Discussion on Possible Changes to Marine Activities Permit

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Harbor users, both locals and visitors, enjoy the water during a summer afternoon.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

Possible changes to Marine Activities Permits was the focus of a meeting this week, prompting discussion about how charter boats operate in Newport Harbor.

The Harbor Commission Ad-Hoc Committee is seeking public input on revisions to Title 17 of the city’s Municipal Code, the Harbor Code, and holding a series of meetings to thoroughly review it. At a forum held Monday at the Central Library’s Friends Meeting Room, section 17.10 about Marine Activities Permits was reviewed.

Committee members emphasized that these are preliminary revisions and do not represent recommendations of the Harbor Commission. Resident feedback, comments, and suggestions are invited and encouraged.

Highlights of the discussion revolved around who is required to obtain a MAP, possible new permits to further distinguish between different types of harbor activities, noise, parking, and identification stickers.

Currently, anyone scheduling, arranging, or coordinating the operation of a bareboat charter or certified charter, anyone who owns a U.S. Coast Guard certified vessel and permits use of the vessel as a certified charter, and anyone operating a charter on the waters of Newport Harbor is required to obtain a MAP.

If a charter is doing business outside of the harbor, and only uses the water in Newport Harbor for egress and ingress, no MAP is needed, Committee member Bill Kenney confirmed.

The Committee is proposing changing the language to add that anyone who rents any type of vessel, human, electric or fuel powered, for operation on the waters of Newport Harbor, is also required to obtain a MAP.

Harbor Service Worker Lead Ned Lyon prepares to tow a person on a stand up paddle board that was struggling against the wind on April 10.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Committee members also discussed adding different types of permits for different activities, including charter vessels not serving food and beverage services, on-water service providers (divers, fuel delivery, pump-out, wash-outs, etc.). and rental of human, electric or fuel powered vessels.

Creating multiple versions of the MAP may help address a number of the issues, Harbormaster Kurt Borsting commented.

“This is all about being neighborly,” Borsting said, and “finding ways we can share the harbor.”

There was also a lot of talk about noise from charter boats. It is currently prohibited to play music or sound that could disturb a person of “normal sensitivity” at 100 feet from the vessel. Amplified music or noise is also prohibited after 10 p.m., as well as horns, whistles and bells, unless required by the Coast Guard.

Like laws prohibiting certain activities on land, people still do it despite the ordinance, Kenney pointed out. The goal is to try and enhance enforcement, he added.

“There are good operators out there,” who teach their customers how to properly use the vessel, what they are and aren’t allowed to do, and more, Kenney added. “And there are those who don’t, and those are the ones that cause the problems.”

Some of the discussion revolved around parking. A condition of the MAP is to provide “adequate” off-street parking for all passengers or patrons.

A business with a building on land has to prove it is able to provide adequate parking, Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs.

It helps that so many people are using Uber or Lyft or similar services now, one member of the audience pointed out.

The group also talked about requiring a sticker or some sort of operator identification on each vessel so Harbor Patrol and the Harbormaster can quickly recognize the Marine Activities permittee/owner.

Audience members seemed to support the idea. It’s good marketing, noted one resident.

“I don’t see the negative of it, as an operator,” she said. “If you don’t want your name on whatever craft that you’re renting, then, what are doing?”

The next MAP review meeting will be Wednesday at the Marina Park Community and Sailing Center, at 1600 W. Balboa Blvd., on the Balboa Peninsula, at 6 p.m.

The sun rises over the moorings in Newport Harbor.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
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