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.
I am very disappointed in our political leadership. When they campaign for office they claim to be fiscally responsible, pro-resident, and pro-business. We take them at their word, donate, and look what happens.
Kristine Thagard, our counsel, will be preparing a detailed response the yesterday’s workshop. I will circulate her memo to you shortly.
MARK YOU CALENDAR
SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING TO ASSESS RESIDENTIAL DOCK TAX
Wednesday, November 28
Newport Beach City Hall
City Council Chambers
Stop The Dock Tax
www.stopthedocktax.com Please check with our web site for the lastest information
Newport approves rent increases on harbor businesses
By DEEPA BHARATH
NEWPORT BEACH – Residents face significant increases in dock rents if the City Council votes on a proposal Nov. 28 to increase tidelands fees.
More than 50 dock owners attended a city-organized public workshop Monday evening in council chambers to answer questions about this fee increase that has elicited much anger and frustration from community members.
The city’s proposal is to increase the rent for residential docks from a flat $100 fee to 52.5 cents per square foot. The rent will apply to the dock and float area, waters of the internal slip and dockable or useable waters around the float.
Under the proposal, the increases will be phased in over three periods through 2015. Properties on private waterways or county tidelands such as Dover Shores and Linda Isle will not be subject to these fee increases, city officials said.
The proposal requires residential dock owners to keep their docks in good order and have $1 million in liability insurance. As part of the proposal, the council will vote to amend the municipal code so residential dock owners can rent out their docks, which is currently illegal.
The City Council has voted to increase these dock rents for large marinas and other commercial properties in the harbor over the past month. There are 970 residential docks in Newport Beach that will be subject to this fee increase.
Councilman Michael Henn clarified that this is a rent being charged for the use of a public asset, not a tax. However, resident Devon Kelly, who moved into her Lido Isle home six months ago, said it sure “feels like a tax.”
“I pay $100 a year in dock rent now, and it will go up to $1,500 if this proposal goes through,” she said. “I understand that the city needs to do this, and the council members are doing their best. But I don’t think they’ve done their due diligence.”
Kelly and other residents also said they believe the process has been “rushed.”
“This needs to be slowed way down and a lot of fine-tuning needs to be done,” she said.
Dave Hook, a 28-year resident of Bayside Drive, said he understands why this increase is necessary.
“I’m actually one of the few people who is OK with this,” he said. “Maybe the math needs to be explored some more, but in general, it seems fair to me.”
The majority sentiment at the meeting was, however, antagonistic to the rent increase. Several people expressed concern that they are retired and on a “fixed income.” Another resident said that he feels that these fees are “being shoved down this throat.”
Resident Peter Pallette said the fees are “worse than taxes.”
“Since this is a fee, we can’t even claim it as a tax deduction,” he said. “You’re really sticking it to us. These fees are way out of balance.”
Pallette said while commercial owners can pass the increase to consumers, there is no way for residents to defray this increase.
Seymour Beek, a Balboa Island resident, said he has been hit hard as a resident and the owner of a fuel dock in Newport Harbor.
“I have to pay 10 to 12 times more rent on my residential dock, which means I’m going to have to rent out my dock, and I’m not happy about that,” he said.
YARD SIGNS ARE AVAILABLE
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