Newport Harbor Lauded at Marine Committee Meeting

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By Victoria Kertz | NB Indy

Despite the challenges faced by a small, bustling harbor like Newport’s, good news was delivered by the boatful at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Marine Committee’s monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Councilman Ed Selich reported the approval of the Grand Canal Bridge Project, which will happen in three phases. The first phase will cost $370,000. He assured residents that the sediment dredged would be taken out to sea, as local homeowners expressed concern about the smell.

Selich also confirmed the approval of an 84-foot dock at the end of Central Avenue (near the Elks Lodge), which will be open to the public to use for when they’d like to visit Lido Marina Village or Cannery Village.

The Newport Harbor Yacht Club donated $350,000 to the project, which will cover construction of the dock, as a condition of approval by the California Coastal Commission for building a new clubhouse on their property. The dock will be city-owned and maintained. They hope to go out to bid for its construction in February 2017.

Many guests came to hear the invited speaker, Dan Schmitz of Schmitz and Associates, who serves as the city’s consultant on all issues set before the CCC. Schmitz praised the city’s diligent work on marine matters.

He said that when it comes to getting projects approved by the Coastal Commission, “it takes a very dynamic bureaucracy that can bring forward the right arguments and prove that what is being proposed is the right thing to do.”  

Schmitz went on to describe past and current projects, as well as some background on the Commission’s history. He said that Newport Beach would not have the number of projects approved without the tireless efforts of City Council, the Planning Commission, and everyone else involved.

“The fact that you see all the things around you,” referring to the recently built Marina Park and its surroundings, “is exceptional,” he said. “You have an exceptional city here.”

Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller spoke about the importance of maintaining a healthy amount of eelgrass in the harbor. Eelgrass grows along the shoreline of the entire coast of California and provides a breeding place for many species of fish.

It is a sensitive subject for local homeowners who want to dredge in front of their property and create deeper water for their watercraft. He asked residents to be patient and that as long as the quantity of eelgrass does not collapse, reasonable projects will more than likely be approved in the future.

Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank stated the eelgrass issue more bluntly, “The more we have, the more we can disturb.”

On the subject of eelgrass, the Orange County Coastkeepers will conduct an Eelgrass and Dredging Workshop along with the city of Newport Beach on November 10 at 6 p.m. at Marina Park.

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosnasky spoke of the upcoming Christmas Boat Parade, which will be held each night between December 14 – 18. He said that there will be a different Grand Marshall each evening, and that the names would be announced very soon. The chamber has set a goal of 100 boats to register in advance and participate in the parade.

The Marine Committee is scheduled to meet again December 6.

For more information, visit coastal.ca.gov, newportbeach.com, and coastkeeper.org.

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