Saturday, June 20, 2015

Harbor Report: A good few weeks for our harbor

Newport Beach City Council Special Meeting June 16th
By Len Bose
June 19, 2015 | 9:00 p.m.

We have had another couple of busy weeks concerning the politics of the harbor with the near completion of a revised dredging permit (Regional General Permit 54) and a Newport Beach specific eelgrass plan. We also have the City Council directing staff to provide it with a resolution for mooring fees and transferability.
Back in January 2013 I used a football analogy to describe the state of the harbor in reference to dredging and eelgrass: the harbor was in the red zone, first and goal. The goal was to obtain a new RPG 54 and a Newport-specific eelgrass plan.
Today the pass has been completed and received, with the California Coastal Commission raising its hands to indicate a touchdown. With so many different agencies involved in umpiring this game, it had to be sent upstairs for further review by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Everyone from our harbor's team is quite optimistic that the corps will signal a touchdown within the next 60 days. What does all of this mean to our harbor? A new RPG-54 helps residents and marina owners acquire a dredging permit without going through sediment-testing and agency negotiations.
When passed, this will allow pier permit holders to dredge down to 10 feet -- we are at 7 feet now -- and move up to 8,000 cubic yards of sediment from under their slips; we are now at 1,000 cubic yards.
The real score is with our own eelgrass plan; this will significantly reduce the cost of dredging because pier permit holders will no longer have to plant eelgrass. They will only have to attach eelgrass seed bags to their piers, which will replenish the shallow eelgrass. This is a very good thing and everyone should keep in mind now that eelgrass is our friend.
This has been a very long game and it all circles back to our Harbor Resource team and Manager Chris Miller for producing 10 years of eelgrass surveys. The surveys are completed every other year and provide the information needed to obtain our own plan.
It is my understanding that no other county or city has its own mitigation plan. If this is all completed, Harbor Commissioner Doug West and Miller will be asked: "Now that you have won the Super Bowl, where will you be going next?"
Harbor Commissioner Brad Avery

If you love watching games you will enjoy the political game that occurred at the City Council special meeting on June 16 regarding mooring permits. I would love to watch this meeting as an NFL highlights reel. Should you be interested you can watch the replay on the City Council video stream.
Rather than give you the play by play, though it would be fun to do, I am only going to touch on the highlights. The council unanimously voted to accept the Harbor Commission recommendation with the caveat to lower the annual permit from $55 a foot to $35 — but the Harbor Commission recommend $25.
Mooring permit transfer fees will be 10% of the selling price. A primary permit holder will be listed as a contact along with secondary contact person.
The Harbor Commission recommends allowing permits to be transferred; a person can only hold two mooring permits in their name and can transfer one permit a year. A Web page will be created to show comparable transfers prices. That's it in a nutshell and with that, staff will return with a resolution in a upcoming council meeting.
Back to the game part of the story: At noon the day of the special meeting, the city staff received a letter from the state Lands Commission, which holds the control of our tidelands. I have not seen a copy of the letter although it is my understanding that the lands commission would like to speak with the city about how it came to a fair market value for the mooring permits. Should you watch the stream it is very obvious who contacted the lands commission and pulled in an old favor.
Former City Council Member Mike Henn

I see this letter as a last-ditch effort to keep the council from requesting a new resolution.
Bottom line after all of this is, it has been a good couple of weeks for us harbor users, our Harbor Commission and our city.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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