Council Looks Back at Pier Rent

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City council took a look back this week at the rent implementation procedure for residential and commercial piers and moorings in Newport Harbor and found a few changes to make and plenty of people still fired up over the issue.

The city held two public workshops in August and summarized the suggestions and comments for the council’s review.

Ideas were heard loud and clear in the workshops, said the city’s harbor resources manager, Chris Miller.

The recommendations are a reflection of feedback received from the meetings, Mayor Keith Curry said.

Staff recommended charging half rate for the interior of the U-shaped float and the 10 foot buffer area and nothing if the usable water space is less than five feet. Both had previously been charged the full rate.

Instead, council replied that the interior of the U-shaped float should remain at full price and that nothing should be charged for the buffer zone.

A unique aspect of Newport Harbor is that there are a lot of small floating devices or boats, Mayor Pro Tem Rush Hill said, so nothing should be charged for the buffer zone.

Although he recognizes that there was logic behind every line drawn, they all seem very arbitrary, Hill said.. Also, each one requires a unique decision, he added.

Hill suggestion of eliminating the buffer, with the exception of what is inside the U-shape, drew scattered applause from the audience.

Several residents agreed with Hill’s comment about the buffer zone.

Curry added that he thought it should be revised.

“When you look at the convoluted way it was explained tonight I, frankly, share some of the audience’s confusion about how the formula was put together,” Curry said.

He agreed with Hill and council members Nancy Gardner and Tony Petros that there should be no charge. Councilwoman Leslie Daigle was absent and councilman Ed Selich recused himself.

Councilman Mike Henn disagreed. The staff recommended 50 percent discount is reasonable, he added.

It is unwise to stray too far from the state’s methodology, Henn warned, because what they currently have would likely be better for both residents and the city than it would be if the state came in and took control over management.

Other recommendations from staff included providing a simplified one-page permit for residential piers with added language to clarify the city’s intent to renew the permit, five or ten year permit options, re-designate the HOA piers from residential to commercial, stepping down to the 2018 rent rate for very small piers, use the rental revenue collected by the Harbor Patrol from vacant moorings for mooring amenities and beneficial harbor programs,

During discussions, staff found the mooring rates to be appropriate and proposed no changes.

Staff will come back with a revised ordinance, possibly by council’s next meeting on Nov. 26.

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