City Manager Selling Newport Home

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City Manger Dave Kiff’s 23d Street home: For sale.

City Manager Dave Kiff has listed for sale the Newport Beach home that the city helped him buy when he assumed his post in 2009.

And while it appears that under the deal he signed at that time he could force the city to take a loss on the property, he said this week that he will “make sure the city doesn’t lose any money” and that he personally “will pay back the entire amount” that the city spent helping him purchase the house.

The city helped Kiff buy the home because at the time of his promotion the City Charter required that the city manager live in the city. That requirement was removed in a charter amendment passed by the voters in November 2010.

Kiff declined to comment on why he’s selling the home, other than to say it is “for family reasons” that he wouldn’t detail any further. Before becoming city manager, Kiff lived in Laguna Beach. He still owns that home.

The Newport Beach property, on 23rd Street, is being offered at $989,000.

The total price he and the city paid for the house in 2009 was $935,000.  The city kicked in $471,250 and retained a 51 percent interest in the property.

At the time in 2009 the house deal was rather unusual, but there was little concern the city would end up on the short end of the financial stick.

However, the ailing real estate market locally has only fitfully recovered, and prices remain below their historic highs posted before the 2008 economic crisis.

Kiff undertook fairly extensive remodeling of the home after the purchase, and under the deal with the city whatever money Kiff spent in remodeling would be repaid to him when the house was sold.

That clause could potentially end up costing the city, as repaying Kiff and then dividing the remaining proceeds from the sale would not allow the city to realize $470,000, even if the asking price was met.

When asked specifically about the amount of money he spent remodeling the home, Kiff also declined to comment for this story, saying only that he intended to “make the city whole … because it was the right thing to do.”

Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp, who did not hold that post in 2009, did not respond to detailed questions about the house sale or the city’s financial stake in it, but stated, “I don’t actually know if he remodeled or what the remodeling costs were. Also, we have not run these calculations. I don’t know what the house is going to sell for and it seems premature to be speculating regarding potential gains/losses for the City.  If Dave, said he will be paying back the entire $470K, I would accept his word on that issue.”

An open house was held last weekend.

See the listing with more photos here.

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