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Grand Jury Question Mooring Practices

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Newport may have to change the way mooring permits are transferred.

NEWPORT BEACH - City officials may make adjustments in the way mooring permits are transferred between owners, after the Orange County Grand Jury announced the city needs to reinstate proper regulations and procedures in a May 10 report.

The report discussed how the city charges less than fair market rent for the moorings (the last assessment of the value of mooring permit fees was 10 years ago) and expressed concern with a legal loophole that many residents use to sell their moorings.

"Selling a mooring is illegal, but a loophole exists whereby a mooring permit holder may sell the boat on that mooring, and the vessel's new owner is then able to transfer the mooring permit into his or her own name," the reported stated. "Over the years, this has developed into a fine art, with small and/or derelict boats selling at vastly inflated prices."

While a mooring permit can only be held in the name of one person and the permit cannot be placed under a company's name, the Grand Jury found that some exceptions have been made for a few yacht clubs in the area.

There are currently 1,235 moorings in the harbor. Two private clubs - one of which maintains 100 offshore moorings, and a second one that maintains 75 - are holding mooring permits, which goes against current city ordinances.

As a result of the findings, the Grand Jury called for the city to tighten the permit procedure, create an effective waiting list, re-establish the original mooring boundaries, and review the inclusion of yacht clubs and trusts as mooring permittees.

While the city does not have to adhere to the changes the committee suggested, they are required to respond to the recommendations.

"We will meet in the next couple days to try and make sense of it," said Chris Miller of the Newport Beach Harbor Resources Department.

The city is expected to have a response in the next few weeks.

To view the report visit, www.ocgrandjury.org/pdfs/newportharbormoorings.pdf.

Copyright 2007 The Log Newspaper