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Commentary: Imagine a 5-story motorhome in front of your house

August 22, 2013|By Judy Cole

The Aug. 14 decision by the Newport Beach Harbor Commission to allow two mega-yachts — 214 feet and 130 feet, respectively — to moor in the turning basin at the west end of Lido Island is a mistake that we hope will be corrected without a formal appeal ("2 large yachts get OK to anchor," Aug. 16).

While we are not sure whether the commission's approach to the project from the prospective of promoting Newport Harbor as a destination for larger vessels is even in keeping with the purpose of the harbor code, the bigger issue is that the decision appears to fly in the face of harbor regulations, ordinances and tidelands trust requirements.

We have nothing but respect for the commission and appreciate its contribution, but there seems to be a complete disregard for the impact on residents, the surrounding neighborhood and other users of the bay. We are also bothered by the fact that all three members of the subcommittee that recommended approval to the commission apparently have personal relationships with the ships' owners or crew members.

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We are concerned that the approval was given to the ships' owners without an application or permit. This seems improper in itself, but the installation of a mooring buoy is being allowed, and this requires a permit per Section 17.25 of the Newport Beach Harbor Code.

Another concern is that the turning basin at the west end of Lido Island is not an approved anchorage as established by the federal government or by the City Council as required by Section 17.05.070 of the harbor code. Section 17.25 prohibits anchoring anywhere except within designated areas.

The Harbor Commission does not have the authority to establish an anchorage — only to recommend it to the council — and to our knowledge this was not done. The 72-hour stay limit per the harbor code is also being ignored. While Harbor Resources has the authority to extend the limit, what particular circumstances would suggest that these ships deserve an extension of time? And why do these luxury vessels deserve more consideration than the average visiting boat?

What justifies residents, businesses and users of the bay having their views spoiled and access limited for two months by a vessel wider than most lots on the bay and longer and taller than any of the homes or buildings in the surrounding area?

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