Newport Beach reducing residential pier fees
BY MEGAN NICOLAI
Residential pier owners in Newport Beach should see lower-than-expected yearly pier permit bills over the next few years.
The City Council voted Tuesday to reduce residential pier fees for piers on state-owned, city-managed tidelands to 50 cents per square-foot instead of a previously approved 52.5 cents per square-foot by 2017. The council also voted to stop charging for space in the center of U-shaped docks in the harbor, arguing that others in the harbor were not hampered from accessing the water in U-shaped piers.
To charge homeowners for that space isn’t fair if everyone has access, Councilman Kevin Muldoon said.
“In no rights can anyone … own water,” Muldoon said. “… You cannot charge someone for something that they cannot have exclusive rights to.”
The measure passed, 4-1, with Councilman Keith Curry dissenting. Mayor Ed Selich and Councilman Marshall Duffield abstained. Selich owns a residential pier, and Duffield runs a business in the harbor.
The reduction of fees and not charging for water in the center of U-shaped docks will mean an estimated $125,252 reduction in revenue for the city by 2017, according Harbor Resources manager Chris Miller.
The city has 882 residential pier permits, Miller said.
The council voted in 2012 to increase dock fees for residential piers, fuel docks and commercial marinas on tidelands so fees reflected local fair market values for piers, according to city documents. Prior to 2013, dock owners paid a standard fee of $100. In 2013, the rate was 12.9 cents per square foot, and the fee ramped up by about 10 cents per square-foot each year. The fee per square-foot would have been 52.5 cents per square foot in 2017 under the previous schedule.
Bob McCaffrey, former chairman of the Newport Beach Dockowners Association and a member of Stop the Dock Tax, called the increase in yearly dock fees passed in 2012 “an ill-advised and unnecessary money grab by the prior City Council.”
“It lit a fire in the community that has been smoldering for years,” McCaffrey said. “Our goals are straightforward. Preserve our property right, protect our piers from government seizure and pay our fair share, nothing more.”