The Harbor Report: Understanding the stormy permit issue

In my June Harbor Report I made the observation of a storm brewing regarding the increase of our harbor's tidelands permits.

It appears that the different stakeholders in our harbor have not dissipated away like a weather system. It's now looking more like they are organizing and increasing their audience.

Now blend in the formation of two newly formed political action committees (PAC), the "Coalition to Preserve Newport Harbor" and the "Stop the Dock Tax" PAC.

Pilot columnist Jack Wu described the PAC's in his column "Politics is getting in the way of business dated July 28. Wu is an accountant and political activist. I am a Newport Harbor "seat of my pants" sailor that describes storms in a different manner.

Before a sailor heads out to sea in a long-distance race they spend hours going over the weather to determine the fastest route to the finish line.

One source of information we use is the surface weather analysis chart. Using this analogy, I am going to try to describe how to use this chart as a comparative and offer my best forecast of the approaching weather system. The surface analysis chart allows the sailor to read sea level pressure fields and they keep barometer on board to plot their location and monitor it in case of any sudden changes.

While reviewing our chart it was noted that an increase of costs in maintaining our harbor has occurred, like everything else, over the last decades.

As the economy slowed, a low-pressure system, the city's tidelands permits fees quickly built and swallowed up the mooring-permit holders with a 300% increase in their permits over five years.

This seems to have fed the low-pressure system because now the city is proposing a 833% increase to the marina operators tidelands permits. As this low pressure system builds over our harbor two high-pressure systems in the form of the two PACs described above have formed.

The sailor then looks at the isobars or isobaric analyses, which are the lines on chart; let's call this the money. Following the money, or obtaining a forensic accounting done to get an accurate picture of what the expenses truly are, and trusting our elected officials to spend our money wisely, plays a big part in a sailor mind on picking the right course.

Every good sailor also reviews yesterday's forecast in the form of appraisals and applies this information into a routing program. The problem with the routing programs is that each program will give you a different route to follow. The last thing sailors want to happen is our boat-money fall into a "TROF."

The key to watching this weather system will be the transition zone. I have sat for days in a high-pressure system racing to Hawaii and sailed in a low-pressure system down the coast of Oregon, and I don't ever want to be caught in those situations again.

I have found in the difficult races sometimes it's best to hire the experienced navigator. In this case would that navigator be called an arbitrator?

Please keep mind. I am the "seat of my pants" sailor who has lost more races than I have won. I just try not to make the same mistake twice. As this race continues I will have to really more on my radar and my mast head fly.

Sea ya.

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