Mooring fees could go up

With the Newport Beach City Council's approval of a contract with the Orange County Sheriff's Department Tuesday night, mooring owners and renters got what they'd been fighting for: The Harbor Patrol will continue to oversee the moorings.

Now it's time to pay for the victory.

"Doggone if you hold a guy down and beat him into submission and it costs him money, well, you ought to pay it," said Chuck South of the Newport Mooring Assn.

The numbers aren't clear yet, but early signs point to the city and the Harbor Patrol raising the price on several mooring-related fees, such as overnight fees for guest moorings.

"We badgered the city to maintain its agreement with the Harbor Patrol mainly for security reasons," South said. "The city wants the mooring permitees to pick up the increased costs of administration. Well, it's kind of a meeting of the minds. I don't think they'll meet a lot of resistance."

The fee to rent a slip overnight in Newport Harbor is $5, which hasn't changed in at least 20 years, city officials said.

Other harbors in California charge several times more than that, said Harbormaster Lt. Mark Long.

He said the Sheriff's Department is conducting a study of most California harbor fees to see if Newport Beach's should be adjusted.

"I think we got to look at what's out there, what's available, and come in line with (what) some of the others are charging," he said.

The study is just one of several related to Newport Harbor. A study last year revealed that the department hadn't adjusted its $115,000 annual contract with Newport Beach since the 1980s for mooring administration.

The Harbor Patrol came back with a new figure to oversee the harbor's 1,200 or so moorings: $290,000.

As the sticker shock set in, city officials explored outside companies to manage the moorings and found cheaper alternatives, but met heavy resistance from the sailing community.

The city approved a five-year contract with the Harbor Patrol Tuesday night that will gradually increase the costs of mooring administration over five years until it reaches $290,000 annually in the 2014-15 budget.

As part of the contract approved Tuesday night, the guest mooring fees from the city will be dependent on what the county determines is appropriate.

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