes
- Use of the visitor dock was changed to “Emergency Dock”
- Public beach parking spots were relocated away from a commission-approved location, and
- The county did not provide a commission-approved beach drop off point.
County staff stated the signage plan and other updates/actions were necessary to maintain a site accommodating “critical public safety and security operations, as well as providing access to the public for recreation.”
Implementing the proposed changes would cost $50,000, according to the county’s CDP amendment application.
The Log has been tracking this story since May, consistently asking whether Corn and the Sheriff’s Department had the authority to reduce the public dinghy tie-up time limit from 72 hours to 20 minutes, among other things.
A group of people attended the California Coastal Commission September meetings in Newport Beach and spoke out about the public docks issue. The comments were presented during public comment on Sept. 11, as the public docks matter was not on the September meetings agenda.
Please see this issue’s Standing Watch for more coverage of what’s been happening at Newport Beach’s public docks.