Tea Party opposes dock-fee increases

The Newport Mesa Tea Party Patriots on Thursday announced its opposition to fee increases for the use of public tidelands in Newport Harbor.

The fee increases, which will be phased in over several years, have become a source of conflict between harbor stakeholders and the city. They apply to the private docks that span public waters.

“We view the reckless taxing and spending by the Newport Beach City Council as a threat to the liberty of its residents,” group founder Tom Pollitt said in a statement. “Old Newport conservatives like John Wayne and Barry Goldwater would be appalled at the bloated and intrusive bureaucracy of Newport.”

The city has said it plans to use the money from increases to make needed infrastructure improvements in the harbor.

However, dock tax opponents are suing the city in hopes of blocking the new fees — 52.5 cents per square foot per year for the use of public tidelands. The old rate was $100 a year.

The Newport Mesa Tea Party, Pollitt said, is about 350 strong, with an average attendance at meetings of 75 or 80.

— Jill Cowan

Twitter: @jillcowan