January 9, 2015 | 12:58 p.m.
It's quiet around the harbor this time of year, and with the high-pressure weather system we have had this week, it's almost spooky how still everything appears when looking across the water. But like lighting the fuse on a fireworks display, you know things are going to start popping soon.
While walking the shipyards this week, I felt that things appeared a little slow, although my very good friend Jimmy Warner, the travel lift operator at Newport Harbor Shipyard, looked like he was preparing for things to be busy very soon.
I got the same response over at Basin Shipyard when I talked to owner Derek New. "We are off to a very good start this year," New said.
We both looked over at Benny Rigdone, the travel lift operator at Basin Marine, and he kind of mumbled something, shook his head and stayed on task.
Over at City Hall, the Harbor Commission has outlined its objectives for 2015, and I thought it would be a good time to review them with you. With all our new City Council members, I am not sure which commissioner reports to which council member yet, but I will let you know as soon as I find the answer.
The following objectives have been approved by the council and tasked to the harbor commissioners who chair the different subcommittees.
One of the responsibilities of the Harbor Commission is to ensure the long-term welfare of Newport Harbor. The first and most important objective this year is to approve the Newport Shallow Waters Eelgrass Mitigation Plan and blend this into a new Regional General Permit (RGP 54).
That's a mouthful. What it means is that we can dredge our slips and commercial marinas more effectively and efficiently for a lot less money. Commissioner Doug West has chaired this committee over the last two years and originally hoped to complete the task by last April.
With more than six government agencies that have to sign off on the proposal, it is my understanding that we are down to the last one, the Coastal Commission. Word is that we might just have our new RGP 54 by the end of the first quarter of this year.
Like I wrote last January, "I should also point out again how lucky we are to have Doug West as our Harbor Commission chairman and Chris Miller as our harbor resources manager leading us to the goal line." Commissioners tasked to this are West, Duncan McIntosh and Brad Avery.
Objective No. 2 is the best use of the Lower Castaways, which is the last remaining undeveloped city-owned waterfront property. It's next to the Pacific Coast Highway bridge on the northwest corner. Commissioner David Girling has been given this task and, again, is the perfect person for this job. I still believe that this is where we need a new launch ramp — a huge task and something everyone needs to stay informed about.
Objective No. 3 is to obtain from the state's Department of Parks and Recreation the granting of an exception to our harbor speed limit for sanctioned sailboat racing and human-powered racing events. Why do we need this task completed? Some of you might remember that a certain harbor master did not agree to the status quo and went on to enforce the speed limits. That person was quickly relieved of duty, and the good thing that came of it was a better line of communication with the Harbor Patrol. Commissioners tasked to this are Paul Blank and West.
Objective No. 4 is to create a forum for dialogue with our harbor's Charter Fleet to promote the shared vision of charter boat operation standards. This one will be interesting to watch. Bottom line on this is that one or two council members, or even the public, will need to push for results on this topic for anything to happen. Commissioners tasked to this are Avery, Girling and Bill Kenney.
Objective No. 5 is to collaborate with the marine committee of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce on a list of recommendations to support the marine industry and recreational activities. Tough battle, but there has never been a better council to work with on this one in a long time. Joe Stapleton, Girling and Blank need to jump on this ASAP.
The next big topic is promoting the harbor as a preferred and welcoming destination. I will have to finish this next week. The bottom line is the same as always: The commissioners need your support to complete the tasks and make this harbor a better place.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating column