The city’s Harbor Commission recommends new timing patterns for docking at 19th Street Dock. A similar procedure should have been followed on the other side of the harbor.
NEWPORT BEACH—It’s been a while since we’ve run a Standing Watch column. The last two columns in this section focused on the return of Sea Magazine and getting through the COVID-19 quarantine period with a positive mindset. A take action column has become relevant at this time – not so much to “beat a dead horse” but to ensure our local, regional and state agencies are aware we’re watching their actions, ensuring public officials are following the right protocols.
Recent action by the Newport Beach Harbor Commission have metaphorically re-opened old wounds – and the advisory board certainly didn’t have intentions of its recommendation resulting in this take action column being written (especially in a time when we’re all just trying to get through the worst global pandemic of our lifetimes).
Members of the Newport Beach Harbor Commission recently recommended a series of time changes for a public dock at 19th Street, which is located on Balboa Peninsula. The Log’s Lindsey Glasgow reported on the recommended time changes in our April 3-16 issue. The recommendations were made with no fanfare and are the type of item we’d report on when timely, then move forward to the next story.
So why are the time change recommendations at Newport Beach’s 19th Street Public Dock the main topic of discussion in our recurring Standing Watch column?
Answer: Lt. Christopher Corn.
Okay, before moving on with the point of this take action column, let’s make clear what this editorial isn’t: a personal attack on public officials or a random rehashing of a dated story. Public officials should always be held accountable for his or her actions, even if the sands of time attached to said actions are rapidly disappearing into oblivion.
The point being raised here is this: The Harbor Commission’s recommendation demonstrated a tale of two actions taken by two public agencies on a singular issue.
Corn, for those who need a refresher, reduced the time available for use at a public dock in Corona Del Mar from 72 hours to 20 minutes. The Sheriff Lieutenant did not act with the backing of a Harbor Commission recommendation or vote by either the Newport Beach City Council or Orange County Board of Supervisors.
This was the point The Log doggedly tried to make during a series of articles and editorials on this issue in 2019: was Corn authorized to single-handedly change the time restrictions on public dock uses in Newport Beach Harbor?
Orange County officials tried to be of assistance here, pointing to a broad provision in the county code granting the Sheriff’s Department and OC Parks authority to enforce laws in a manner to avoid congestion at the public docks. Clarity, however, was not provided as to whether Corn, himself, could unilaterally change the public’s use of Newport Beach Harbor’s docks from 72 hours to 20 minutes (or any other time limit).
Fast forward to March 2020 – an advisory board advances a set of recommendations on time restrictions on public dock uses in Newport Beach Harbor.
The public docks are different, to be sure. One could even argue the docks in Corona Del Mar are under county jurisdiction, while Newport Beach manages the boating venue at Balboa Peninsula. Poe-Tay-Toe, Poe-Tah-Toe. The question of administrative function remains the same: was the Harbor Commission’s action last month proof Corn was unauthorized to alter the time restrictions at the public docks adjacent to the Sheriff’s Department station in Corona Del Mar?
The takeaway here is this: we should both be informed of the public process and hold our public officials to the highest standards possible, when governing or executing said public process.
Orange County has been relatively mum on this issue and Corn will continue to maintain the matter was resolved. But what we have here is a situation where the time available for using a public dock in Newport Beach was managed one way in Corona Del Mar and in an entirely different way in Balboa Peninsula. Both ways cannot co-exist.
What the Newport Beach Harbor Commission did last month is consistent with what should be: any changes to the use of public docks should be ultimately be made by a city council or board of supervisors (with input from the relevant advisory boards, such as a harbor commission).