Superyachts in Orange County’s waters

Newport Beach Harbor Department staff continues discussion on large vessels and possibly charging a large vessel mooring fee.

NEWPORT BEACH—“You want this place looking like Monte Carlo, don’t you?” stated one commenter at a recent Newport Beach Harbor Commission meeting in early August. This remark was sparked during an agenda item about rents and fees for Marina Park that had turned toward large mooring vessels and the pros and cons of increasing the permit fee.

Flashy vehicles (like Lamborghinis), fine dining and expensive, world-class yachts (like Invictus) have undoubtedly marked Newport Beach as an expensive, luxury destination in Orange County.

With Rolls Royce and Porsche jumping on the bandwagon to build million-dollar vessels (some measuring more than 100 feet), a handful of boat owners will be attracted to the incredible amenities, design and innovation. Others might reject the idea as gaudy, elitist and unnecessary.

Newport Beach Harbor has long hoped to increase the visitations of large vessels measuring 75 feet or larger. However, as a relatively small harbor the conversation on exactly how to fit these large vessels, some measuring up to 200 feet, is still being considered.

Superyacht controversy

In a previous issue, The Log announced the return of Invictus to Newport Beach Harbor.

Carol Jacobs, assistant city manager, told The Log that Newport Beach welcomed the larger vessels. The same kind of answers came from Mayor Marshall Duffield during an interview earlier in the year.

Mike Glenn’s Save Newport announced the arrival of Invictus in a blog post dating back to Aug. 1, 2016. Glenn stated: “This special permit for Invictus is contentious with Lido Isle residents. Some like the boat and would like to see her more often. Others are upset that it blocks the view which they paid a premium for, and they are concerned that it will lead to other large view-blocking yachts to join in. Yachts of this size are also known for their parties, which Lido Island is especially sensitive to.”

Four of the five comments left on the post were in favor of megayachts like Invictus coming into Newport Harbor for a visit. Many residents of Newport Beach seem captivated by superyachts and seem to enjoy the luxury vessels visiting their waters, which is in line with a city vision of welcoming more like Invictus.

To fee or not to fee?

The topic of increasing large vessel mooring fees has long been a subject for Newport Beach city staff, but there is also the conflict of inflating the fees too high.

A presentation was given by city staff with proposed rent and fees for Marina Park and Harbor, which led the discussion to largely focus around megayachts. Data was taken from marinas located mostly on the Central California coastline.

After conducting research, staff recommended proposing a permit for large vessels (80 feet or larger) for $64. Most commissioners seemed opposed to the notion, citing that this could deter large vessel owners from docking.

Newport Beach Harbor Commission member Paul Blank stated he hoped to keep a “visitor friendly harbor.”

Comissioner Ira Beer pointed out during the presentation that Teller Point, a location near Monterey, only allowed 45-foot vessels to moor, so he did not think this location was accurate to appraise the mooring fees for larger vessels.

For the last few years, this topic has been highly debated. Expect the topic to continue moving forward as fees are still being fleshed out.

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