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From The Boathouse: Some bad news for boaters

July 19, 2012|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

The California Department of Boating and Waterways is now a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

This repositioning will negatively affect boaters, boating infrastructure, on-the-water law enforcement, and boating education. The move by the governor to change the department is merely a grab for the dedicated funds — not general fund dollars — paid by the boaters and fishermen.

The tens of millions of dollars paid annually to the former department can now potentially be siphoned away for other purposes, which would neglect the intended purpose of the funds for boating uses. Following an outcry from boaters, Assembly members Joan Buchanan (D-San Ramon) and Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) introduced a bill, AB737, to resurrect the Boating and Waterways Commission, which the governor signed.

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By resurrecting the commission, this may help protect the boaters' special funds, and save the various boating and waterways' programs. However, I expect over time to see more money from the dedicated funds diverted to the Parks and Recreation Department, as approximately $25 million annual has already been redirected there. This does affect our local boating infrastructure with education, pump-out facilities, and possible funding for a Marina Park project.

I remember first mentioning the Marina Park project in early 2005, when former Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner John Corrough gave a report at a marine meeting. He concluded that Marina Park is the public's last remaining open bay front property by saying, "just look at the name of the property – Marina and Park."

So, finally, Marina Park maybe coming to fruition with the Coastal Commission and the city working out the final details of the lighthouse structure's height. However, is a non-functioning lighthouse important to the project or to boaters in Newport Harbor? Nope, and the funds saved from not constructing the faux lighthouse could be used to make the exterior of the proposed building look more inviting and nautical.

You can transplant the building depicted in the rendering to anywhere in Irvine, and it would fit in perfectly. This is just a generic-looking commercial building with a sail-like sloping roof, lots of glass, cold hard exterior finish, and no charm or compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood and harbor.

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