Where the boat parade boycott failed, a group of Newport Beach residents are hoping a lawsuit will succeed in forcing the city to reverse course on dock rental fee increases.
As reported by the Orange County Register, a group of residents calling themselves the Newport Beach Dock Owners Association joined Stop the Dock Tax Chairman Bob McCaffrey in suing the city this month alleging city leaders violated the state’s open government law by holding informal meetings on the issue without proper public notice.
“We expect behavior like this in Castro's Cuba or the city of Bell, not in Newport Beach," the paper quoted a McCaffrey saying in a press release.
City Attorney Aaron Harp has called the suit groundless.
"The group was less than a quorum of the City Council, so the Brown Act doesn't apply," Harp told the Orange County Register. "We went back and took another look at it, given the allegations being made, and we don't see any violations."
In December the City Council approved the increase of residential dock rents from a flat $100 yearly fee to 52.5 cents per square foot.
The residential dock fee hikes, which prompted last year’s boycott of the Christmas boat parade passed in January with councilwoman Leslie Daigle dissenting and Councilman Ed Selich recusing himself from the vote. Along with the fee increase, homeowners can now rent out their docks, the $100 inspection fee was removed, new rent structures were implemented based on square footage of docks and an appeal process was established for homeowners who disagree with the city's calculation of square footage.
Over the next five years, the fee increases will be phased in. The fee increases apply to roughly 1,200 docks, and some residents could potentially face a rental fee as high as $2,000 annually, city officials have said.
Click here for the full Orange County Register story.
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