Presentation at Newport Beach Harbor Commission imagines lighthouse at the harbor’s entrance

Keith Yonkers sees opportunity to create “a landmark truly at the harbor entrance,” estimating $350,000 if project moves forward.

NEWPORT BEACH—It’s no secret that Newport Beach city officials and agencies have been aiming to make the town on the central Orange County coast a premier boating destination, both nationally and globally. Newport Beach’s efforts to create a more boater-centric atmosphere resulted in the creation of a municipal harbor department (with an emphasis on customer service), for example. At one point, city officials even put the wheels in motion to be declared a port – an idea the California Coastal Commission quickly shut down.

Newport Beach has also focused on construction and revitalization projects centered on the sailing community. One of the latest endeavors on this front: a new lighthouse project.

In the agenda released for the Jan. 9 Newport Beach Harbor Commission meeting, it read: “There is currently a navigational aid on the west end of the Newport Jetty to aid boaters as they enter in Newport Harbor. The current structure is functional, however may not be considered as welcoming as it could be to boaters. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is contemplating a replacement program and there may be an opportunity to enhance the look of the navigational aid.”

Keith Yonkers presented a plan to commissioners, who were decidedly wooed by the idea and vote 6-0 in favor of continuing discussions on the concept. The project was estimated by Yonkers to cost in the ballpark of $350,000.

While the navigational aid serves safety purposes, mainly helping boaters to weather overcast, foggy or dark conditions, Yonkers felt the current pole to be lacking and beautifying the structure “will be a landmark truly at the harbor entrance.”

Though many boats now use GPS chart plotters, there are some smaller boats and vessels that may not be able to use these electronics, according to Yonkers’ presentation. He argued a permanent structure would be easily identified and will benefit a wide spectrum of the boating community.

Basic lighthouse designs were depicted in the presentation, which states, “There are thousands of Navigational Aids throughout the U.S. and much can be learned from the various designs.

“To attain the best result for our harbor, a collaborative effort considering the benefits of new technology and tradition in design within our natural environment, Coast guard and public input will be critical and the key to successful outcome … A basic, durable and vandalism proof structure with [will] serve our community best,” Yonkers’ presentation continued.

Yonkers also suggested a stone/granite structure similar to the height of the current aid, which stands at 36 feet and beckons vessels with a green light.

The USCG is already anticipating replacing the markers in the near future. A major next step would be contacting USCG to see if this project would be approved on a larger level, but the concept will likely move forward to review by city council.

Would boaters in the community like to see such a structure? In the future, if the lighthouse project receives gumption, there will be an opportunity for public feedback through city meetings, yacht clubs, community centers, and other associations.

The presentation by Yonkers can be downloaded at newportbeach.legistar.com.

Questions can be forwarded to Harbormaster Kurt Borsting at kborsting@newportbeachca.gov or to Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs at cjacobs@newportbeachca.gov.

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