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Locals Offer Input on Newport Anchorage Plan

posted: 4/24/2013
NEWPORT BEACH -- Local homeowners and boaters appear to be in disagreement over whether the city should operate a temporary seasonal anchorage in Newport Harbor. Both provided their opinions on the matter at an April 10 Newport Beach Harbor Commission meeting.            

A plan to offer both local and visiting boaters a second site to drop anchor has been in discussion since 2004, but the idea gained momentum when the harbor’s sole anchorage was relocated during the recent extensive Lower Bay dredging project. Last year, the Harbor Commission began to study the feasibility of creating a temporary anchorage.            

The field that sits east of Lido Isle and east of Bay Island was temporarily relocated to the west of the Lido Isle Bridge -- just inside the turning basin -- to make way for dredges navigating the harbor last year.            

Although several boaters said they appreciated the alternative mooring option, many nearby residents did not echo those sentiments. Several locals complained about noise coming from the anchorage.            

“I am firmly against the temporary anchorage,” said Pam Whiteside, who lives on Via Lido. “It would put a ‘party town’ right outside our homes.”            

Whiteside complained of amplified noise coming from vessels using the free anchorage. Many raft-ups have as many as 17 boats tied together, she said.            

“I have to live with my windows shut,” she said. “It really wrecked our summer.”            

Another speaker said the area is too small to accommodate its planned 12 vessels ranging from 30 to 40 feet in length, from June-August. Users would be required to abide by the city’s anchorage ordinances that allow a stay of up to five nights.            

Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery, who sits on the anchorage subcommittee, conveyed his understanding of the noise issue, stating that the city already has a noise ordinance in place that prohibits amplified music in the bay. Permits are also required for raft-ups.            

“That is something we should be able to control,” he said. “If we end up with an (additional) anchorage or keep the existing (one), we should do a better job defending the quality of life for our residents.”            

Seymour Beek, a former harbor commissioner and a proponent of the temporary anchorage, asked the commission to advance the plan -- and he proposed another idea. Beek, a dinghy sailor, explained that there are prevailing winds out of the southwest, leaving only one optimal site in the harbor to set up a good race course: at the east end of Lido Isle, right through the site of the current anchorage.            

“I would really like to see not only establishing the anchorage at the other end of Lido Isle, but looking at the idea of phasing out the anchorage at the east end of Lido Isle -- or at least using it as an overflow anchorage, to minimize the number of boats there and improve the quality of sailboat racing in the harbor,” Beek said.            

Resident Walter Havekort supported Beek’s idea for both anchorages. He said, “To get the public to use the harbor, which is one of the best in the country, it is very important for the community. I would like to see both become permanent.”              

Harbor Commission members Brad Avery, Duncan McIntosh and Doug West will continue to examine the feasibility of the temporary anchorage. The subcommittee will continue to speak with residents, Newport Beach Harbor Patrol officers and charter boat captains to assess concerns and reviews of how the anchorage worked during recent dredging.            

Other considerations include identifying shoreside facilities and a nearby dock for those using the anchorage. Commissioners said they welcome input from the public on the topic.            

In other action, Avery recommended the Harbor Commission look at providing language in the new marina leases that would require marinas to provide slip renters with adequate shore power for their vessels. That requirement is designed to eliminate the need for boaters to run auxiliary generators for hours on end, and it would result in a reduction in the noise and air pollution emitted by the generators.            

“I think it is very reasonable to include language in marina leases that they will provide power for all these vessels,” Avery said. “We all know that charter boats have grown in size and require more power. Marinas simply don’t have the power to accommodate these boats.”            

McIntosh added that generators smoke and make noise, which is unacceptable for patrons of nearby restaurants.            

The shore power issue will be discussed at the Harbor Commission’s May 8 meeting.

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