THIS IS A REPRINT OF AN EDITORIAL I SENT TO THE DAILY PILOT
At the risk of sounding like I am repeating myself, this issue sounds a lot like the fire-rings issue. The wealthy folks who own property along the bay don't want anyone close to them — or cluttering up the waterway with little tiny floating devices. If they could, they would make this a yachts-only basin. Even a large-yacht-only basin.
Newport Harbor belongs to the people of California to enjoy, not just the people who can afford to buy land along the harbor. Once again, this is about people having fun at a low cost — renting a paddleboard and exploring our harbor that so far they may only have had a chance to glimpse from the Balboa Island Ferry. And yes, those who own land along the waterway will have to put up with the downsides, as well as the upsides. There is no perfect world.
I have not heard of any collisions between paddle boarders and boats. Or between boats and the large number of smaller boats, like dinghys, that the big boat guys need to ferry stuff to their large yachts.
This is a much more likely scenario. We have had explosions of new users before — kayaks, jet skis, sail boarders, etc. I have heard the lines they are using that this needs to happen "before a serious accident" several times.
Fads come and go, and eventually so will this one. The remaining true enthusiasts will then be stuck with these expensive, invasive, unnecessary lanes. We do not need to spend money on lanes that could be outdated in a year or less. Nor a special cordoned off area for beginners.
This would impact someone along the waterway and would benefit those teaching paddle boarding. Next there would be a use tax to use the "beginners" area, and if you didn't use the cordoned off area for a beginner there would be a fine.
And who would determine at what point one stops being a beginner and is then able to use the whole waterway? Who would police the use of this area or these lanes? Police persons on paddleboards? Now there is a vision. We are definitely opening a huge can of worms.
There is plenty of work on the City Council's plate already. The council needs to concentrate on representing all the residents and businesses in Newport Beach. Those who own $1-billion boats, and those who are trying (in this time of recession) to make a few bucks with a new paddleboard business.
There are far more "little people" in Newport Beach, paying taxes in small amounts, but those small amounts add up.
Thank goodness Mayor Nancy Gardner is a paddle boarder; too bad there isn't someone on the council that needs the fire rings.