November 2012.

CITY COUNCIL TO CHRISTEN NEW CITY HALL WITH DOCK TAX LEVY

First off, thanks to everyone that emailed, made phone calls, or attended Wednesday night’s city council meeting.  It was a packed house – not a single speaker supported the Dock Tax.

If you couldn’t attend you can watch the streaming video here.

In short, the city council continued the hearing to December 11th, 4:00 p.m. in the new $150 million city hall located next to the Newport Beach Central Library.  They made minor revisions to the Dock Tax, but nothing to substantively change the amount of new tax you will have to pay.

I find it ironic that we are about to be assessed a massive new tax in the most expensive city hall ever built in Orange County.

Nonetheless, we continue our vigorous opposition to this blatant money grab.

It is unfortunate that the city nor any councilmembers have reached out to talk to us – instead I anticipate a cram down on December 11th.

Since they don’t want to talk we are sadly organizing a boycott of the 104th Christmas Boat Parade & Festival of Lights.

Every year we joyfully spend thousands of dollars to decorate our homes and boats for over one million visitors to enjoy.  We voluntarily spend this money so that children and adults alike can experience this special city that we cherish.

CITY POISED TO LEVY MASSIVE NEW TAX ON RESIDENTIAL DOCKS – BOYCOTT OF CHRISTMAS BOAT PARADE LAUNCHED

At tonight’s city council meeting, I expect that the city council will adopt a significant Dock Tax on all residential dock owners in Newport Harbor.  Unfortunately, the council majority has spent the last two years raising taxes on every user and business in the Harbor.

They saved us for last.  The proposed Dock Tax is 52.5 cents per square foot of tidelands of your dock complex.  Depending on your dock’s configuration, you will be taxed in the range of $400 – $3,000 per year.  You currently pay an annual $100 permit.

We all love this Harbor and our city.  We understand our obligation to pay our fair share of taxes to keep the Harbor vibrant.  We already pay significant property tax on the value of our dock.  The city already receives a percentage of our dock property tax.  They don’t need to double-tax us by adding a Dock Tax to the mix.

In three weeks the 104th Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade begins.  The foundation of the parade of lights are our boats and homes that we decorate – drawing one million viewers.  Thousands of dollars are spent by each of us decorating our boats and homes – we do it because we love Newport Beach.  We do it voluntarily.  We don’t make a penny on it.  The city, Harbor businesses, the Chamber of Commerce all financially benefit from our generosity.

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STOP THE DOCK TAX LEGAL COUNSEL EXPOSES CITY’S RUSH TO LEVY TAX

In a detailed response to the City’s money grab, Stop the Dock Tax lawyer Kristine Thagard has sent a revealing letter to the city council outlining numerous issues that expose the flaws in the Dock Tax proposal.  You can read her letter here.  For example;

  1. Thagard calls out the city for this rush to judgment.  Over 100 people attended a “window dressing” workshop the Monday of Thanksgiving week.   The day before Thanksgiving the city posts a 62 page staff report outlining the same recommendations that were discussed at the workshop.  You can read the staff report hereOn page 40 an example of the Dock Tax assessment methodology is outlined.  In short, the workshop was window dressing allowing staff to claim they “listened” to the public.
  2. Further, Thagard also alerts the city that the proposed new dock Permit could result in the city forcing homeowner’s to vacate their rights and ownership of the dock for failure to abide by the proposed Permit.  This new Permit appears to terminate your “right” to your dock.
  3. The new Permit requires you to indemnify and hold harmless the city – at a significant increase in insurance cost to you.
  4. Thagard challenges the underlying staff assertion that the Dock Tax should be based upon fair market value of the tidelands.  Staff has always asserted that the 1997 “Beacon Bay” bill requires them to assess the Dock Tax using fair market value.  However, as Thagard notes, the Beacon Bay bill requires fair market value for the Beacon Bay residential parcels – not the entire Harbor.  (The homes on Beacon Bay are unique as they located on tidelands)
  5. At the Monday, November 19th workshop it was correctly asserted that IF the city uses fair market value to set the Dock Tax rate, the dock location should be considered.  Docks in the main channel are worth more than those elsewhere.

CITY REVEALS DOCK TAX METHODOLOGY AT STUDY SESSION

A generally angry crowd of over 100 residents filled the city council chambers yesterday afternoon to hear the city’s plan to levy a huge Dock Tax on Newport Harbor pier owners.  Depending on the configuration of the dock, residents can expect a Dock Tax of $400 – $3,000 per year.

City Manager Dave Kiff led the discussion while Mayor Gardner and Councilman Mike Henn generally listened to the presentation.  Committee member Councilman Steve Rosansky did not attend.  Councilman-elect Tony Petros attended and got a feel for the anger in the room.

A constant theme of the meeting was residents felt the city was “double-taxing” residential dock owners.

Yesterday’s workshop – held the Monday of Thanksgiving week – is a precursor to the November 28 city council meeting where I expect the council majority will levy the tax through a new ordinance.  This is the last scheduled meeting of the old city council that  favors the tax.

I believe this rush to impose the Dock Tax is being driven by the political reality that the new city council seated on December 11th may not support the Dock Tax increase.

I believe the fix is in – this city council doesn’t care what we say.  They claim to be “pro-business” yet they raise taxes on Harbor businesses 366% in a recession.  Mooring holders took a 300% hit last year resulting in record high vacancies.

HARBOR STUDENTS DISTRIBUTE DOOR HANGARS TO STOP THE DOCK TAX

 In advance of the city council’s plan to double tax our residential docks, a group of high school students distributed ST0P THE DOCK TAX door hangars to every dock owner in the Harbor.

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The City Council is trying to sneak this tax through by hold a public hearing on Monday of Thanksgiving week.  The door hangars provide dock owners with the current information and examples of how much the city has increased Tidelands taxes on Harbor businesses.

CITY SCHEDULES 2 MEETINGS TO RAISE DOCK TAX

 A special meeting of the City Council’s Committee on Tidelands has been set to receive public input on the pending residential Dock Tax.  The committee of Mayor Gardner, Councilmen Henn & Rosansky will develop recommendations for consideration by the full city council at the November 28th meeting.  This is your chance to speak out in an informal setting prior to the final council meeting.  Please attend and speak out about the proposed double taxation of your dock.

TIDELANDS COMMITTEE STUDY SESSION
Monday, November 19th
3:30 p.m.
Newport Beach City Hall
City Council Chambers 

 CITY COUNCIL TO CONSIDER ADDITIONAL NEW TAX INCREASES ON HARBOR BUSINESSES

The 447% tax increase on commercial marina’s wasn’t enough.  Now the city council has scheduled a public meeting to raise additional taxes on a multitude of Harbor businesses.  If you know anyone on the list below, please contact them.  They are about to see an increase from 36 cents per square foot of tidelands, to the rate in the chart below.

NEWPORT BEACH CITY COUNCIL MEETING
SUBJECT: ADDITIONAL TAX INCREASES ON HARBOR BUSINESSES
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
7:00 p.m.
Newport Beach City Hall

dave kiff - display-121106 -.png
It is in our interest to attend this city council meeting to comment on these tax increases.

If everything goes as the City proposes you can expect a huge yearly tax increase on your private dock.