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Newport Harbor’s newest and largest public dock is now open for recreational boaters.

On Friday, March 29 I had the pleasure of joining Newport Beach City Council members along with officials from the County of Orange, the Irvine Company and State Assembly to celebrate the Balboa Marina Public Pier grand opening.

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.

Michele Gile reports from Newport Beach with Seymour Beek, where many are celebrating that the beloved Balboa Island ferry’s fate is no longer in jeopardy after receiving a $7.9 million grant to convert from diesel to zero-emissions operations by 2025.

The 8th Annual Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival will return to the Balboa Yacht Club, June 7 – 8, 2024 with more than 40 wooden vessels of all sizes on display, and a collection of master artisans and craftsmen at work.

This year’s festival theme is “The Art & Craft of the Wooden Boat” in celebration of the creative artistry, intricate craftsmanship, and timeless beauty of wooden boats.
“Event guests will be able to immerse themselves in the centuries-old artform of wooden boat building, and the fine woodworking and artistic details that adorn the boats,” said event chair Stephen Paljieg. “This year’s event will be bigger and better than ever. Its theme captures the essence of the passion and artistry behind these magnificent, one-of-a-kind watercrafts and the inclusion of the master craftsmen who build and keep them in ‘Bristol condition’ takes it to a whole new level of experience.”

2023 was a busy and productive year for the City of Newport Beach, thanks to strong leadership and our extremely professional staff.

We have been working diligently to increase public safety, address quality-of-life issues, and make strategic investments to further improve our great city.

Here’s a look at some of our 2023 successes:

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.

Newport Beach City Council members, joined by state and county elected representatives, held a ceremonial groundbreaking event on Friday, Sept. 15 to kick off construction of the Newport Bay Trash Interceptor, a sustainably powered system to collect floating trash before it enters the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, Newport Harbor and beaches.

Newport Harbor Pirates Cove

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.

Yachts in beautiful Newport Harbor

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.

Burn off over mooring field, Newport harbor, California

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.

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.

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.