Mailbag: 'Dock tax' not required by state law

The press has not reported a significant aspect of the passage of the "dock tax" by the Newport Beach City Council. In City Manager Dave Kiff's report to the council, recommending passage of the dock tax, he stated:

"Historically, the city has followed the lead of the state and not charged rent for residential piers located over Tidelands. However, in 2011 the governor signed into law SB 152, which required the State Lands Commission to begin charging rent for residential piers. Because the city is a trustee of the state in regards to Tidelands property, the city should comport its actions to that of the state and charge fair market value rent for the use of Tidelands by residential piers."

In other words, Senate Bill 152 is the cornerstone of the reasoning behind imposing the dock tax. At the public hearing held by the council Dec. 11, two members of the public questioned the applicability of SB 152 to Newport Beach. Guess what? The city attorney admitted that SB 152 is not applicable to Newport Beach. One might think this revelation would have slowed the council down on taking a vote. But not to worry, the council charged ahead and did what they'd already made up their minds to do and passed the dock tax.

In re-reading Kiff's words (above), I noticed that he really doesn't say that Newport Beach is governed by SB 152. Instead he says, "...the city should comport its actions..." Obviously, Kiff knew that Newport Beach was not governed by SB 152. At least some members of the council must have known too, but didn't want to give up their hiding places behind SB 152.

This is an example of why many citizens affected by this tax are more upset with the city's attitude and process than with the amount they are being required to pay.

Seymour Beek

Balboa Island


Fashion Island shots

The shooter's gunfire at Newport's Fashion Island was wrong, unlawful and, of course, dangerous. On the other hand, shoppers in this politically insular city may be temporarily shocked out of their well-to-do complacency. Now, we know that by degree, in Newtown or Newport, this can happen anywhere.

Lee Mallory

Newport Beach


Civic Center costs

Great front page Thursday! The $131.4-million for a Civic Center that is referred to as the "Taj Mahal" and below that "a teaching job that was at risk" ("First look at 'Taj Mahal'" and "Parents help fund science position"). I probably don't have to say more, but I will.

First off saying "the public wanted something better" for a City Hall is a joke on the face of it. If the citizens of Newport Beach are putting on this excessive display of wealth over education then their priorities are little mixed up. The price of this obscene structure could have gone toward improving out schools, but then who would have noticed except the students and teachers who deserve much more than they ever get.

Rhoda Friedman

Newport Beach

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