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Gus Chabre Letter to City Council Finance Committee

From: Leslie Daigle
Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2008 11:47 AM
To: Gus Chabre; Keith Curry; Michael Henn
Cc: NMA; Dave Kiff
Subject: Re: 12/16/08 City of Newport Beach City Council Finance Committee Meeting - Tidelands Economic Analysis

Dear Gus,

Thank you for your thoughtful review of the document and comments.  There are a number of issues that will need to be worked through in the coming months.
I am sending a copy of your comments to Dave Kiff, Assistant City Manager.

Leslie


Dear Council Members,

I would like to add my comments to those that I support which were made on 12/16/08 by TUG, Mark Sites and the lady from Costa Mesa who commented on the overhead rates. Most of my comments center on “An Economic Analysis of Financing Improvements to Tideland Services in the City of Newport Beach - Section 2: Enhancing Economic Benefits from the Tidelands.”

The authors of the report, DeShazo and Hanemann, state “The improvements promise to greatly enhance the flow of benefits directly to tideland-dependent residents and businesses.” I question this premise after reviewing the list of benefits outlined in section 2 of the report:

Enhanced Navigation

  1. Improve sediment source control in the upper bay – clearing and deepening sediment basins.
    This activity is currently underway and its primary goal is to protect the upper bay ecological reserve and the wildlife associated with it. The funding for this activity comes from the federal, state and county governments.
  2. Expand dredging of the upper and lower bay – last completed in 1936.
    The upper bay is currently being dredged as noted above and was dredged approximately 20 years ago with funds provided by federal, state and county governments. Parts of the lower bay have been dredged since 1936 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and by the property owners who front on the lower bay. The dredging of the lower bay has created a large pleasure boat harbor for approximately ten thousand boat owners who pay a yearly unsecured property tax on their boats to the county. I would suggest that some of this tax revenue be used to expand the dredging activities in the lower bay instead of putting the cost on the backs of a few tideland-dependent residents and businesses. Without a navigable lower bay the source of this revenue will dry up.
  3. Perform eco-system rehabilitation of the upper bay – reducing sediment flow to the lower bay.
    Items 1 and 2 are a part of the multi-year, $38 million Upper Newport Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project which is under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is being funded by the federal, state and county governments. It is difficult to understand why the authors of this report believe the tideland-dependent residents and businesses are the primary beneficiary of this activity and should shoulder the costs.

    Boating Improvements

  4. Perform the Mooring Field Evaluation Process to increase navigation safety, correct intolerable spacing, avoid expensive mooring relocation, and revise administrative rules as needed.
    This item should be accomplished since it will improve harbor navigation. The primary beneficiaries of this activity are the people who navigate and moor boats in the harbor and not the tideland-dependent resident and business. Therefore, the unsecured property tax revenue is the proper source to accomplish this task. I attended a meeting where the supervisor of the Orange County Harbor Department stated that this activity is underway and being supervised by her department. Is the City of Newport Beach also spending funds on this activity?
  5. Enhance the Harbor Services Facilities – such as harbor rescue, fire and safety vessels, as well as marine construction barges and dredges.
    The Orange County Harbor Department currently has a large fleet of harbor rescue and fire boats. Why would the City want to purchase these kinds of vessels? The marine construction barges and dredges that operate in the bay are owned by private enterprise. Is the City planning on competing with these businesses which are supported by the tideland-dependent residents and businesses?
  6. Improve Harbor Maintenance Boats and the quality and number of harbor maintenance loading unloading points.
    What is a “Harbor Maintenance Boat”? Are they referring to construction barges and dredges that are operated by many tideland-dependent small businesses referred to in the Netzer & Associates October 31, 2006, File No. 26-019 “Other Tideland Operations”? As you will note, Mr. Netzer states that these businesses are primarily service oriented business operations that are required for the continued use and maintenance of the harbor. Without these service type businesses the harbor would not be as attractive and the businesses that rely on their services could theoretically lose business and the percentage rent that they pay would be reduced.
  7. Improve and expand public dock services and rest room services.
    Why should the tideland-dependent residents and businesses bare the primary cost of this item? This item is directed towards the general public who are the primary beneficiaries of these services.
  8. Increase berthing and temporary storage for smaller vessels.
    This item will increase the Orange County Unsecured Tax revenue and should provide the means to finance its’ cost.

    Enhancing Visitors Services and Infrastructure

  9. Create and implement a marketing plan for the harbor.
    Normally this type of plan is created by a chamber of commerce or a visitor’s bureau which are supported by private funds. The City of Newport Beach has a very active chamber of commerce and visitor’s bureau. Is the City planning to duplicate these organizations?
  10. Create a Newport Harbor Nautical Museum.
    The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum has been established and is supported by private funds. Is the City planning to duplicate this organization?
  11. Create a marina park – thereby increasing public access to the harbor.
    Why is the creation of this city park different from the creation of any other park in Newport Beach? Costs to develop parks in the uplands are not paid for by special fees on the upland-dependent residents and businesses. Why would the City expect the tideland-dependent residents and businesses to pay for the development and maintenance of the Marina Park?
  12. Provide additional short and long term mooring rentals.
    Does the space exist in the bay? If so, it would enhance the harbor.
  13. Provide additional guest docks and small vessel tie-ups?
    Does the space exist in the bay? If so, it would enhance the harbor.
  14. Implement various visitor serving projects including: harbor wide ferry service, multiple vessel mooring systems, and increased availability of restrooms and trash facilities.
    This item seems to be a restatement of several of the items above.

    Improving the Environmental Quality of the Tidelands

  15. Institute Rhine Channel Contaminate Sediment Remediation Plan.
    A Rhine Channel Contaminate Sediment Remediation Plan study has been completed. The scope of the plan will require Federal environmental toxic clean-up funds. Why would there be a need to use City funds and re-coup the costs from the tideland-dependent residents and businesses?
  16. Institute Harbor Area Management Plan focused on management of Eelgrass.
    The Harbor Resources Division has been working on the Eelgrass problem for many years with few results. The growth of Eelgrass in the bay is dependent upon the water and sunlight conditions which is difficult for man to control.

    Improved Code Enforcement

  17. Develop better solutions for a time-limit enforcement of smaller vessels at public docks.
    Is there a problem? The public dock in my neighborhood has a fisherman problem and not a small vessel problem. To use the dock you have to get the fishermen to step aside so you can land a small vessel.
  18. Enhance fire code enforcement at commercial and residential docks.
    Is there a problem? How many fires occur on a dock in the harbor? It is a rare event. If a fire does occur on a dock the Orange County Harbor Patrol fire boat is dispatched to control the fire.
  19. Strengthen Sea lion deterrent measures.
    The Sea lions are protected by Federal law. Can the City control the Sea lion population in the bay?
  20. Better enforce boat encroachments and vessel overhang.
    Is there a problem?
    Many of these improvements/benefits are questionable. I believe that the City Council should question the list of improvements/benefit stated in “Economic Analysis of Financing Tidelands Services” Report before they enact new fees to finance them.
Gus Chabre
<Address, phone withheld for privacy in posting here>