Newport Beach boat owners worked up over proposed dock fee increase

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The Newport Beach City Council is considering a dramatic increase in the dock fees it charges residents in Newport Harbor.

Under the proposal, fees would rise gradually from $100 a year to about 52 cents per square foot a year. Real estate developer Peter Pallette said that translates to anywhere from $400 to $2,000 a year. He lives along Newport Harbor where he stores his 33-foot power boat.

“I’m 72 years-old, I’ve spent my life here, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s excessive," he said. "We already pay a rather sizable tax – property tax, that is – on our pier and dock. In addition to that, we pay a fee to the city of Newport Beach.”

Pallette is part of a group of called "Stop the Dock Tax" that claims to represent 1,200 Newport Beach residential dock owners who oppose the city's fee increase. 

City Manager Dave Kiff wrote in a staff report that the charge is for rent, not a tax.

"There is a fair amount of misinformation within the harbor community regarding the City Council's review of residential pier rent," he wrote. "The rent received from a residential pier permittee will be spent solely on tidelands to secure, improve and maintain the tidelands for the public." 

Kiff  said the reason the city is considering a fee increase has to do with a new California law that requires it to charge rent for residential piers over tidelands.

The "Stop the Dock Tax" group announced Wednesday that it plans to protest the fee with a boycott of the 104th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade December 19 through 23. 

The Newport Beach City Council will host a special meeting about the proposed fee increase at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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