Residents, Commissioners Discuss Harbor Vision

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Participants Pat Coomans (far left) and Jerry McGraw add their notes on Newport Harbor’s strengths, their concerns, and possible solutions during the Harbor Commission study session Harbor Plan exercise.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

The Newport Beach Harbor Commission held a study session Wednesday in the Little Balboa Island meeting room at Marina Park that focused on the future of the harbor.

Commissioners Paul Blank and Scott Cunningham led the session, which was an interactive exercise that asked the audience to identify strengths, concerns, and possible solutions, regarding harbor issues.

Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank goes over the note cards and emphasis stickers placed on the boards.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Participants wrote their notes on three different colored cards (one for each area of strength, concern, and solution) and taped them to large posters attached along the walls. They then used round stickers to emphasize which areas were of the most concern or were the best ideas.

The Harbor Plan will detail the vision that residents, officials, harbor stakeholders, and other interested parties, want for Newport Harbor over the next five years, and as far into the future as the next 20 years, Blank explained.

“This will set for us the priorities as we go about developing the Harbor Plan,” Blank said.

As one of the Commission’s objectives is to draft a Harbor Plan that can be “used independently or in conjunction with an update to the General Plan,” which is planned to begin next year.

About a dozen residents, along with Harbor Commissioners and new Harbormaster Kurt Borsting, participated in the activity.

The topics that gathered the most blue card strengths were live-aboard (vessels, rules, etc.), water quality, and public docks.

Harbor Commission Chair Dave Girling adds one of his notes to the dredging board.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Most of the concern identified by the group were in code and law enforcement, charter fleet, moorings and mooring fields, and public docks.

The most solution cards were taped to the large posters regarding anchorage, charter fleets, mooring and mooring fields, public docks, and sea lions.

Under charter fleet, participants wrote that there are well behaved professionals (a positive blue card), but that enforcement of the rules is lacking. There were a few solutions proposed, including improved communication and working with the charter boats for long term solutions.

The law and code enforcement also got a lot of notes, including that it’s improved with the Harbormaster team created in July 2017. Several blue emphasis dots were place on a solution that suggested hiring permanent code enforcement officers for the newly created Harbor Department.

Another popular topic were the moorings and mooring fields. Under one suggested solution of shrinking the mooring field footprint, while still maintaining the same number of moorings, there were several dots of each color to emphasize a mixed reaction of both concern and positive support.

Other topics that were part of the exercise include dredging, ecosystem, eelgrass management, marine adjacent business, public access,

There will be approximately 18 more of these sessions over the next 18 or so months, Blank explained after the meeting. It will conclude with a report summarizing the findings.

Jerry McGraw adds a suggestion to the public docks board during the Harbor Plan exercise.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Kathy McGraw adds a card with a possible solution onto the moorings and mooring fields board.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Several topics were stood out to participants in the exercise, including public docks and public access.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
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