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As Parade Boycott Looms, City Postpones Dock Rent Hikes

Residents packed council chambers, and some threatened to boycott the Christmas boat parade if the City Council increases dock fees. The council decided to hold off on a vote.

After more than two hours of passionate pleas and debate from Newport Beach residents, the city council voted Wednesday to postpone its vote on proposed rent hikes affecting 1,200 residential docks. Still, a boycott of the annual Christmas boat parade is still on the horizon because of the proposed increase.

At the special meeting, council members were scheduled to vote on changes to residential dock rents from a flat $100 yearly fee to 52.5 cents per square foot for the year, according to a staff report. Ultimately, the City Council postponed the vote to Dec. 11 in order to make some changes to the proposal including the issue of renting docks, insurance policies and requiring owners to indemnify the city.

"I'm appalled at a tax on a tax," resident Roger Pechuls said. "Where does it stop? Are you going to be taxing every kayak that uses the water? Every paddleboarder?"

"The rush to judgment on this here is really killing me," resident Devon Kelly said. "I think we need to slow the train down. I know you've done a lot of work, but I think, beyond Dec. 11, we need to slow this down and see what we are facing because a lot of people are affected."

According to a staff report, the hikes are rents instead of taxes, and they are needed to establish a fair market charge for the residential piers located over tidelands. The money collected will pay for improvements to the harbor, including dredging, seawall maintenance and marina upkeep.

Some residents could potentially face a rental fee as high as $2,000 annually, city officials said.

"I understand even a few hundred dollars a year for some folks is an important number, I don't mean to minimize that, " Councilman Mike Henn said. "What we are about here is asking participants to pay what is fair for each participant. The total sum of all that doesn't hold a candle, or even come close, to picking up the overall cost of picking up and maintaining the harbor."

Earlier in the week the group Stop the Dock Tax , who distributed signs at the special meeting, asked homeowners lining the route of the annual Christmas boat parade in Newport Harbor to boycott the parade. Many of the group's supporters spoke at the meeting vowing to boycott the parade if the rent hikes get the green light.

"This is an unnecessary money grab and we can’t take it anymore," Bob McCaffrey, the group's chairman, said. "The money we use to decorate our homes will have to be used to pay the new tax.”

Jeff Parker, spokesman for the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, pleaded with the residents to reconsider the boycott. The boycott would be tragic for residents, visitors and members of the business community, he said.

"It would be disappointing for the event to become a political effort rather than a holiday tradition celebrated by so many," Parker said. "However, boat registrations continue to come in daily, and the Chamber plans on working as it always has to put on the best parade possible for the enjoyment of all."

City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan says the efforts of Stop the Dock Tax are misdirected and unfairly target the annual boat parade.

"We are saddened that a local organization wants to cast a negative light on an event that is very special to our entire community and that’s also important to a number of local businesses," Finnigan said.

Under the current proposal, the fee hikes will be phased in over five years through 2017 as opposed to a previous recommendation to have them phased in through 2015. The rent will apply to the float area, waters of the internal slip and dockable or useable waters around the float.

Properties in the areas of Dover Shores, Linda Isle, Promontory Bay and Harbor Island will not be subject to the rent hikes.

Brian November 29, 2012 at 08:24 PM
FYI, if we dock owners were to rent dock space,we would be forever classified as "Commercial" vs. residential and a whole new set of rules would decend. To boycott the boat parade is all that we have at our hands for getting the message out. It is our "Boston Tea Party" on the west coast. Every American should see what our City Council is doing and see how the government tide is ebbing. Why was the new City Hall not let out as a "Lump Sum" contract? The tab is increasing by millions of dollars daily and the City has to pay for it somehow. Don't be misled that the City would use these dock fees for harbor improvements. They will just hire more consultants. There is no direct resolution to keep these funds for our harbor and they won't be dredging for us to keep our bulkheads up and our docks from going aground. We have to have a voice at for our City. Watch the council voting on this on Dec. 11th and you'll be able to see how few will stand up for the property owners and residents. It has become unbalanced; not the way we use to be. Why can't we vote them out? By the way, this is also a power grab by the City that has been seen recently by those who would manage our harbor, including allowing property owners to obtain dredging permits.......now there is even a bigger subject of discouragement.
Freddie Darlene November 29, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I find this a bit amusing. . . It's a bit difficult feeling sorry for and/or supporting these poor little rich people living in Newport Beach, with their million(s) dollar houses with boats and docks! So so sad. . . .
Don Pense November 29, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Yea and the money may be going for a raise in pay for the $200,000 or $300,000/yr guys on the payroll now. Look around greed is setting in. dna
Johnny Utah November 30, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Actually Freddie, the wealthy of Newport have their own boat docks adjacent to their homes. Most of the docks/slips/moorings have tiny live-a-boards, un-motorized, and small boats that are not working. Nothing wrong with being rich, either. Some people actually are lucky. Some are jealous. I know I am.
Kelly Sawyer "Animal Defender" December 06, 2012 at 08:47 AM
I'd like to ask Manager Kiff what he thinks the FAIR MARKET PRICE is for the Canine Federal Torture being sold at Fashion Island under Fraud that the Council PROTECTS AND SUPPORTS USING A CONVICTED CRUELTY CRIMINAL TO DEFRAUD THE COMMUNITY WITH "Animal Welfare Act" Violating Breedersand marking them up 600% , disease, forged papers violating state law that the city refuses to record under Unlawful sales that are causing EXTREME FISCAL AND EMOTIONAL HARM TO NEWPORT CITIZENS, FAMILIES AND MOST OF ALL, THE CRYING CHILDREN that I have read letters to council on record in meeting with BRAND NEW DEAD BEST FRIEND..... Anyone who wants to challenge REGUALAR CITY PRACTICE OF FAIR, should Consider Council just built a dog park off UNLAWFUL FEDERAL TORTURE AND PUPPY MILL DEATH THEY HAVE CLAIMED TO MAINTAIN FUNDING AND PROFITING-- Key is they must victimize community to get any profit... "Canine Loving Community given council Gift of Dog Park"-- not even close-- park is paid by community victimization, BLOOD AND BONES OF PUPPY MILL TORTURE, AND TEARS OF NEWPORT CHILDREN THEY IGNORE TO CASH IN WHILE GIVING CITY '"NATIONAL REPUTATION" TOP Municipal funding and profiteer of Federal Law Violating Torture of Man's Best Friend-- WHAT IS THE FAIR MARKET VALUE FOR TORTURE PUPPIES MANAGER KIFF???

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