Entries by David Badajoz

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Balboa Island Ferry on Verge of Shutdown

Siyamak sits down with Seymour Beek, president of Balboa Island Ferry, one of Southern California’s oldest family-owned businesses. Today he will discuss the new rules in California aimed at reducing emissions and how they will impact small businesses.

“CARB made a rule that all short run fairies in California had to be zero emission by 2026. We consume an average of 26 gallons of fuel a day. You’re not gonna save the world by making us go zero emission,” Mr. Beek said. “They haven’t really examined the consequences of the rules they’re making. It’s extremely challenging, extremely expensive.”

Emergency Preparedness

The fires in Maui and Hurricane Idalia in Florida serve as recent reminders that disasters can strike at any time. Throughout September, which has been designated as National Preparedness Month, the City of Newport Beach will highlight some of our emergency preparedness tools and practices, along with educational resources for residents to become better prepared.

If you are new to emergency planning, or could use a refresher, a great place to start is the “Newport Beach Ready” Emergency Preparedness Guide produced by our Fire Department. The guide contains critical information on water and food storage, building an emergency kit, evacuation checklists, basic first aid, animal preparedness, and tips on what to do in specific events.

Water Quality Monitors

Newport Beach, known for its pristine beaches and picturesque harbors, has long been committed to preserving its natural resources. To further increase the City’s ability to monitor and maintain water quality in Newport Harbor, the City’s Harbor Department recently deployed two state-of-the-art water quality sensing buoys, or DataPods, in the harbor.

Coastal Cleanup Day

The Newport Bay Conservancy is hosting Coastal Cleanup Day at Upper Newport Bay on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Volunteers will meet at a dozen different mini-cleanup day sites around the 11-mile bay including the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, Newport Aquatic Center, Big Canyon, Vista Point, Jamboree Bridge, etc. Exact meeting location will be announced and sent to everyone (group leaders) prior to Sept. 21.

Balboa Ferry’s Future

The Balboa Island Ferry, one of our most iconic Newport Beach tourism experiences, could be no more.

If that sounds dramatic, it is. I can’t imagine our city without the ferry, but unless something is done, this treasured piece of our city could be gone in less than two years.

Thousands of locals and visitors use the ferry every year and it’s a vital part of our culture and history. It is part of what makes us Newport Beach, and in my mind, it is as important as our beaches. But all of that is now threatened and could be lost.

Flight of Newport Beach Results

More than 70 boats competed in the 87th Annual Flight of Newport Beach, presented by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Balboa Yacht Club.

Initially known as the Flight of the Snowbirds and later the Flight of the Lasers, the Flight of Newport had three different classes of boats racing to circumvent Newport Harbor.

Trash Interceptor Update

“I am pleased to report that a long-awaited water quality project, the Newport Bay Trash Interceptor, was approved this week by the Newport Beach City Council.”

On Tuesday, July 11, the City Council awarded a $3.9 million construction contract to Brea-based Jilk Heavy Construction, Inc. We expect to break ground this fall and begin operations in 2024.

The Trash Interceptor is a sustainably powered, floating trash and debris collection system that will be built in the San Diego Creek between the Jamboree Road Bridge and MacArthur Boulevard Bridge, upstream from the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.

Flight of Newport Beach

If you’re out and about on Newport Harbor on Sunday afternoon, July 16, you may see dozens of sailboats racing around the harbor. Give them plenty of room and cheer them on—it’s the 87th Annual Flight of Newport Beach, presented by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Balboa Yacht Club.

Ben Did Go

It’s hard to believe that Thursday, July 6 will mark nine years since the passing of Newport Beach Lifeguard Ben Carlson. He was special to so many people, as his unexpected and untimely death would prove.

On that Sunday, in 2014, shortly after 5 p.m., a Newport Beach rescue boat identified a swimmer in distress off 16th Street. The surf at the time was six-to-eight feet.

Ben, as everyone knew, entered the water to make that rescue and swam to the man, making contact, before they were both hit by an unexpected large wave. The swimmer Ben was attempting to rescue was successfully pulled from the water, but Ben was not.

Heal the Bay Report Card

Newport Beach scored high marks during the summer season in the 33rd Annual Heal the Bay Beach Report Card, released Wednesday, June 14.

