At least two residents of Newport Beach, California want the local harbor commission to rescind permission for two megayachts to anchor in the newly dredged waterfront.
According to a story in the Daily Pilot newspaper, the residents, who live in waterfront homes, believe the yachts—the 123-foot (37.6-meter) Marama and 216-foot (66-meter) Invictus (pictured)—will be too bright at night and noisy, plus emit genset fumes. They also believe that the harbor will become dangerous for those who regularly use it for kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, and more. “This is just a trial, they keep assuring us of that,” Pamela Whitesides, one of the residents appealing the decision, is quoted as saying. “But it’s a trial to make it permanent.”
The Newport Beach Harbor Commission states that the owners of Marama and Invictus (coincidentally both built by Delta Marine) requested permission separately from one another, for different dates. Marama’s owner reportedly wants to stay in the harbor for five days, during which a wedding will be held aboard. Invictus’ owner reportedly received permission for a 16-day spread over two months. The commission approved the megayacht owners’ requests in a 5-1 vote earlier this month, with the dissenter stating she did not believe enough information or time to review details was given. The rest of the commissioners believe granting permission is the first step in helping make the harbor more accessible. “We think it’s just an opportunity to see how this works, and perhaps in the future we’ll find a way to accommodate a large boat every now and then,” says Brad Avery, the harbor commissioner.
While Newport Beach does not have full facilities to accommodate megayachts long term, the move to accommodate them on occasion would not be without cause. The specific area where the megayachts will be, the Balboa Peninsula, is known for restaurants, good beaches, bars and nightlife, and more. In addition, just last October, California passed a bill to encourage megayacht tourism.
Residents wishing the commission to review the decision have until August 28 to contact council members. Judy Cole, a neighbor of Whitesides and who is working with her in this regard, is further upset with how the two megayachts are being permitted to anchor outside of designated areas and for longer periods. “The commissioners overstepped their bounds,” she tells the newspaper. “Why do these vessels get the extension of time versus the average visiting boat?”
UPDATE, AUGUST 29, 2013: The harbor commission did not reverse its decision, and the two megayachts therefore remain permitted to visit Newport Harbor as requested.