Dock fee opponents to protest Civic Center

The city of Newport Beach plans to open its new Civic Center to great fanfare Saturday.

But opponents of the recent decision to raise rental rates on residential piers plan to protest outside of the opening-day ceremony.

"We are asking you to be physically involved," according to statement from Stop the Dock Tax. "We appreciate your monetary generosity, but now is the time for you to physically support our cause with your personal appearance at our rally to protest to the cost of the city hall."

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.

Those opposed to the new fee structure for private piers that span public waters argue that the city should not have spent $130 million to build a civic center off Avocado Avenue near Newport Center and Fashion Island and then pursue new sources of revenue.

A press release from the group uses a now-familiar pejorative to describe the new center: "the Taj Mahal."

"We talk to person after person whom think this cost is outrageous," the group said. "If you agree with us, support us at the rally this Saturday."

The Civic Center will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors will be able to roam the grounds, eats samples from local restaurants and take part in a range of activities.

An official dedication ceremony will kick off festivities.

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