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Newport delays vote on forming a Harbor Department but OKs one for utilities

A proposed Newport Beach municipal Harbor Department would combine operations, including mooring management and code enforcement, and resources such as permitting and land-use functions.
(File Photo)

The Newport Beach City Council put off a decision Tuesday on whether to create a municipal Harbor Department, though it moved ahead on a plan to form a Utilities Department.

Councilman Brad Avery said the Harbor Department plan needs further review. The council will bring it back at its June 12 meeting.

The proposed department would report to the city manager and be a combination of harbor operations, which handles on-the-water issues such as mooring management and code enforcement, and harbor resources, which handles permitting and other land-use functions.

Harbor resources is a unit of the Public Works Department; harbor operations is under the assistant city manager.


The council went ahead with a plan to restructure the Municipal Operations Department by moving its general services portion into the Public Works Department and allowing its utilities arm to stand as its own department.

General services maintains the beaches, streets, facilities, equipment, parks and trees. Utilities handles water and sewer operations, storm drains, street sweeping, oil, gas, streetlights and other electrical functions. Public works covers infrastructure and traffic planning, engineering and construction, development review and permitting, and water quality and environmental services.

The city formed the Municipal Operations Department in 2011 after reviewing workflow, costs and staffing during the recession. General services and utilities had been separate departments for decades before.

Municipal operations was run by two co-directors, but the city reevaluated with the directors’ recent retirements. The council and city staff first discussed the proposed realignment at a meeting this month.


The council Tuesday unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance to realign the municipal operations and public works departments. It will make its final vote June 12.

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