Coast Guard shrinks size of Marina del Rey special anchorage

Final rule will be in effect Feb. 9, concluding a nearly 3-year rulemaking process.

MARINA DEL REY — A special anchorage area in Marina del Rey Harbor will be reduced in size and amended in shape, according to a final rule issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The final rule ends a nearly 3-year rulemaking process, which started off as a plan to discontinue the anchorage entirely.

“The Coast Guard is amending the shape and reducing the size of the special anchorage area in Marina del Rey Harbor,” Coast Guard officials stated in its Final Rule document, which was published Jan. 10 on the Federal Register website. “This action is necessary as it will create sufficient navigable water around the anchorage allowing vessels to traffic the Marina del Rey channel without undue maritime safety concerns.”

Boaters will now have access to an anchorage taking up 0.11 square nautical miles – smaller than the previous anchorage, which occupied 0.48 square nautical miles.

“The Coast Guard is changing the shape of the anchorage from a trapezoid to a rectangular shape and reducing the size from 0.48 to 0.11 square nautical miles. The revised anchorage will be moved to the middle of the channel across from Burton Chace Park with its northern boundary line extending from approximately the midpoint of Basin G south to the midpoint of Basin H,” Coast Guard officials stated in its Final Rule document.

“The anchorage dimensions will be 1,154 feet in length by 365 feet in width. The distance from the closest shore-side dock to the anchorage boundary will be approximately 243 feet,” Coast Guard officials continued.

Coast Guard officials established the special anchorage area in the main channel of Marina del Rey Harbor in 1967. A rulemaking proposal was published almost 47 years later to disestablish the anchorage.

“The stated purpose of the [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] was to align the regulations with the main channel and docking facilities in Marina del Rey Harbor,” Coast Guard staff stated in the Final Rule document. “Existing docks located in the northern section of the harbor were built into the pre-existing anchorage area at some point with no record of Coast Guard comment on the construction or its impact on anchorage.”

Public comment on the proposed final rule was accepted through early 2015. In February 2016 the Coast Guard issued an updated rulemaking notice, proposing to maintain the special anchorage area.

A public hearing was scheduled for April 12, 2016. However notice of the meeting was not published until April 20, 2016 – eight days after the public hearing was held. Coast Guard officials, not surprisingly, stated no one attended the hearing. Multiple boaters in the Marina del Rey area informed The Log they were unaware of the public hearing.

The botched notice and public hearing was covered extensively in The Log’s first-ever Standing Watch section.

Federal officials announced in July 2016 they would, in light of the discrepancy between hearing date and public notice, extend the comment period through Aug. 15, 2016.

When the public comment period was finally closed the Coast Guard received 51 written comments and heard from six speakers at public meetings. A majority of the comments urged federal officials to maintain the special anchorage.

“The Coast Guard determined that the existing configuration of the special anchorage area in Marina del Rey poses a safety concern because it occupies the entire channel width at the north end of the harbor,” Coast Guard officials stated in the Final Rule document. “[We] proposed a smaller special anchorage area that allows vessel traffic to pass safely on all sides of the designated anchorage and also amends the note to update authority to the Marina del Rey Harbor Master for prescribing local regulation for mooring and boating activities in the area.”

The Coast Guard’s Final Rule document stated the special anchorage size reduction would have minimal economic impact on the local boating community.

“The Coast Guard expects the economic impact of this proposed rule will not be significant to the maritime and local community. The existing anchorage is currently used only in emergency circumstances and this final rule will not significantly reduce the number of vessels using the anchorage,” Coast Guard officials stated.

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