Newport Harbor might get a second permanent anchorage.
The Harbor Commission agreed Wednesday to move ahead with designating the seasonal anchorage in the turning basin west of Lido Isle as a year-round amenity, pending City Council and Coast Guard approvals.
Commissioner Ira Beer said the anchorage hasn’t been a source of significant complaints over the three years it’s been in place.
It draws 40 to 60 boats a month, or about 25% of the turnout of the main anchorage between the eastern tip of Lido Isle and the west side of Bay Island.
That means the demand is there for an additional location, he said.
“Presumably that would take some pressure off of that east-end anchorage and would be a benefit, probably, to your staff and keeping things safe and orderly,” Beer said, addressing city Harbormaster Dennis Durgan.
Also, the recent opening of a public pier at Central Avenue that gives easy dinghy access to Lido Marina Village, the soon-to-open Lido House hotel and other services makes the anchorage a resident- and visitor-friendly feature, Beer added.
The anchorage gives boaters a free place to stay for up to five days. As a summer feature open roughly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it eased some of the crowding at the main anchorage.
Harbor Manager Chris Miller said the city estimates the 5-acre turning basin patch could hold up to 10 to 12 boats of varying size.
The potentially permanent anchorage would follow rules already in place, including disallowing bright lights or music after 9 p.m. and those against raft-ups (tying a group of boats together). The harbormaster would have authority to enforce length-of-stay rules, move boats if they’re obstructing sailing races and to close or adjust the boundaries for special events, including the Christmas Boat Parade.
When the anchorage would go year-round is unclear. A Coast Guard permit could take some time, as a federal review process would be needed to update the harbor’s nautical charts, according to a city staff report.
In the meantime, staff intends to seek City Council approval for another summer anchorage for this year.