Marina guest docks to be segregated

After months of complaints from property owners about noise and security issues, the Balboa Marina guest docks are slated to be segregated from the rest of the marina, according to a harbor official.

The Temporary Guest Slips will be moved from in front of the 3-Thirty-3 Waterfront restaurant on Bayside Drive to the east end of the marina, while the rest of the docks will be closed off to the public by three locked gates, according to a Harbor Commission staff report from February.

"When the marina was rebuilt in 2009, the remodel provided visitor slips for the public to go from the water to the land," said Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller. "But, there was not really a plan in place to have a secure, private marina, but still allow public access to the slips."

An exact date has yet to be finalized, but Miller is optimistic that the new guest slips would be in place by the summer boating season.

In addition to moving the slips as close as possible to the main marina gangway — which would lessen the noise created by the "walk time" — marina hours will be strictly enforced by a guard and automatically locking gates operated by California Recreation Co.

"It's a really good plan," Miller said of the plan aimed at balancing security with the need for public access.

Since the remodel of the Irvine Co.-owned marina, the guest slips, which are connected by a long gangway, have been the source of numerous complaints from Linda Isle residents about noise made by late-night visitors exiting nearby establishments.

"As part of the development of Balboa Marina … the Irvine Co. agreed to provide four public docking spaces," wrote Harbor Commission Liaison Nancy Gardner in her March newsletter.

"Unfortunately, the request came along so late that the design was already in place and instead of being carefully integrated, the public spaces had to be tacked on," Gardner wrote. "The result — a long, gated walkway leading to the berths — satisfied no one."

The late-night traffic was also a source of concern to the marina's many boat owners who lease slips there.

With the new plan, the marina's hours will be enforced from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the gates locking and unlocking automatically. The guard will be available until 11 p.m. to let people through the gates, according to the staff report.

"We believe the outcome reflects the collective needs of residents, boat owners and the general public," said Erin Freeman, vice president of communications for the Irvine Co.

"We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that noise and security issues are appropriately managed," she said. "We appreciate Councilwoman Gardner's leadership on the matter."

While registered visitors and lease holders will have a key, other visitors will have to abide to the hours or get locked out, Miller said.

"After 11, the line has to be drawn — the marina is closed," Miller said. "Restaurants and businesses will have to participate and work to educate their guests."

"We can't expect the Balboa Marina to maintain 24-hour access," he continued.

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