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Daily Pilot

Commentary: Consider these dock-fee issues

By Douglas M. Wood

7:07 PM PST, December 7, 2012

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Re. "Commentary: Newport has duty to charge fair market rates," (Dec. 4):

Councilman Mike Henn was exactly right when he said, "More changes will be made before a final decision is made."

He was referring to the City Council consideration of the residential dock charges. Yet, it is the expressed intention of the council to vote on this issue Tuesday. Why is there a rush to vote?

There are a number of changes to be made to this proposal and the public deserves the right to consider and comment on these open issues:

1.) Appeal process. The appeal process will not be developed until January-February.

2.) Insurance. Language will not be developed until January-February concerning the requirement for homeowners to have additional insurance on their docks.

3.) Slip rental by residents. Whether slip rentals will be allowed is currently unsettled.

4.) Revenue impact. No calculation of the city's dock-charge revenue has been made. Therefore there has been no calculation of the overall impact on residents or the local economy.

5.) Comparable action by other communities. It is common knowledge that other cities with tidelands have not assessed such taxes on residential piers.

6.) California Environmental Quality Act. The piecemeal setting of taxes on marinas, boatyards, yacht clubs and other groups, then residential docks, violates the CEQA.

7.) Consumer Price Index. It makes no sense to use the CPI for one-year permits.

8.) Three-page agreement. The proposed agreement is not necessary. This is overkill when a one-page permit would do. The text of the agreement itself is controversial.

9.) Dredging. Since the city would become the landlord, it should be expected to do necessary dredging in the taxed area.

10.) Toxic Rialto Channel. Similarly, the city, as landlord, would be responsible for removing toxic waste (sewage) from the Rialto Channel.

11.) Indemnification. This issue, whether the city should be indemnified against risks from incidents on the taxed property, remains unresolved.

The above points make it clear that the staff work has not been completed. A vote should be delayed until all factors are studied, clarified and public discussion completed.

DOUGLAS M. WOOD lives on Balboa in Newport Beach.