Newport Beach boat owners worked up over proposed dock fee increase

The City of Newport Beach is considering increasing dock fees in Newport Harbor.
The City of Newport Beach is considering increasing dock fees in Newport Harbor.
Ed Joyce/KPCC

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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.