Harbor Commission Considers Anchorage Trial in Turning Basin

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A map shows the outline of the trial anchorage area previously approved by City Council along with the hydro-jet area, prior Invictus location, and Lido Boat Show area. — Photo courtesy city of Newport Beach ©
A map shows the outline of the trial anchorage area previously approved by City Council along with the hydro-jet area, prior Invictus location, and Lido Boat Show area. (click to enlarge)
— Photo courtesy city of Newport Beach ©

The majority of Harbor Commissioners agreed Wednesday night that another trial anchorage in the Turning Basin was worth a shot.

The Harbor Commission voted 6-1 to approve a temporary anchorage, contingent on the information gathered by working with related resources (like Harbor Patrol) to determine a code enforcement plan to deal with various issues (specifically noise complaints) and monitoring the program. Commissioner Joe Stapleton dissented.

The logistics of how it would be supported need to be in place before the idea is implemented, noted Commission Chair Dave Girling.

“We owe it to the citizens to make sure we’ve thought through what plan will be in place for enforcing some of the issues that we‘ve seen,” Girling said.

Staff anticipated that it would cost $3,000 or less to deploy and retrieve the four buoys needed for the anchorage. Commissioners directed staff to aim for the trial to run somewhere between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Before it can be implemented, both the commission and city council have to give their approval on the final plan.

The biggest concern commissioners expressed was related to noise issues.

“It really boils down… to solving the noise issue,” said Commissioner Brad Avery.

Noise is difficult to control in this area of the harbor, noted Commission Secretary Joe Stapleton. Adding onto that the jetpacks flying around and the time it would take Harbor Patrol to respond to complaints, it’s not worth it, he commented. There does not seem to be a demand for it, Stapleton said, and if there isn’t enough demand it will just be more of a nuisance

“I just don’t see the benefit,” Stapleton said.

There are both pros and cons to the idea, Avery said. They are open to ideas to adjust the plan and make it work, he noted.

In the end, this is a desirable area to come and anchor and get to shore to shop, eat, and enjoy the area, Avery noted.

“It’s a beautiful spot to anchor,” Avery said.

There will soon be increased demand to anchor in that area with the development of Lido Village, noted Commissioner Doug West.

“That area of the harbor is going to become invigorated in a way that it has not been in a very long period,” West said. “It’s all looking up.”

This anchorage area is worth testing further, he added.

Public speakers seemed to agree.

“There is definitely an opportunity and a need here to take some of the load off of the East Lido anchorage,” said Waterfront Lido Isle resident Carter Ford.

It would help the East Lido anchorage, harbor user Bob Yates added. There is a safety issue at the east location, he noted, and an anchorage in the Turning Basin would be a “godsend.”

But not everyone was on board with the idea.

In a letter to the commission, resident Pam Whitesides said an anchorage in the Turning Basin would negatively impact surrounding residents’ right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes.

The first trial was a disaster, she noted. It was “full of boats and completely out of control,” she wrote.

“There was virtually no enforcement of any noise or boundary rules, even when we called to report the problems,” Whitesides explained.

She and other residents hoped the “nightmare” was over when the summer 2015 trial ended.

Whitesides goes into detail in her letter about other issues they face in the area surrounding the Turning Basin, how the city’s policies affect the residents, other contributing factors to the problem, and more.

She also asked the commission to have a plan in place to monitor and enforce the harbor rules.

A lot of people in the harbor just don’t know the rules, several commissioners agreed.

Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield suggested looking into a welcome committee, of sorts, where each boater gets greeted and a pamphlet of information and rules, similar to the Avalon harbor.

Avery suggested a non-uniformed code enforcement officer that’s a “friendly face” providing information, focusing on educating harbor users.  

Overall, most of the commissioners agreed that the ideas was worth trying out.

“We all have concerns,” Avery said. “The main thing is, if we’re going to do something that’s going to make the harbor more attractive – not only to our local residents, but visiting boaters (as well) – and just try something, then we have to do a good job of making sure it has the least impact on the residents as possible.”

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