NB Leaders Rally Around Boat Parade; Boycott Organizers Say Dimming the Lights is a “Bitter Pill”

posted: December 11th, 2012 05:11 am | 0No Comments

In response to a movement to dim the lights and pull boats from the annual Christmas Boat Parade, the City of Newport Beach has posted a news item on the city website saying the city strongly supports the parade and that “the show will go on every night from December 19 through December 23.”

The boycott is part of a protest organized by the Stop the Dock Tax group, which opposes Newport Beach City Council’s proposed tax increase on residential docks. City officials say that the state compels them to charge a fair market rent on docks, which are private uses of public property. Opponents say the dock taxes are a double tax because dock owners already pay property taxes. They also oppose increasing fees on private docks from a flat $100 per year to 52.5 cents per square foot, which translates into as much as $1,000 for some owners. On Monday, the group also issued a statement that accused the City of Newport Beach of violating the Brown Act

The City Council will discuss the topic at a special meeting at 4 p.m. today at the old City Hall; click here to read the staff report.

Opponents said they want the City Council to postpone a vote until the new year to give residents a chance to express concerns and perhaps make changes.

“That’s so simple, so why can’t they grasp it?” said Pete Palette. “They just will not listen.”

The 104th annual boat parade –which was called out in December’s issue of Martha Stewart Living — will include more than 60 boats, organizers said in a letter.

“It is not our place to evaluate whether or not the Stop the Dock Tax supporters have a point with their protests about the dock fee adjustments,” wrote Gary C. Sherwin, president and CEO of VIsit Newport Beach Inc. “But we do take exception to hijacking a valuable community event that thousands enjoy every year and is a defining attribute of our city…Our community benefits from the event economically and socially and it is one element that makes our community special and unique. It is part of who we are. This event belongs to Newport Beach. No single group can take it hostage and threaten to hurt others because they have their own issue to resolve.”

City Manager Dave Kiff wrote about the issue in his Insider’s Guide email about Tuesday’s City Council meetings.

“Trying to hold the 2012 Boat Parade hostage right now is to me just sad,” Kiff wrote. “Even if it’s only me, I’ll still celebrate Christmas and the boat parade. I hope you will too.”

Palette said the boycott was a “bitter pill.”

“I’ve got my lights, but am I going to turn them off? Yes, if that’s what it takes,” he said. “We don’t know how effective the boycott will be, but we had to do some kind of saber rattling.”

If City Council delays their vote, he said, the boycott would be called off immediately.

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