Monday, February 11, 2008
"The Masthead" Issue # 7 2-11-08 "Its going to get ugly"
I am sure you will all remember the Cuban Missile Standoff of the 1960s, and then the term Mexican Standoff of the 1970s, and I am sure none of you will ever forget the Surf Board Standoff on Oahu’s North Shore. Well, the Newport Standoff may begin this Wednesday night at 6:00 Pm in the Newport City Council Chambers.
On one side of the table you will have the Newport Harbor Master Deana Bergquist, Assistant Harbor Master Erin Giudice, and Sergeant Steven McCormick. The Harbor Department will be presenting their concerns in "insuring public safety".
On the other side of the table will be every sailor in Newport Beach and Southern California wondering why the sudden change in policy? Keelboats have been racing in Newport Harbor for over a hundred years – what is necessitating a change now? What pressing and urgent safety issue is taking precedence over a long, successful and prestigious boating heritage?
And finally, in the middle you will have the City of Newport Beach, the Newport Harbor Commission and City Staff wondering “What happened to our peaceful harbor?” Weren’t we doing fine 2 or 3 years ago?
Recently the Harbor Department has changed their interpretation of a number of policies and the one bringing the issue to a boil is enforcing the speed limit for sailboats racing in the bay. This strict enforcement of the 5 MPH will shut down all keelboat racing in Newport Harbor. That’s right, no Monday night American Legion races, and no Beer Can races this summer. I am sure someone else will point out all the other type of boating that exceeds the speed limit, and if we have to stop exceeding the speed limit why don’t they have to as well?
What’s the right thing to do? I have no idea; but this one has the potential to get ugly! The best answer to solve this problem has come from Tom Rossmiller, the Harbor Resource Manager for the city of Newport Beach who suggests the establishment of a stakeholder list, and set up a meeting to determine various concerns and perceptions of this issue and talk it out.
The only comment I can make at this time is EVERYONE MUST attend this Harbor Commission Meeting this Wednesday night and try not to come into the room with both guns blazing. It will be hard for me and many other boaters to do this, but it’s truly time to listen to the facts, perceptions and the details that have led up to this potential impasse and try to come to some sort of compromise.
Also, if you think about it, the way the lower bay is filling up with sediment and the lack of funding for dredging this might be all a muddied point anyway?
Please, let us take the time to address all needs of the use of our beautiful harbor, and yet honor and continue the traditions from our long and remarkable past. Newport City Hall 3300 Newport Blvd. Newport Beach, CA 92663