Pier Ordinance Won’t Change, Civil Action Filed

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City council decided Tuesday not to make changes to a city ordinance concerning transferring commercial pier permits between family members.

With councilwoman Leslie Daigle absent and councilman Mike Henn dissenting, the motion to maintain the status quo, while adding in the indemnification language for the city, was approved 5-1.

Currently, commercial pier permit holders need to take the matter to the Harbor Commission in order to obtain a new permit under a new name, which would include transferring it to another person, explained city attorney Aaron Harp.

The changes would have allowed transfers to be made between family members at an administrative level, without going to the Harbor Commission, he said.

Harbor resources manager Chris Miller explained that the item was regarding piers that encroach in front of neighboring properties.

There are less than 10 piers in Newport Harbor that encroach in front of adjacent upland property, according to the staff report.

The move comes after a petition for writ of mandate was filed in Orange County Superior Court by 508 S. Bayfront homeowner John Vallely on Monday against the city.

“We thought perhaps this was a way to avoid some litigation, it appears that’s not the case,” said Mayor Keith Curry. “I think leaving it the way it is, is probably the way to go.”

According to a letter his attorney recently wrote to the city, Vallely was attempting to transfer the commercial pier permit over to his name after his mother died in 2012.

The matter has been before the council twice before.

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