Of the 36 Newport Beach bay and ocean testing sites listed in the report, 32 earned an A or A+ during the summer season, when the beaches are most frequented. Four sites earned a B grade. Heal the Bay’s annual report measures bacterial pollution for more than 700 West Coast beaches, from Washington to Baja, ranking them and grading their water quality from A to F.

Coastkeeper suit delays confined aquatic disposal facility

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) has halted the dredging of Lower Newport Bay and construction authorization for the City of Newport Beach’s (the city’s) Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) facility. The Corps put things on hold after Orange County Coastkeeper (Coastkeeper) filed a lawsuit challenging their failure to fully analyze actions possibly violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Speak Up Newport Hosts Meeting on New Mooring Plan June 14

On May 23, the City Council approved a pilot program to change the harbor mooring fields configuration and approved changes to the Harbor Code to accommodate the proposed pilot program and the long-term plan for all the moorings in the harbor.

Speak Up Newport is hosting a meeting on Wednesday, June 14 to discuss the mooring plan with guest speaker Bill Kenney, the former Harbor Commission Chair. He will describe the Harbor Commission’s Open Water Initiative and the reasons for the changes to the mooring fields.
The valves, which were built in the 1970s to replace a system from the early 1900s, are necessary to prevent flooding in low-lying areas. They are manually operated, and need to be closed during high tides to prevent seawater from flooding the streets. Once the tide recedes, crews reopen the valves — nearly 90 in total — to allow water to flow from streets to the bay.

Mooring Field Reconfiguration

City Council this week unanimously approved a pilot project, called the open water initiative, related to mooring field design.

Councilmembers voted 7-0 on Tuesday (May 23) in support of the ordinance that would amend Title 17 (the city’s harbor code) related to mooring standards and permits. The approved action, stemming from Harbor Commission recommendations, will reconfigure mooring field C, which sits between Bay Island and the Balboa Peninsula ferry station.

Rain to Rubbish

March showers have given way to April flowers. The recent storms left in their wake perfect conditions throughout Southern California for thriving vegetation – a super bloom resulting in lush landscapes carpeted with abundant wildflowers.

The storms also replenished many of our major water supply reservoirs and significantly refilled our groundwater basin, resulting in higher-than-average levels compared to many years when these resources remained in limited supply indefinitely.

These same storms have another, less favorable effect on our community, as Newport Beach is at the end of the water “pipe” when it comes to trash and debris flow.

Historic Balboa Island Ferry May Close Due to State Emissions Requirements

Newport Beach has a handful of iconic attractions that have stood the test of time: The Newport Pier, which replaced the original McFadden Wharf (1888-1939) and is registered as a California Historical Landmark; the Balboa Pavilion, which opened on July 1, 1906 and is the city’s oldest standing building; and the Balboa Island Ferry, which went into service in 1919 to bring cars and passengers across 900 feet of water between Balboa Island and the Balboa Fun Zone.

Legal challenges loom as plans to dredge Newport Harbor

All permits are in place for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge channels in Lower Newport Bay and bury any contaminated sediment in a massive underwater pit at the heart of Newport Harbor.

But the project is now facing multiple legal challenges that could slow it down or thwart it entirely, as resident and environmental groups that tried to block those permits cite ongoing concerns over risks to marine life and bay contamination.

State agency issues mandate that could sink the ferry operation

The Balboa Island Ferry, one of our most iconic Newport Beach tourism experiences, could be no more.

If that sounds dramatic, it is. I can’t imagine our city without the ferry, but unless something is done, this treasured piece of our city could be gone in less than two years.

Thousands of locals and visitors use the ferry every year and it’s a vital part of our culture and history. It is part of what makes us Newport Beach, and in my mind, it is as important as our beaches. But all of that is now threatened and could be lost.

New Marine Trash Skimmer

Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation North Orange County Chapter recently presented the City with a generous donation of $12,415 toward the purchase and installation of a new marine trash skimmer for Newport Harbor. The donation will be used to offset the $18,000 cost of a new trash skimmer that will replace an older, broken skimmer located at the Rhine Wharf public dock.

Rainstorm Cleanup

This week I’d like to recognize critical, often unsung members of our City team who perform a vital service during rainstorms: the Utilities Department crews that pump storm water and operate the tide valves on Balboa Island and the Peninsula.

The valves, which were built in the 1970s to replace a system from the early 1900s, are necessary to prevent flooding in low-lying areas. They are manually operated, and need to be closed during high tides to prevent seawater from flooding the streets. Once the tide recedes, crews reopen the valves — nearly 90 in total — to allow water to flow from streets to the bay.

