By Justin Swanson | NB Indy
The Newport Beach Dock Owners Association, the group behind the “Stop the Dock Tax” campaign, filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday, alleging that city council members have violated the Ralph M. Brown Act.
The lawsuit claims that council members have been meeting privately about harbor fees and posting no legal notice since 2010.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a recent increase in residential dock fees, approved by the council after weeks of meetings, numerous hours of heated discussions, and facing threats of boycotting the Christmas Boat Parade, in a 5-1 vote on Dec. 11.
The final vote, with Councilwoman Leslie Daigle dissenting and Councilman Ed Selich recusing himself, came after more than two hours of discussion with the public during a special meeting in the old council chambers.
During the meetings over the few months prior to the council’s decision, the group’s attorneys, Kristine Thagaard and Steve Baric, both threatened to sue.
The city council carried on with its plans to change fees from $100 annually to 52.5 cents per square foot, of usable dock space, per year. The fees will increase over a five-year phase plan.
In a closed session on Jan. 22, the council unanimously rejected the contention by Baric that the Brown Act was violated.
The city will host two public meetings where Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff will discuss the new dock fee. The first of the two meetings was held Thursday night. The second will be held Tuesday, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the old city hall, at 3300 Newport Blvd.