The Harbor Report: A busy year for the Harbor Commission

As the end of the year approaches, I thought it a good time to review some of our harbor issues and objectives for 2013-14. So let's see how long I can keep your attention.

When discussing harbor issues and objectives, you look to our Newport Beach harbor commissioners first, then the Tidelands Management Committee and finally the City Council.

Who are your harbor commissioners? They are Duncan McIntosh, Karen Rhyne, Doug West, Brad Avery, Paul Blank, David Girling and Joe Stapleton. Our Tidelands Management Committee is made up of City Council members Mike Henn, Nancy Gardner and Ed Selich.

What are the Harbor Commission's objectives for 2014? I took this from the Harbor Commission report: "These objectives are intended to support the mission of the Harbor Area Management Plan and to carry out the role and key responsibilities of the Harbor Commission: (1) to ensure the long term welfare of Newport Harbor for all residential, recreational, and commercial users; (2) to promote Newport Harbor as a preferred and welcoming destination for all to enjoy."

Each of the following objectives is given to a subcommittee, which is tasked with completing a report and presenting its recommendation to the Harbor Commission. Once the Harbor Commission has come to a consensus on the findings, that subcommittee chair will present the recommendation to the Tidelands Management Committee, which then places the objective on the City Council agenda.

Long Term Welfare of Newport Harbor:

1.Our first objective is an improved Regional General Permit 54 (RGP54). This improved permit will streamline permitting for residents and marinas to dredge under their docks by combining the permits required by the Army Corps of Engineers, California Coastal Commission and State Water Resources Control Board. Without this city permit, this type of dredging is extremely complex and expensive for the individual and marina operator.

The major obstacle to having a usable dredging permit is eelgrass. One way to work past this obstacle is to develop the Newport shallow waters eelgrass mitigation plan. At last count, there are six government agencies that all have to sign off on this plan to make this permit more efficient and cost-effective. Harbor Commissioners West, McIntosh and Avery, along with Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller, have been working on this project for more than a year now. The RPG we have in place now expires April 1, and the commissioners are working diligently to achieve this task.

2.Development of recommendations for the best public use of the Lower Castaways. This objective has been assigned to Commissioners Girling, Avery and Rhyne. Chairing this objective is Girling and, from my observations, he is staying on task and has made good progress, receiving help from the city manager, council member Gardner and the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission.

3.Secure California Department of Parks and Recreation approval of our harbor code amendment, which would grant an exception to the harbor speed limit for sanctioned sail racing and human-powered racing events. Commissioners Blank and West are working on this.

4.Bulkhead and pierhead lines in conjunction with current vessel overhang regulations. Commissioners Ryne, McIntosh and Stapleton have this task.

5.Strengthen the Harbor Commission's public outreach. Commissioners Girling, Avery and Blank.

Promoting Newport Harbor as a Preferred and Welcoming Destination:

6. Collaborate with marketing organization Newport Beach & Company to plan and execute a harbor summit event involving key stakeholders in the harbor community. Commissioners Blank, Girlin and West.

7.Carry forward the results of last year's evaluation of existing public piers and potential new locations for public piers. This task has been lead by Blank and will be one of the first objectives I have ever witnessed make it to the Tidelands Management Committee with a chance of getting something done. Commissioners Blank and Girling. The proposed recommendations are on my blog at lenboseyachts.blogspot.com.

8.Complete the evaluation of public anchorage alternatives. Commissioners Avery, McIntosh and West.

9.Update and publish a third edition of the "Complete Cruising Guide to Newport Harbor." Commissioners West, Rhyne and Stapleton.

My thoughts on what should be added to these objectives are on my blog and will offend some people. But you have to play to win, as the saying goes.

Please help our harbor win by attending these meetings and voicing your opinions and recommendations. The next Harbor Commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the old City Hall council chambers. The next Tidelands Management Committee meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Civic Center Community Room.

Sea ya.

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

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