'Superyachts' visiting Newport Beach might face higher fees

Newport Beach is trying to determine proper anchorage fee structure for visiting superyachts in Newport Harbor.

The city’s Harbor Commission also has been studying a fair price for temporary moorings of extra-large vessels but will wait until a draft appraisal has been submitted before sharing its suggestions.

Superyachts have been the subject of some debate in the city over the years.

Costa Mesa-based Netzer and Associates, which has worked with the city in the past, is completing the appraisal at a cost of $6,500. A final draft should be ready in January or February, said Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs.

Currently, harbor staff charges visiting yachts the annual mooring permit fee prorated on a daily basis.

Commission Chairman Bill Kenney said the professional appraisal probably will be more comprehensive and reliable and suggest a higher rate than the commission’s research.

The current fee for a typical annual permit is $35.43 per foot. For a vessel like the 216-foot superyacht Invictus, which stayed in Newport Harbor off and on for about two controversial months in 2013, that would mean a mooring fee of about $21 a day, according to Harbor Commissioner Dave Girling. Commissioners have said that could be considered nominal compared with other public harbors and commercial marinas.

Kenney said commissioners tasked with suggesting new fees put together other rules that wouldn’t be in an appraisal, including defining a large vessel as at least 100 feet long and requiring a permit to temporarily moor with anchors at the bow and stern in an area in the west anchorage for oversize vessels. The fee would be based on how long the mooring tackle is in the harbor, not the boat itself.

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