The Harbor Column: Harbor haps I don't understand

I do enjoy writing the Harbor Column each week mostly because of the recognition around town. My editors at the Daily Pilot are extremely patient and really form my random thoughts into a piece you can understand.

That said, now I need help understanding what's been going on around Newport Harbor.

Last week I read Jill Cowan's Dec. 30 article, "Harbor high on 2013 agenda."

I did not have any problem understanding Cowan's well-written story, but I couldn't grasp why the Newport Beach City Council would want to attend another two- to three-hour meeting each month rather than trust the opinion and recommendations of their appointed commissioners.

"Our experience with the Tidelands Management Committee was that it was very effective," Councilwoman Nancy Gardner was quoted as saying in Cowan's article.

"Members of the Harbor Commission, on the other hand, had 'seemed frustrated that things they were doing didn't seem to get through,' she said," according to the article.

From my observations over the last few years and from talking to past commissioners, I get the impression that there was no line of communication between council members and commissioners, although Gardner seems to be the exception. In fact, one commissioner said their assigned council member told them they were not needed.

But the commissioners are needed. They are boaters, harbor-users and marine-business owners who have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge by observing the harbor and watching how it works. They are approachable yacht-, fishing- and rowing-club members. They care about the harbor.

Basically, the commissioners are racing sailboat tacticians, while the council members have their hands on the helm and make the final decisions. The best helmsman always listens closely to his tactician.

This next issue I really need help understanding is our city's tidelands accounting system.

I had a chance to talk to a resident known as the go-to person for following the money trail. Unfortunately, it was only about an hour and a half over lunch and I could not keep up. I came away thinking there is plenty of money coming in for the tidelands, but a very small percentage being spent on the harbor. I read Councilwoman Leslie Daigle's Dec. 22 commentary, "Why I voted against the 'dock tax,'" followed by Councilman Mike Henn's Dec. 27 commentary, "Arguments against dock fees not sound."

You see, my wife and I know when we can afford a vacation or not, when we can afford to replace the washer and dryer or not. Why can't the tidelands budget be as easy to understand for us harbor users? Maybe it's time to analyze other harbor cities' methods for maintaining their tidelands funds.

If you can shed some light on these issues, I'd love to hear from you. Email or visit

Sea Ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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