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Yacht clubs' mooring arrangement stands

Newport Harbor and Balboa yacht clubs to still lease public moorings and distribute them to their members.

November 30, 2010|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com

NEWPORT BEACH — While the City Council reformed aspects of its harbor mooring management on Nov. 23, it left intact one of the practices identified by a grand jury critical of the process.

Under the new rules, two yacht clubs will still be able to lease some of the public moorings from the city and distribute them among members.

The practice, which has been in place for generations, restricts the public's access to about 20% of the 800 offshore moorings (those in the depths of the harbor as opposed to on the shore). But City Council members and yacht club representatives say that it's a mutually beneficial arrangement that should be maintained.

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"I see them providing what the city doesn't do very well; they provide facilities for dedicated boaters," said Councilwoman Leslie Daigle. "It's like a private-public partnership."

Unlike boaters who lease the city's other offshore moorings, those on the Balboa Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club buoys can bring their crafts to the clubs' docks for maintenance, restocking on water and supplies, and cleaning. Also, the yacht clubs take members out to their moorings on "shore boats" and monitor moored boats during storms.

The city requires moorings to be held in individuals' names, but it has made an exception for BYC, NHYC and the Lido Isle Community Assn, which manages some onshore moorings.

Also, the city has made exceptions for family trusts. The 2007 grand jury report pointed out these exceptions and recommended that the city review the process.

But three years later, after failed reform attempts, the City Council's ad hoc committee passed on changing the yacht clubs' situation.

Councilman Steve Rosansky, who was on the committee, said it was not asked to address the broader question if yacht clubs should be allowed to hold moorings.

It was specifically tasked with reviewing fees, he said.

Rosansky anticipates the City Council will address the yacht clubs' mooring arrangement soon.

In the meantime, the clubs will continue to pay the same fees that other mooring holders pay. Brad Avery, the commodore at NHYC, said the club will eventually triple the rate it charges members to moor, to be aligned with the city's new rates.

Already, it charges $8 per foot of the boat, per month, while the city charges about $2 per foot per month.

The extra cost covers services the club provides, Avery said.

But to get one of the club moorings, a boater has to be a member.

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