On the Harbor: offshore mooring leases, a hot topic

By LEN BOSE

The hot topic around the harbor has been the proposed offshore mooring increase; on the other side of the spectrum has been our mid-winter conditions on the harbor with a dim light showing at the end of the tunnel.

I attended the special Harbor Commission meeting on February 1 regarding the proposed increase to offshore mooring. With a rough estimate of 100 people in attendance, on arriving I scanned the faces in the crowd, looking for people I recognized and respected for their opinions. As the topic was presented by the Harbor Commission to the public, rather than getting lost in all the big words and review of data, I watched the people that I respected looking for their reaction, how long they would stay at the meeting, and any comments they wished to present. Within the crowd there were many new faces. I spotted 10 people that I wanted to observe during the meeting, one of them was my publisher from Stu News, Tom Johnson.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Len Bose

Upper Newport Bay channel markers

Keep in mind, I am not a true journalist. I consider myself more as a seat-in-the-pants sailor describing the approaching weather. My observations on this night started with Harbor Commission Vice Chair Ira Beer reviewing the history of mooring rates within our harbor then reviewing the appraisal of Netzer & Associates for offshore mooring, followed by the Harbor Commission’s sub-committee recommendations. This is where I missed a wind shift. On entering the meeting, I was taken back by the attendance and was scanning the crowd rather than paying closer attention to Beer’s comments. I recall hearing the proposed increase and that it would be implemented over time rather than as one lump sum increase.

Looking over the crowd, I found the person that I told myself I would call the following day. This person is a mooring permit holder and stayed at the meeting longer than I did. I followed up the next day and listened to their side of the story. I could have countered their opinion with my observations, but I decided for the first time in my life just to listen to this person’s concerns. They made a clear and very strong argument regarding the appraisal recommendation that was grossly over estimated, and at the same time indicated that the mooring permit fees are undervalued at this time.

To quote my source: “The moorings have been mismanaged for as long as I can remember by the city. To just drop down a huge rate increase to fix the problem with one price increase is just unethical.”

Now this argument rang a bell – I realized I should have been raising the rent of a house I own annually rather than with one large increase to bring it to market value. I had mismanaged the property, so it would take me many years to bring it to market rate. There are many arguments for this comparison with the mooring permits, but my gut tells me this is how the increase should be implemented with a slight increase over a long period of time.

In my example, I was fortunate that my renters moved to Texas. This allowed me to increase my rent to market value; maybe this example might be the format of some type of compromise. Keep in mind after my renter had moved out, there were many upgrades to my home that I had to complete before asking the market rate. What I am getting at is that I am sure there are many improvements that should be made within the harbor for the mooring permit holders.

This Wednesday night, February 14 is the next Harbor Commission meeting, where this topic is on the agenda. I am quite sure I will not attend this meeting because not being at home with my wife on Valentine’s Day for dinner will differently increase the rent at my house. This issue definitely has a resemblance to an arrow piercing a heart let’s just strive to keep a long-lasting relationship.

• • •

For all you boat owners, make sure you have inspected your boats recently. I have never pumped out more water out of my Harbor 20 than I did this last Sunday (Feb. 11). Last week, I called my good friend Harbormaster Paul Blank to request help to pump out one of my Duffy listings that the bilge pump had gone out. The boat was not at risk of sinking; I just asked a friend to help me out and a couple of minutes later a patrol boat stopped by to assist me in emptying out the water from the boat. That is the dim light at the end of the tunnel I referred to at the top of my story. I have long been bringing up the topic that many of our channel markers are not lit up at night. The other day I noticed that someone took it upon themselves and placed lights onto some of our channel markers that are desperately in need of illumination. A Bravo/Zulu is in order to whomever completed this task.

Sea ya.

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Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.

Editor’s Note: The next Harbor Commission meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. at City Council Chambers. For the Agenda and related Staff Reports on the lease mooring issue, go here. The Review of Appraisal and Discussion of Rental Rates for Mooring Permits is listed as 6.1 under Current Business.

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