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Newport Harbor speed limit comes back to council

DPT.WATER.060905.MCD Participants in the Ale Series of the the Beercan Regattas manuever their boats
Participants in the “ale series” of a Beer Can regatta maneuver their boats into position as they await the starting of the race in Newport Harbor. Races like this could soon officially be exempt from the 5-knot harbor speed limit.
(File Photo)

The Newport Beach City Council is set to move forward on changing the Newport Harbor speed limit for racing sailors.

After not receiving any comments on the proposal from the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, the council will decide Tuesday whether to direct staff to implement the change, which will allow human- and wind-powered crafts to exceed the usual 5-knot harbor speed limit during races and practices.

Newport sent a letter to the division, which state law requires the city do before changing its harbor code, with a draft of the proposed change this summer.

The agency did not respond, city staff said.


If the council approves, the speed exception would be limited to city tidelands — which cover most of the harbor — and human- or wind-powered vessels, plus support or coach boats, during races or organized practices. The activities would require a city permit, valid for a day or up to six months.

Generally, harbor boaters are held to a “no-wake” 5-knot speed limit, which is equivalent to about 5.8 mph on land. However, races like the Beer Can regattas, a local summer tradition, have informally been exempted.

The council voted in May to have staff approach the state after the Harbor Commission also gave a thumbs-up to formalizing the speed exception, a longtime off-and-on issue.

Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.


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