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Newport Beach Moorings News Release

City Council to Vote November 23rd—Be Heard

NMA MEMBERS:

Please be advised that members of the press are now seeking interviews with individual NMA members regarding mooring rates and mooring transfers.  Please direct all inquiries to Bill Moses, who can be reached via NMA’s counsel, Greg Hatton at 949-474-4222. Learn more from the updated mooring fees page.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

FROM: Newport Mooring Association (NMA)
RE: Mooring Rates & Transfers
DATE: November 15, 2010

NMA represents the owners of most boats tied to moorings in Newport Harbor.  NMA appreciates the growing public interest in mooring rates issues now before the Newport Beach City Council. 

NMA’s primary concern is with the annual fees that the City of Newport Beach charges the owners of moored boats  to store their boats on the public waterway in Newport Harbor. These fees already exceed the annual storage charges for moored boats in other similar southern California harbors. NMA is also concerned that the current rate structure in Newport Harbor unlawfully discriminates against the owners of moored boats.

There are just over 1000 boats stored at moorings in Newport Harbor.  In contrast, there are over 2000 boats stored at private docks (known as “private piers”) in front of waterfront properties.  The City allows the owners of boats tied to private piers to store them on the bay free of charge.  This appears to be an unconstitutional gift of public property to the owners of boats stored at private piers.

At the same time, the City charges the owners of moored boats an average of $800 per year to store their boats on Newport Harbor.  The City’s decades-long rate discrimination against moored boat owners, and in favor of the owners of boats tied to private piers, is prohibited under state law (section 1(d) of the Tidelands Grant).

Boat storage is the primary use of the bay.  On any given day, over 8000 citizens are storing a boat on Newport Harbor. In contrast, only several hundred citizens are actually boating on the harbor at any one time.

The law requires the City to obtain fair storage charges from the owners of all boats stored on Newport Harbor.  Rate discrimination is costing the public’s Tidelands funds over $3 million per year.

NMA has submitted a proposal to the City Council establishing lawful, non-discriminatory rates for the owners of all boats stored on the bay.  NMA’s proposal, if adopted, would immediately raise Tidelands revenues from boat storage (excluding revenue from commercial and city-owned marinas) from $800,000 per year to roughly $4 million per year --- simply by requiring the owners of all boats to pay fair value for the right to store their boat on the public waterway.  Under NMA’s proposal, all boat owners who benefit from storing their boats on Newport Harbor would pay their fair share of the rapidly rising cost of maintaining the bay as a navigable and ecologically sound public waterway.

NMA urges the Newport Beach City Council to put NMA’s proposal on its November 23, 2010 agenda, and to ensure full and complete participation from all boat owners in keeping our harbor clean, and open to the boating public.

Finally, NMA takes no position on the value of a mooring permit.  A mooring permit allows a boat owner to store a boat at a designated mooring on the public waterway for one year.  Historically, these permits have taken on value when transferred privately from one boat owner to another.  Although the City of Newport Beach has been aware of the “transfer value” of moorings for decades --- even auctioning vacant moorings itself on occasion --- the City retains the right to regulate the transfer of mooring permits.

NMA is concerned that the City is now relying on the private transfer value of mooring permits to justify ongoing rate discrimination against the owners of moored boats.  NMA’s rate proposal puts an end to decades of rate discrimination on the bay, while at the same time allowing the City to regulate mooring transfers.  Mooring transfers and boat storage rates are separate and unrelated issues, and NMA urges the City to treat them that way.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

NMA Secretary Bill Moses

c/o NMA Counsel

Greg Hatton

949-474-4222