A trial anchorage program will soon be placed on the west side of Lido Isle following a Newport Beach City Council vote this week.
Council approved the item 6-1, with Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon dissenting.
“What we’re asking for is just a shot to try it,” said Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery.
. The idea is to try a polygon in the general recommended configuration, recognizing that they will receive feedback from harbor users, boaters and residents, said Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller.
“We will adjust it as needed – happily – and massage it into place,” Miller said.
Following the trial period staff will return to council with results and look for further direction.
“That’s the whole goal of this – to try these things,” Avery said. “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. We’ll roll it up and go home.”
Several council members and members of the public voiced their concerns about response and enforcement from the city and Harbor Patrol when there is a violation.
“If we are going to do this, I’d like to see actual enforcement when somebody does complain about noise or the other possible problems that could arise here,” Petros said.
Harbor Patrol has expressed their commitment to actively patrolling the area, Miller noted. They also got a commitment for more patrol, Avery added.
The trial program will not allowing raft-ups (two or more boats together) and keeping a mindful about the noise.
Marshall “Duffy” Duffield also expressed support and interest in how it would be policed.
Most noise is due to raft-ups, when groups coming down rafting up 10 boats and having a party, Avery said. Restricting it to only one boat should help diminish that issue.
Rafting and not enough policing were the main issues in other areas, Duffield explained. Both of those issues will be addressed with this project, he added.
“I’m convinced that this will work,” Duffield said.
The previous anchorage area in the same general area was more of a “quick measure” during the lower bay dredging when they needed access. They acknowledged that the area went largely unchecked at the time and residents spoke up loud and clear about the issue during a Harbor Commission meeting, Miller noted.
“We vowed never to let that happen again,” he said.“When we were evaluating these alternatives that was fresh in our minds, hence, which is why we brought the Harbor Patrol to make that pledge.”
Miller added that he will work with them and do everything in his power to make sure the enforcement happens.
Dixon noted that there are several residents who are not happy with the idea and asked why it was even needed, particularly “at this spot, at this time.”
“I think that is one of our primary reasons: To offer a great amenity to transient boaters to have a great time in Newport,” Duffield responded. “Make it a user-friendly harbor.”
The majority of the waterfront is commercial, Duffield pointed out. The uniqueness of Newport Harbor is that an outside boat can come in, anchor, and use a dinghy to go ashore and visit the restaurants and businesses. The proposed location will allow for just that, he noted.
“It makes a heck of a lot of sense to have it there,” Duffield said, “plus, it reduces the amount of boats that would be – on weekends – in the busiest part of the harbor, which is the lower turning basin and that’s always good to minimize that.”
Duffield suggested moving it a bit north, away from both shores.
It can be moved over and not impact that channel, Avery explained. It could be moved off about 100 feet off in each direction, possibly more.
Both Avery and Miller agreed moving it about 100 feet – subject to more input after it’s installed, Miller added.
“For this trial, it’s incumbent upon us – the city, Harbor Resources, the Harbor Commission – to do a little outreach to the boaters that show up to these anchorages,” Avery said.
Their aim is for visiting boaters to enjoy the harbor while residents still enjoy their lifestyles, Avery said.
Several residents spoke during public comment on the matter, including Paul Weinberg, who also represented his mother, who lives in the area.
It will definitely have an impact on public views, he said. It will have a substantially adverse effect on the scenic vista and degrade the existing visual character or quality of the site.
“Nobody considered, when they put this whole thing together, how is it going to look when you have to look at it all day?” Weinberg said. “And all these people that live there are going to be looking at this field all the time.”
Weinberg also expressed concerned about safety. Boats have a hard time turning in that area and sometimes turn too sharply, he said, a few have even hit his mother’s dock. Putting an obstacle – the mooring field, in the middle of that will only make it more difficult, he said.
He urged the council not to rush to a decision and hold more discussion on the issue.
Lido Park Drive resident Katherine Johansen, whose home overlooks the proposed anchorage area, also spoke.
“I am very concerned about the noise,” she said.
To patrol and enforce the noise regulations takes more resources and money, she said, which she doubts the Harbor Patrol has more of either.
It will also bring increased traffic in an already congested area.
“We are entitled to quiet enjoyment too,” Johansen said. “We are entitled to the same quality of life that the rest of you get to enjoy in Newport Beach.”