Tidelands committee holds its first meeting

Newport Beach's Tidelands Management Committee announced Wednesday during its first meeting that it is seeking applicants for its citizens advisory panel.

The purpose of the committee is to oversee projects relating to the tidelands and monitor costs.

The nonvoting panel could consist of up to seven members who live or work in Newport Beach, and one would be a member of the city's Harbor Commission. Members would serve staggered two-year terms.

The management committee — made up of City Council members Ed Selich, Mike Henn and Nancy Gardner — also discussed the city's harbor fund, the creation of which needed approval from the State Lands Commission. The commission approved the harbor fund Friday. The harbor fund is slated to pay for capital improvements within the harbor. Dock rent increases, passed last year after much controversy and debate, would go into that fund.

The commission had postponed the vote after state Sen. Mimi Walters and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor requested a delay.

The state's only stipulation is that if there is a loan from the general fund to the harbor fund in excess of $1 million, the State Lands Commission approve it in advance, according to city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan. For loans less than $1 million, the State Lands Commission would need only to be notified.

Bob McCaffrey, the chairman of the Stop the Dock Tax Group and the Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn., sent Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom a letter Wednesday asking him to reject the request to establish the harbor fund, saying that the city has mismanaged tidelands funds.

The city has voiced its disagreement with McCaffrey's stance and in a May letter to Walters said, in part, that "we are good stewards of this tidelands money."

Henn said at the beginning of the meeting that the newly revived committee would be subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act, California's open-meeting law, while a previous incarnation of the committee was not. The previous tidelands committee was an ad hoc committee created in 2011.

The committee meets quarterly. The next scheduled meeting is at 4 p.m. Sept. 18.



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