Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Harbor Report: To jet-pack, or not to jet-pack

By Len Bose
September 12, 2014 | 5:16 p.m.

Boats are selling, and the marine industry people around town are moving like it's 2007. That's part of the reason why I was not able to submit a column last week.
While I was working in Monterey last week, Amy Elliott from the Balboa Angling Club called me, and it sounded like she had just won the lottery. "Eric Kim just caught a 50-pound wahoo. There are news trucks here and people everywhere. We have never seen a wahoo of this size this far north before. I'll send you over the information." Click. Wahoo are a warm-water fish that are normally found in Hawaii or Mexico. With the rising ocean temperatures, the fishing has been going off the scales this summer (that's a Len Bose pun, by the way).
This week, I attended the Harbor Commission meeting where the subject was water-propelled vessels or jet packs and the review of the commission's goals for 2014-15.
To me, the water-propelled vessels issue is a no-brainer, and one of my favorite people in town, Judy Cole, eloquently pointed out the obvious during public comments. "Jet packs" are no different than jet skis and should be kept to the same standards as any other vessel moving through the harbor. In other words, the operation of "jet packs" should be restricted inside the harbor, and the operators should only use them in the ocean.
I was very pleased to notice how the water-propelled ad hoc committee chairman took on this task. Bill "Skip" Kenney took the bull by the horns and gave an informative presentation on his progress. It's always good to see a new commissioner jump in, put his head down and get to work.
These are the proposed goals for the Harbor Commission for 2014-15:
1. The first objective is an improved Regional General Permit 54 (RGP54). This improved permit will streamline permitting for residents and marinas to dredge under their docks by combining the permits required by the Army Corps of Engineers, California Coastal Commission and State Water Resources Control Board. Without this city permit, this type of dredging is extremely complex and expensive for the individual and marina operator.
The major obstacle to having a usable dredging permit is eelgrass. One way to work past this obstacle is to develop the Newport shallow waters eelgrass mitigation plan. At last count, there are six government agencies that all have to sign off on this plan to make this permit more efficient and cost-effective. Harbor Commissioners Doug West, Duncan McIntosh and Brad Avery, along with Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller, have been working on this project for more than two years now. They have worked their way through every agency other than the Coastal Commission, which will be reviewing this and hopefully coming to a decision by the first of next year.
2. Development of recommendations for the best public use of the Lower Castaways. This objective has been assigned to Commissioners David Girling and Avery. Chairing this objective is Girling and, from my observations, he is staying on task and has made good progress, receiving help from the city manager, council member Nancy Gardner and the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission.
3. Bulkhead and pierhead lines in conjunction with current vessel overhang regulations. Commissioners McIntosh and Joe Stapleton have this task. It was commented that this task is too broad in scope and should be focused on vessel overhang.
4. Strengthen the Harbor Commission's public outreach. Commissioners Paul Blank, Girling and Avery have this task. Blank is chairing and, as always, doing an outstanding job. Make sure you mark your calendars for the Public Outreach Harbor Tour aboard a ferry. It will be Saturday, Nov. 15.
Other topics being considered are marine code enforcement, alternative anchorages, water taxis and floating docks.
I'd like to give it up for Miller and Harbor Resources Supervisor Shannon Levin. From my observation point, both of these two are stepping up and walking that extra mile for our harbor.
Remember, "it's up to you" on how you want our harbor to look and run. This is the best time of year to get involved. Make a note to attend the next month's commission meeting and Sept. 17 Tidelands Management Committee meeting.

Sea ya.

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