Parimal M. Rohit
NEWPORT BEACH — Newport Beach will test out a second public anchorage for about 10 weeks, giving transient boaters more opportunities to visit the bay for five-day increments.
Newport Beach’s City Council approved a trial run for a second anchorage at its July 14 meeting. The 6-1 vote means transient boaters will have two-and-a-half months to drop anchor in a portion of the harbor most accessible to commercial services.
The proposed temporary anchorage would be located at the Turning Basin and complement a similar transient boat parking lot between Lido Isle and Bay Island. Transient boaters would be able to visit Newport Harbor for up to five days, with a one-time five-day extension available.
Council member Marshall Duffield said adding a second anchorage at the Turning Basin would make Newport Harbor more user-friendly.
“It makes for a great event when you come from another harbor, you can anchor, you get in your boat and enjoy dining on the water,” Duffield said, adding the anchorage will make even more sense for transient boaters once Lido Village is complete.
The city’s two anchorages would be monitored to ensure transient boaters do not alternate between each anchorage after each visitation period expired, Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller said.
Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery urged the council to test out the anchorage and see how it would be received by boaters and residents. The trial run would also experiment with boundaries, capacity and geographic size.
“What we’re asking for is a shot to try it,” Avery told council members. “This is public space. This is a public park on the water. There’s more that can be done to leverage the value of that public park.”
Avery added most of the noise concerns emanate from raft-ups, where boating clubs or organizations visit the harbor and have a gathering aboard a collection of boats roped together.
The proposed anchorage would prohibit raft-ups and only allow single boats to use the parking area, Avery said.
Just the same, Avery added the proposed anchorage would not crowd up the Turning Basin area, as boats actually need space to navigate or swing in and out of the dedicated space.
“The overall thrust of this is to provide more places for boaters to come and anchor. Anchoring is a tradition. All harbors up and down the coast have free public anchorages. We have one of the smallest public anchorages of any city, compared to San Diego or Long Beach and those sorts of places,” Avery said.
A representative of Dart Development, which is working on a project at 3355 and 3388 Via Lido, opposed the temporary anchorage proposal.
“We believe this is not the right area,” the representative, who did not state his name for the record, told council members. “We’re primarily concerned about noise, also about safety. It is a tight turning area.”
The Dart representative added the temporary anchorage would increase boating congestion in the harbor, drain resources and have a negative environmental impact.
Jetpack operations were also another concern. The City Council recently approved Jetpack America to offer its water-propelled vessel service at the Turning Basin and sharing space with the anchorage.
Council member Tony Petros emphasized this temporary anchorage to test out demand and iron out potential problems.
“What we have right now are unfounded concerns that we will either substantiate or be able to, with evidence, refute. That’s the point of a trial,” Petros said. “Once we see the final demand, then we can start to talk about limits or not limiting.”
Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon was the only council member who voted against the temporary anchorage proposal. Dixon wanted the trial’s timeline to be more specific than the 10 weeks proposed by the Harbor Department.
Establishing the temporary anchorage would cost the city about $3,000; the funding would pay for the purchase and deployment of four buoys used to define the boundaries of the anchorage.
Avery told council members the anchorage would be considered a failure if too many residents complain about noise or safety.
“If it doesn’t work, we’ll be hearing from people,” Avery said, adding the experiment with a second anchorage could end within a month if residents and visitors were vocally displeased with the trial run.
However, if the city completes the 10-week trial run, the anchorage will be removed and harbor commissioners report the experiment’s results to council members. The report could determine whether a permanent anchorage would be installed at the Turning Basin.