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Commission takes up mega-yacht debate in Newport Harbor

August 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Harbor Commission is looking into whether to allow so-called mega-yachts to anchor in Newport Beach.

Typically, yachts in Newport Harbor are 20 to 80 feet. But what about boats double or triple that size?

"This is not a place for huge ships," said Judy Rosener of Newport Beach. "There are children, we swim, we sail."

A subcommittee has reviewed two requests - one by real estate developer Rick Caruso to bring his 216-foot yacht called Invictus down from Washington state to use Newport Harbor as its home port from Aug. 26 until the end of October.

Another owner would also like to bring his 130-foot yacht called Marama for five days in September during the Lido Boat Show.

"I think it's a good thing," said Barry Wood with Heritage Yacht Sales. "Anything that can bring more traffic down into the Newport areas, and to sponsor something like that to help the show, I think it's a great thing."

The subcommittee's recommendation would allow the yachts to moor in the Lido turning basin near the west end of Lido Isle. Both boats would not be allowed to anchor there at the same time.

Some residents, however, say allowing two mega yachts will lead the way for more big boats to anchor here, eventually changing the feel of the community.

"I'm outraged. I've lived on Lido for 55 years. This has been a wonderful place to live for children, community. This is not a place for huge yachts. If you want to do it, do it in Los Angeles Harbor or San Pedro," said Rosener.

Others say the size of the boats is nothing to worry about.

"This harbor is pretty big. Anytime you bring in a big ship or a big boat in the harbor, once they anchor it, people are going to get around it. It's a good thing, absolutely," said Wood.

If the Harbor Commission approves the plan, the first of the yachts could drop anchor in the harbor in less than two weeks. The commission was expected to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Eyewitness News reached out to Rick Caruso. He had no comment.

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