Volume 8, Issue 44  |  June 2, 2023Subscribe

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Council to consider open water initiative for mooring fields, ordinance requiring short-term lodging owners to reinvest in property, fee study


Tonight's Newport Beach City Council meeting includes a variety of interesting items.

At tonight's meeting, (Tuesday, May 23), council will consider: A pilot project, called the open water initiative, related to mooring field design; code amendment related to reinvestment and improvements of short-term lodging units; the 2022-23 fee study update and converting the Boardwalk Ambassador Program to a different name.

During the first item of current business, council will consider a pilot project, called the open water initiative, related to mooring field design. The recommendation from the Harbor Commission is to reconfigure mooring field C to improve navigation safety and to optimize space. The project would appropriate $75,000 for consulting services and permitting with the California Coastal Commission and other agencies, $275,000 for engineering and construction related to the realignment of the moorings in the subject pilot project, and $60,000 for post-pilot project consulting services for environmental review and permitting necessary to expand the reconfiguration recommendations to the city’s remaining mooring fields.

Since taking over the responsibility for administration of the moorings in 2017, the harbor department has received requests to extend the permitted length of several offshore moorings. According to the staff report, the city doesn’t have an effective, objective method for review and approval of such requests. The results were a disorganized arrangement of moorings of various sizes throughout the mooring fields. A Harbor Commission subcommittee was formed and worked on recommendations for improvements to the mooring field utilization and a process to accommodate requests from permittees to adjust the size of their permitted moorings. The subcommittee’s focus included ensuring safe navigation for all users of the harbor in and around the mooring fields, not just the mooring permittees. Other considerations included:

–Grouping vessels of similar size in the same row for the most efficient use of the limited space within each mooring field and potentially opening space for improved navigation and additional moorings.

–Ensuring the fairways between the rows provide for safe navigation even in adverse conditions.

–Acknowledging that fairways between rows are considered navigable water for all mariners, not just the mooring permittees.

–Providing staff and the community with guidance for mooring extension and size exchange requests.

–Maximizing the use of space within the mooring fields in the most effective manner possible.

–The opportunity to utilize space freed up by the more efficient arrangement within the fields to increase open water for all harbor users and add a small number of new moorings.

Council to consider open water initiative mooring field

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Len Bose

Council will consider the open water initiative related to mooring design

Over the last several months, several public hearings were held to discuss the issue, as well as stakeholder meetings and a work session hosted by the Newport Mooring Association. At the March 8 meeting, the Harbor Commission approved several recommendations, which will: Allow more efficient arrangement of the offshore moorings; open waterways on three of four sides for each moored vessel; open waterways between rows within the mooring fields; open waterways on the boundary edges of the mooring fields and create a process by which requests for mooring length extensions can be effectively accomplished without compromising the efficient arrangement of moorings within a field. The recommendations also suggest some clean-up and clarification language to the code, as well as revisions to the section that defines the conditions in which a mooring size exchange or extension within a row designated for larger moorings can be requested by a permittee.

According to the staff report, the pilot project consists of reconfiguring the C mooring field to double-row moorings, replacing existing single-row moorings and that boats of like sizes be consolidated into the same row(s). To allow for testing of the new layout and for making any necessary adjustments, only one or two rows will be reconfigured initially. The fully completed reconfiguration will include regular inspections from harbor department staff as well as interviews with affected permittees and other stakeholders. The relocation of moorings and permittees for the first one or two rows is estimated to take two weeks. Subsequently, the full reconfiguration of the remaining rows in the C field would take approximately 30 days.

The new double-row mooring system would be in the same location and serve the same purpose as the moorings being replaced. The reconfiguration would result in a meaningful increase in open water space within and immediately adjacent to the mooring field, staff noted in the report. The double-row mooring arrangement allows better utilization of the available area within the mooring field, grouping of like-sized boats together, more open space between/abreast of boats moored in the same row, and expanded, more well-defined fairways between the double-rows.

Staff notes that the more efficient use of the space within the mooring field provides mooring permittees with more room to maneuver in three of four directions onto and off their moorings, and other mariners significantly more well-defined pathways through the field, plus allows for the addition of several new moorings. The double-row mooring arrangement will reduce the footprint occupied by boats within the mooring field and increase navigable waterways both within and adjacent to the existing mooring field boundaries.

Also during regular business, council will consider a code amendment related to reinvestment and improvements of short-term lodging units.

If approved, the ordinance would require STL owners to reinvest and improve their units at least once every three years. The owners would have to reinvest a minimum of 10% of the rent collected from a lodging unit over the preceding three years back into the unit as improvements. For purposes of the ordinance, “improvements” means structural and/or facade maintenance or repairs, including but not limited to finishes and fixtures, along with landscape and associated maintenance or repair to the exterior or interior of a lodging unit. Recognizing the large investment required by new construction, newly constructed lodging units are exempt from this reinvestment requirement for the first five years following receipt of a certificate of occupancy from the city.

