Newport Beach paddle boarders don’t need special lanes or rules but could benefit from educational outreach, the city’s Harbor Commissioners decided at a meeting this week.
Commissioner Paul Blank made a presentation at the Wednesday meeting, which included information about a 1964 municipal code that prohibits crafts in the harbor entrance, according to a handout included in the meeting’s online agenda packet.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any paddleboard, kayak, pedalo, life raft or similar type of craft used for the transportation of persons in any portion of the main channel or entrance channel of Newport Harbor…” the city code states.
However, the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol division enforces this rule and does so in a common-sense way, so if paddle boarders are acting safely, they are generally allowed to cross the channel.
The commissioners decided no changes are needed in paddle boarding regulations. But at the group’s next meeting in January, they hope to have a plan for an outreach/educational program, paid for by the City for paddle boarders. The program could include brochures explaining paddle boarding rules in the harbor, which would be distributed in rental locations.
The safety of stand-up paddle boarding in the main and side channels of the harbor was first raised at a September meeting by City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, who suggested that designated paddle board lanes might improve safety for paddle boarders as well as other groups that use the harbor. Mayor Nancy Gardner (who is a stand-up paddle boarder and recently hosted a Paddle With the Mayor event) said she would not be in favor of such specialized lanes, and ultimately the City Council decided that the Harbor Commission should examine the issue and recommend whether lanes should be pursued or not.