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A mixed report on the state of Newport's piers  

February 26, 2014|By Emily Foxhall
  • The eleven public piers in Newport Beach were reviewed by the Harbor Commission, which recommended more diligent upkeep.
The eleven public piers in Newport Beach were reviewed… (Illustration by…)

The restoration of public piers is underway in Newport Harbor, and new piers may be coming soon.

Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank offered a presentation on the state of Newport Beach's piers during the council study session Tuesday based on a recently completed report by a commission subcommittee.

He said the city does not maintain each of its 11 public piers along the harbor shoreline as well as it could and suggested that better upkeep would draw more people to them.

Some piers — such as the newest at Rhine Wharf — are well-used, Blank added, but not all.

Configuration, location and upkeep all contribute to better usage, he said the Harbor Commission report found.

More cleaning, maintenance and dredging would benefit the piers most, Blank said.

The report recommended reconfiguring some docks in order to make better use of the available space. An adopt-a-dock program might also help, Blank suggested, as would the addition of restrooms, bike racks and electricity.

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In its review, the commission further identified possible locations where additional piers might thrive. Based on

the amenities desired by boaters when they come ashore,

restaurants, bars and entertainment ranked highest, followed by places to get provisions like groceries and marine hardware.

Based on this information, the subcommittee identified areas ideal for future piers: Lido Marina Village, Balboa Marina, Lower Castaways, the northwest base of Lido Isle Bridge and a location with access to West Coast Highway.

"I think your potential locations are virtually spot-on," said Councilman Ed Selich, a Duffy boat owner.

The Harbor Commission decided to study the piers in the summer of 2012. The Harbor Commission adopted the subcommittee's recommendations in October 2013.

Newport Beach has already begun to refurbish older piers with new decking, handrails and finials, which are the typically blue-and-white decorative pieces installed by the city on top of poles.

They are cleaned every Monday and Friday, and deep cleaned quarterly, or as needed, said Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller.

A budget of $400,000 for this year has been set aside for public pier maintenance, Miller said.

Mayor Rush Hill promised to work with staff to ensure that at least two piers are built before the end of the year.

The cost of constructing a public pier can vary, depending on the materials used.

Miller said the 100-foot Rhine Wharf dock cost more than $230,000, explaining that the number includes an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant aluminum gangway but not permit and pre-constructions costs.

Also at the study session, the Southern California Gas Co. presented plans to add radio technology to its meters.

The addition would allow customers to see their gas usage a day later, with hourly information provided, said the company's public affairs manager, Jennifer Vaughn.

The radio installation would not disrupt service, but it requires the installation throughout the city of data-collection units that weigh 55 pounds and are mounted on poles at least 24 feet high.

"Here in Newport Beach, to my knowledge, in our residential areas, you can't just go out and set a pole," Councilwoman Leslie Daigle said.

Discussion about the locations for the poles will continue between Southern California Gas and the city.

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