Court Appoints Receiver for Boat Removal

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Dennis Holland works on what’s left of the Shawnee in his side yard. Photo by Eric Longabardi

An Orange County Superior Court judge has ordered that a receiver oversee the settlement agreement reached by the city of Newport Beach and Newport Beach boat builder Dennis Holland earlier this year.

Holland and the city have been engaged in an on-going legal battle over the restoration of a 100-year old ketch named the Shawnee on Holland’s property. In 2010, the city passed an ordinance directed at Holland’s project. The ordinance limits boat-building projects on residential property to 35 feet; the Shawnee is 72 feet.

The ship was first brought to Holland’s property in 2006.

Under the settlement agreement, Holland was to disassemble the Shawnee by Sept. 1 and conform with the city’s boat-building ordinance in any future work on his property. Health issues kept Holland from completing the disassembly by the deadline, and the city asked at a court hearing earlier this month that a receiver be put in charge of the work.

In his order this week, Judge Gregory Munoz declares, “Plaintiffs have demonstrated that the equities favor the appointment of a receiver to carry the stipulated judgment into effect. Furthermore the court finds that Mark S. Adams is qualified to handle the unique situation of this case …”

Adams, of Los Angeles-based California Receivership Group LLC, said this week,  “I will make an assessment of the situation and come up with a plan” to present to the judge.  Adams said that typically he has 30 to 45 days to report back to the judge what his plan will be. Adams also said that as an agent of the court, “the judge is my boss.”

Holland said after the ruling, “I will continue to do what I have been doing, which is disassembling the ship.”

Holland’s lawyer, Richard Higbie of Balboa Island, presented photos to the judge at the last hearing that showed that the ship is now nearly completely disassembled. A 25-foot section of the stern remained, and Holland said he has begun taking that apart, as well.

Holland told the Independent he is considering his options for where he will begin rebuilding the ship. He said he is looking at an offer from a shipyard in Newport Beach and the possibility of moving to Costa Mesa to do so, as well as attempting to do it on another portion of his property.

He says he now is focused on finishing disassembly of the ship and sorting through the ship’s parts to decide which he will be able to use in rebuilding it. The rest, he says, will be disposed of as he cleans up the area where the boat once stood in a side yard on his property on Holiday Road just off Irvine Avenue in Newport Beach.

Holland is a master shipwright well known to locals for building the 117-foot tall ship Pilgrim of Newport, which he completed and launched in 1983. Holland built that ship over a 12-year period while living in Costa Mesa.
Holland operated and sailed the Pilgrim for more than a decade, before selling the ship to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.  The ship was recently renamed Spirt of Dana Point and still operates out of Dana Point harbor today.

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  1. The City of Newport Beach should be ashamed. And any neighbor who muscled their councilman to do this because the boat was visible from their new home should…well, should just leave. This man has contributed more to his community by building the magnificent Spirit Of Dana Point than any schmuck who writes a big check to a contractor to build another stucco box with faux-pillars out front.

    Armstrong Fleck
    Costa Mesa

  2. The boat was there first. And (initially) with permission. If they can change the rules on a the fly, who’s to say that that *this* ruling won’t be changed when someone else with more money moves in? What a travesty. Our history should be worth more that a few bucks going to the highest bidder. What a bunch of dinks.