Summarized from Harbormaster Kurt Borsting’s report to the Harbor Commission on Wednesday.
Response Efforts to Recent Storms
The rain and storms the last two months had the potential for a number of impounded vessels taking on water. On Feb. 6 city Utilities Department provided assistance to Harbor Department team members with dewatering a number of such vessels. Working together, staff successfully pumped out five distressed vessels, reducing their risk of sinking while in the Harbor and under the city’s care and control.
The Harbor Department has subsequently purchased its own high capacity submergible sump pump for on-going operational needs, and has since been performing follow up pump outs to keep these vessels safe.
“We are now the proud owners of a… evacuator 4000,” Borsting said. “We’re very happy to be getting the tools that will help our boating community.”
Successful Auction of Abandoned Vessels
A boat auction was held at Marina Park on Feb. 8. The public sale featured two previously impounded and abandoned vessels (a Duffy brand electric boat and a Beneteau brand 31’ sailboat). The program was well attended, competitive bidding took place and both vessels were successfully sold. The program resulted in $10,400 in sales revenue to the department.
A father and son duo are now the proud owners of the sailboat.
“That’s the more important part of the story,” Borsting noted, “this is taking vessels that are otherwise not being cared for and putting them in the hands of families that are committed to putting in the time and energy so that they are not derelict vessels, but they are going to be useful vessels.”
Public Information and Departmental Outreach Efforts
Meetings with stakeholder groups continued during February, aimed at fostering cooperative working relationships with partner organizations and informing the public about the Harbor Department and its mission.
Events included participating in the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Boat Parade wrap-up event and speaking at the yachtsman’s luncheon at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
They also conducted a joint meeting with the Harbor Department and OC Sheriff’s Department.
“We need to have outreach with our peers,” Borsting said. “So, we are really working hard to continue to develop our strong working relationship with the Orange County Sheriff’s staff.”
Through that meeting, there was an agreement about how to handle special event permitting requests, clearing up some confusion between the two offices. After some follow-up conversations, they’ve decided to essentially move that entire process over to the city.
“So, the city’s Harbor Department can act as a one-stop shop,” Borsting noted, adding that they’ll continue the discussion with OCSD.
In early February, correspondence regarding recently approved Harbor Department fees and select rents, were sent by email and U.S. Postal Service to all affected customers with addresses on file.
Oceanside Site Visit – Sea Lion Platform
Borsting, along with Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank and Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs, visited Oceanside on Feb. 25 to learn about the city’s floating platform intended for sea lions’ use.
“They’ve had a mixed bag, in terms of outcomes,” Borsting commented.
Oceanside Harbor Division Director Ted Schiafone showed the Newport officials the 35-foot by 35-foot platform.
The sea lions do use that as “their spot” and there are fewer hauling out on vessels and docks, he noted.
But, on the flip side, the noise is concentrated and louder as the animals compete for space on the platform. It’s also been an attractant for people to visit, he added.
These concerns and other factors deserve additional research before a similar platform is considered for locations within Newport Harbor, Borsting said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries shared sea lion deterrents during a presentation to the Harbor Commission on Wednesday (read the story here).
Code Enforcement Activity
During February, code enforcement staff opened 70 new cases and successfully resolved/closed 68 files. Staff also issued 69 warning notices, 18 administrative citations, and approximately 28 verbal warnings during the month.
Staff primarily focused on permittees with significantly delinquent mooring overhauls. Some of these overhauls were past due by more than three years.
Staff also personally distributed informational handouts and posters associated with stand up paddleboard safety practices to 10 area SUP rental concessioners. A second round material distribution, to other identified storefronts is planned for later this month.
SAVE Grant Reapplication Process
The Harbor Department will be re-applying for the California Division of Boating and Waterways Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange grant.
This program combines resources from the state’s Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund and the Vessel Turn-In Program grants into one, allowing local public agencies a more streamlined application and grant management process. This approach also allows funds to be used with flexibility towards both purposes as needed.
The city will pursue approximately the same amount they previously received, $125,000.