Balboa Marina and Public Docks Get Final OK

In some ways, on some days, we all live trashy lives.

Even an inadvertently dropped gum wrapper via the forces of gravity, wind, and water runoff finds itself in company with all manner of discarded detritus heading to our oceans and beaches.

Trash is strictly a human byproduct. Just walk Newport’s sands after a crowded summer day. Or stand by the outflow of the Santa Ana River, or the entrance to the Upper Bay estuary post-storm to witness the “flood” of trash tangled in broken foliage washed downstream, to either float offshore, rest on our beaches or become locked in the life-giving vegetation of the Back Bay.

The Trashy Side of Newport Beach

In some ways, on some days, we all live trashy lives.

Even an inadvertently dropped gum wrapper via the forces of gravity, wind, and water runoff finds itself in company with all manner of discarded detritus heading to our oceans and beaches.

Trash is strictly a human byproduct. Just walk Newport’s sands after a crowded summer day. Or stand by the outflow of the Santa Ana River, or the entrance to the Upper Bay estuary post-storm to witness the “flood” of trash tangled in broken foliage washed downstream, to either float offshore, rest on our beaches or become locked in the life-giving vegetation of the Back Bay.

The Facts Behind the City’s Dredging Project and In-Harbor Sediment Plan

The California Coastal Commission is preparing to consider permitting plans for an important Newport Harbor dredging project. The City of Newport Beach would like to remind residents about the critical need for this project and clarify key topics, including the rigorous environmental analysis that supports the proposal.

Dredging Newport Harbor is critical to maintain safe navigation and a well-functioning harbor. Over the past several decades, sediment has washed down into Newport Bay and accumulated at the bottom of Newport Harbor, which reduces water depths, impedes navigation and diminishes natural tidal flushing. Periodic dredging of Newport Harbor is essential to maintain safe, navigable waterways for recreational, commercial and public safety vessels; increase necessary ocean water flushing to support good water quality and habit and support the economic vitality of the harbor. In total, the project will dredge and remove about 1.2 million cubic yards of accumulated sediment, therefore returning the waterways to their original depths of -10 to -20 feet. Without dredging, sediment will continue to build up, making navigation more difficult and dangerous and decrease tidal flushing, leading to more stagnant water conditions.

Misstatements and Facts

To Residents, Yachtsmen and Newport Harbor Users:

The City of Newport Beach has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers for several years on a significant dredging project that will bring Newport Harbor to its authorized design depth which will enhance water quality, allow the bay to properly flush thus eliminating the need to dredge again for many years, remove some unsuitable materials that are lying on the floor of the bay today, and provide for the long term navigability of our harbor.

The Newport Beach City Council certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in May 2021 and directed staff to proceed with securing permits for the project. The EIR is posted on the City’s website here.

The Newport Harbor Foundation has learned that there are a few in the community that are spreading spurious misinformation about the project and the Newport Harbor Foundation believes that it is important that presenting those interested in the dredging project be provided with the facts.

A Letter To The State of California Regional Water Quality Control Board

Chairman Murray and Members of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board:

My name is Dennis Durgan and I serve as Chairman of the Newport Harbor Foundation. The Foundation was founded in 2019 for the purpose of preserving, protecting and enhancing Newport Harbor for the benefit of the City of Newport Beach, the homeowners on or near the bay, the commercial operators in the bay, and the recreational users of the bay. The Foundation’s founders, contributors, and members are made up of individuals and business who have a long history of using and enjoying the harbor and a vested interest in its enhancement and preservation for use by current and future generations. On behalf the Foundation and its Board of Directors, I am reaching out to you to express our support for the currently pending project for dredging of Newport Harbor and construction of the confined aquatic disposal (CAD) site.

IMPORTANT: California Water Board

Hello friends of the Newport Harbor Foundation,

There is an urgent issue we need a little help with… something that impacts one of our favorite local playgrounds – the Newport Harbor.

After years of lobbying the federal government for help, the City of Newport Beach has obtained grants of almost $16 million to pay for dredging of the harbor which will significantly enhance the quality of water and create safer boat passage in the harbor. Along with the dredging process, there is a process called CAD (contained aquatic disposal) which places unsuitable material now existing in the harbor into a safe and secure location deep below the harbor bed. This process is totally safe and has been used for many years all over the country, including harbors in California.