I am the sole Newport Beach council vote against what is colloquially referred to as the "dock tax."
The new charge increases government/regulation, creates a new source of revenue and redistributes more of the hard-earned money of the people who are motivated to make the economy work.
The solution to investing in our harbor infrastructure lays in prudent management of existing tidelands revenues, not creating new fiscal and regulatory burdens for residents.
The dock tax will be levied on a square-foot basis. If you disagree with the city on the measured area, you may appeal to a hearing officer.
Once government gets hold of an activity, the bureaucracy metastasizes. More government will monitor docks for rental activity. The city will bill residential rentals the same rate as a small marina.
Through the passage of the dock tax, the city has carved out an area ("dock area") separate from the residence. When a homeowner violates the permit connected to the area, the city can move to confiscate the dock.
The public boardwalk and public beach abutting the docks on Balboa Island provide access for future dock rentals available from the city.
Current inspection fee
Existing law grants in trust to the city all tidelands in Newport Beach. The city administers local revenues and expenses and is responsible for the maintenance of harbor infrastructure. Examples of revenue sources are parking and the city's lease with Ruby's Diner.
In the 1980s, city officials inquired with State Lands Commission (SLC) about charging a rent or tax for residential docks. SLC determined the city could not charge a tax or rent where an upland residential property abuts the dock. Indeed, the state needed a new law (Senate Bill 152, passed in 2011) to charge the docks it directly manages.
SLC agreed to have the city inspect the docks as they could catch fire or be obtrusive. The $100 annual inspection covers this service.
The dock tax is a new charge adopted by council and unrelated to the inspection fee. Some residents charge the dock tax is double taxation.
According to market data provided by local Realtors, a dock adds value to a bay front property. On an assessment of $500,000, the levy is $5,000 of which the city receives $850. The city receives 17% of the basic 1 % levy. All property tax revenues are deposited in the General Fund.
When government can't live within its means, it creates new sources of revenue. Then-state Sen. Ross Johnson sponsored an amendment to the Beacon Bay Bill in 1997. It states that 80% of tidelands revenues shall go to capital infrastructure. This speaks to the intent of how local tidelands revenues ought to be spent.
How is the city spending its tidelands revenues? Less than 30% is being used for bay projects. Considerable sums are being used for employee salaries and benefits.