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Newport Beach residents sue over an increase to the 'dock tax'

February 12, 2013 |  7:47 pm
A man fishes off a dock in Newport Beach in 2010. Credit: Daily Pilot.

Waterfront residents who are incensed that Newport Beach increased fees on residential docks that span public waters said they made good on a pledge Tuesday to sue the city.

The Stop the Dock Tax group, which said it filed suit in Orange County Superior Court, contends that meetings by public officials that led to a City Council decision to hike the fees were not conducted in public or properly noticed, as required by the state's open-meetings law.

“We expect behavior like this in Castro’s Cuba or the city of
Bell, not in Newport Beach,” Stop the Dock Tax Chairman Bob McCaffrey said in a prepared statement.

California's Ralph M. Brown Act requires that elected officials conduct most government business in public sessions that are noticed in advance. At issue is a small working group that included three of seven council members that met to discuss the fees before the council raised them in late 2012.

McCaffrey, in a follow-up interview, said that the plan to increase rates from an annual $100 flat fee to 52.5 cents per square foot is “nothing more than a money grab by the city of Newport Beach.”

Newport Beach Assistant City Atty. Michael Torres said that because the committee was made up of three of the seven council members -- just shy of a quorum -- the meetings did not fall under open-meetings laws.

“The truth is we did not violate the Brown Act,” he said.

Let a judge decide that, McCaffrey said.


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-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: A man fishes off a dock in Newport Beach in 2010. Credit: Daily Pilot.