Commentary: Why we are boycotting the boat parade

Many residents have asked why Stop the Dock Tax — representing Newport's 1,200 residential dock owners – is organizing a boycott of this year's Christmas Boat Parade.

We thoroughly understand the ramifications of this boycott on our business community, residents and visiting tourists. This is not a cavalier decision; we realize it will have an economic impact. This is a decision borne out of frustration with a city government that has chosen to treat its residents in a high-handed manner.

We are the homeowners that rim Newport Harbor. Every year we joyfully spend thousands of dollars to decorate our homes and boats for more than 1 million visitors to enjoy. We voluntarily spend this money so that children and adults alike can experience this special city that we cherish.

We are happy that the city of Newport Beach receives tax dollars from the packed restaurants and charter boats during the parade. Fashion Island is full, hotels are sold out, our friends at the Chamber of Commerce profit, and families from throughout Southern California see our beautiful community.

The boat parade and Parade of Lights does not happen if we turn off the switch.

We are boycotting this year's Christmas Boat Parade and Festival of Lights to protest the Newport Beach City Council's attempt to levy a new tax on our residential boat docks.

In protest of this unnecessary new tax, we are turning off the holiday lights and pulling our boats out of the parade.

We already pay property tax on the value of our docks. The city receives a portion of this tax, but claims it needs more.

Our council fails to understand that Newport Harbor residents are charitable, family-oriented and an integral part of the community's success.

We are not the council's piggy bank. Millions of dollars will be made during this year's Christmas Boat Parade, none of it by us. Our generosity allows others to profit.

This week the council held a hearing to levy the new dock tax. We currently pay a small permit fee of $100. That's not enough. We realize our responsibility to help pay to keep the harbor vibrant, safe and clean.

But the council has never called, written or asked for a meeting to negotiate. They are attempting to cram down the tax increase, up to 3,000% in some cases.

Once the city gets into our pocketbooks, it never goes away.

The city held a "workshop" three days before Thanksgiving. The workshop was analogous to receiving a lecture from a school teacher.

Eight days later — right after the Thanksgiving weekend — it scheduled the meeting to levy the dock tax. Why the rush to tax?

This week's council meeting was finally a beginning of a discussion. Hopefully, they have figured out that the dock tax cram-down is an overreach that needs significant review.

Our right to boycott the Christmas Boat Parade is fundamental in our great republic. We choose to exercise this right until this council decides to sit down for a reasonable conversation.

Until then, the lights are out.

BOB MCCAFFREY is chairman of the Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn. and Stop the Dock Tax. He lives in Newport Beach.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World