These new reinvestment requirements are intended to ensure that visitors to the city experience a high-level guest experience and that residential neighborhoods are not burdened by unkept short-term lodging units, according to the staff report.

Short-term lodging permit applicants would self-certify their compliance with these reinvestment requirements as part of their annual permit renewal process.

Earlier in the meeting, during the only public hearing of the night, council will consider approving fiscal year 2022-23 fee study update.

The city’s consultant, ClearSource Financial Consulting, updated the fees in the community development, fire and police departments, following a cost recovery analysis. ClearSource met with city staff from each studied department to discuss the services provided, the annual volume for those services, and the staff resources and time estimates for delivering the related services. To factor in both direct and indirect costs, ClearSource calculates the department staff’s fully burdened hourly rate, which includes both internal administrative as well as citywide overhead costs, according to the staff report.

The community development department was last studied in FY 2019-20. Prior to that study, in 2016, CDD converted valuation-based residential construction permits and selected deposit-based planning permits to flat fees. There are no changes proposed to this flat fee structure with this current study. Although in the building division cover costs associated with plan review, permitting and construction inspection for new and remodeled buildings and other structures. The existing permit extension fee was clarified to include permit and plan check extensions. While staff is not proposing any new fees, the fees proposed reflect an approximate 3% increase to align the fees with the city’s current cost of providing these services. The fees proposed reflect an approximately 5% increase to align the fees with the city’s current cost of providing certain services (like review of development projects, condition compliance and counter permits). Adjustments vary depending on the specific fee category.

Under the fire department, staff is recommending the increase of two primary fees in the emergency medical services division: Advanced life support and basic life support, with transport, is proposed to increase by 2% to align both transport fees with the current cost of providing these services. Staff is also proposing to increase the paramedic subscription program fee from $60 to $84 per year, which results in a net increase of $2 per month, from the current $5 to $7. There are also some new fees related to fire prevention inspections.

For the police department, a majority of the recommendations are for minor inflationary adjustments, typically amounting to $10 or less, to align the fees with the current cost of providing these services. Under the animal control division, there are several new proposed fees, including: An adoption fee for a senior dog and a senior cat at $70; miscellaneous animal inspection services to cover instances where inspections are court ordered; a $200 owner turn-in fee for an unaltered animal (which is double the altered animal turn-in fee); and a new $248 fee for a declared dangerous animal for the staff time to conduct inspections, evaluate and permit, and maintain the record related to animals that are declared dangerous by the court.

Earlier in the meeting, on the consent calendar (items considered routine and usually voted in one motion without discussion unless a councilmember pulls the item), council will consider converting the Boardwalk Ambassador Program to Boardwalk and Quality of Life Enforcement Program. The Boardwalk Ambassador Program uses contracted services from Contemporary Services Corporation and is currently funded at $200,000 per fiscal year. The new program will use the existing funding to deploy police officers and parking control officers on overtime to work directed enforcement assignments dealing with boardwalk safety issues and quality-of-life issues throughout the city. The existing contract with CSC will be cancelled in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

Also on the consent calendar, council will consider the second reading of code amendments related to timeshares regarding fractional homeownership. The change will modify the definition of time share to clearly include fractional ownership units. As a timeshare use, fractional homeownership would be prohibited in all residential zoning districts and only allowed in certain commercial and mixed-use zoning districts subject to existing timeshare regulations.

Councilmembers unanimously supported the item during the first discussion on May 9. Council approved the staff-recommended action to define timeshare plan to mean “any arrangement, plan, scheme, or similar device” that limits the owner to the right for “exclusive use of real property, or any portion thereof” for “less than a full year during any given year, on a recurring basis for more than one year.” This means the use of any real property in which an owner has exclusive use of said property for less than the full year would be classified as a time share. It was specifically crafted to capture the fractional homeownership model, staff emphasized. It does not restrict the fractional ownership of the property, but rather it would apply to the use of the property, which is within the city’s zoning powers.

The council agenda is available online here. The study session will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the closed session, and then the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting can be watched live on the local NBTV channel (Spectrum 3 or Cox 852) or on the city’s website here.

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers (there is not a remote or online option to participate).

Questions and comments can be submitted in writing for City Council consideration by sending them to the city clerk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To give the council adequate time to review comments, written comments were submitted by 5 p.m. on May 22 (the day before the City Council meeting). Correspondence received by this deadline were uploaded to the agenda packet by May 22 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed here.

Material received after the deadline and prior to 2 p.m. today (the day of the meeting) will be provided to the council in hard copy and will be available to the public at the meeting.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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