Commentary: Dock fees nothing more than a 'money grab'

Many owners bought access to Tidelands before the Tidelands concept was created by the Tidelands Grant (money grab) from the state of California.

Property owners have always paid the highest county real estate taxes because of our prime location. Owners paid a premium through purchase and continued paying high real estate taxes because of high county assessed valuation. Owners pay this high tax or lose their property.

The Tidelands Grant was a money grab from the very beginning in the early 1970s by the state of California. As property owners, we bought our land for access to the water, never thinking the government would grab our business revenue. Property owners paid the purchase price, built their sea walls, delivered water and electricity, and finally dredged the harbor under our docks and floats to develop our businesses.

This city money grab devalues our ownership and disregards our purchase and continued maintenance of the waterfront.

The city has never done anything to help in any part of our purchase or maintenance of our property. In fact, the city has failed in its responsibility to monitor federal assistance of dredging the main channel for 40 years. Now the city states it is doing harbor users a favor by performing the federal responsibility of dredging the main channel with our local money. This is an outrage.

Owners should be represented by all the power of the city to receive an equal reduction of county assessed valuation to offset this Tidelands money grab.

Using city of Newport Tidelands dollars to perform federal dredging responsibilities should also require a reduction of our federal tax liability. Newport property owners are being double-taxed and double-expensed because of poor leadership of our Newport city government.

All this in addition to building a new city hall that will cost $90 million more than the original projected cost of $60 million.

The city has ignored Tidelands Grant language of "fair return," and "no discrimination of charges for Tidelands user."

The disingenuous city interpretation of this whole matter is nothing less than a "cram-down" by our council, city manager and city staff.

JOHN VALLELY lives in Newport Beach.

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