Newport Harbor’s newest, largest pier will offer more opportunities for public recreation – Orange County Register

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A new pier at the end of Lower Newport Bay is officially open and will give boaters more opportunities for recreation in an area of the harbor that was previously not as accessible to the public.

On Friday, March 29, city leaders, county officials and representatives from the Irvine Co., which provided funding for the pier in exchange for extending a nearby existing marina, unveiled the new dock that will fit about 11 Duffy-sized boats or several larger vessels.

“We know that this will not only increase opportunities for people to access the inner harbor, but also open a gateway to our city,” Mayor Will O’Neill said. “It will allow more folks to come here, enjoy themselves, and eat and shop local.”

The OC Board of Supervisors approved the project in 2022, under the oversight of the California Coastal Commission, which required the pier because the real estate developer’s marina project added slips that extended into the county tidelands.

Dubbed the Balboa Marina Public Pier, the dock is now the 3-mile-long harbor’s largest public pier and will offer more recreation opportunities in that area of the harbor. The pier is close to nearby restaurants and shops.

The city owns and will maintain the pier; boaters can tie up for free for up to three hours in a day.

The city’s Harbor Commission identified the location as the No. 2 spot among five options where boaters wanted more access. In its survey, the commission sought the amenities boaters most wanted to visit, officials said, which included food and beverage spots, entertainment, provisions for boats, public facilities, such as libraries and post offices, and areas where people can recreate.

Friday’s pier opening makes for 13 docks in the harbor available for public use; a 14th dock that will be able to accommodate two vessels will open at the end of 29th Street by the end of the year, said Paul Blank, the city’s harbormaster.

Based on counts at the launch ramp and visitor reservations made at the Harbor Department, Blank said about 15,000 vessels use the harbor annually.

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