HC Meeting Synopsis 2015-02-23

Draft and approved city staff’s minutes of these meetings are found here as available. For administrative reasons, ad hoc committee dissolved in favor of special noticed meetings of Harbor Commission. Notification of meetings 72 hours ahead for Brown Act purposes. Commissioners Avery, Stapleton, Girling, McIntosh present.

The overall process would look at current rules, fees, transferability; today’s meeting would focus on transferability. Avery noted that he could support transferability as long as there is transparency. At a previous City Council meeting, he mentioned he had personally sold a mooring himself.

Girling asks about limitations and likelihood of State Lands Commission involvement. E.g What is likelihood they would take tidelands management away from City of Newport Beach. Apparently transferability not inconsistent with State Lands policy.

George Hylkema polled attendees, only one got permit from waiting list. He explained his concept of “deposit” for mooring permit, participation in market with expectation of recovering capital. Good faith actions in accordance with City rules. City even participated in market, having sold some moorings (last in 2003).

Richard Dorn spoke to the point of no discrimination in rates, tolls, or charges and unequitable treatment of mooring permit holder versus pier permit holder. Mooring permit holder cannot rent, pays higher per sq. ft. fee than pier permit holder, yet pier permit holder can rent.

Patricia Newton mentions 2013 email from Aaron Harp that no legal problem with transferability, only a question of policy to be decided by Council. The full text of her remarks follows:

Remarks by Patricia Newton

In 2013 City Attorney Aaron Harp sent me an email stating there is no gift of public funds when there is a mooring permit transfer from one individual to another for a fee.

The transfer of mooring permits is a policy question to the City Council and not a legal question.
Aaron Harp, City Attorney, City of Newport Beach
So the basis on which the mooring ordinance was discussed and voted on in 2010 was misleading and wrong.

Allowing transfers of mooring permits using the Avalon model is in keeping with the Tidelands Trust. The overall obligation is the Tidelands be used for purposes in which there is a general statewide interest. The public purpose for both docks and moorings is safe navigation and storage of boats. Residential piers benefit a few residents of Newport Beach whereas moorings are both more affordable and are available to both residents and non-residents. Fees paid to the City for moorings transfers will increase the Tidelands Fund which also benefits all users.

It seems reasonable and fair to allow for the transfer of a mooring permit from one individual to another, just as a residential pier permit is allowed to transfer with the sale of property. Both moorings and residential piers are on Tidelands and must be managed under the Tidelands doctrine.

According to the Tidelands Trust, …the city or successors shall make no discrimination in rates, tolls, or charges for any use or service in connection therewith. This would plainly mean that Tideland users using the Tidelands to essentially an identical degree cannot be treated differently.

The marina index should be eliminated. If the public policy objective is to keep moorings a more affordable option, then using a CPI index which incorporates data from LA, Riverside and Orange County area wages is more appropriate and defensible.

Briefly, I found that using this data and historical payments, adjusting the 2015 rate to $25.37 25.30 would account for CPI adjustments from 1977. Therefore a mooring rate of $25.37 25.30 per foot per year would be reasonable. This rate is comparable to rates charged for moorings in other harbors in California. Click to revised CPI spreadsheet of indicated mooring fees.

For me the value of the mooring is boat storage, there is no profit motive. In 2009 when we arrived in Newport we could not find a suitable berth in the harbor. Acquiring a mooring was a matter of necessity and we believed we would be able to recoup our “deposit”, if we sell our boat in the future. The cost of the mooring is reflective of the demand for boat storage and it was a price we were willing to pay. The affordability has been reduced dramatically and unfairly with the 2010 mooring ordinance and fee structure.

I respectfully request the Harbor Commission recommend adoption of the Avalon Model for mooring transfers and the reduction and revision of the mooring fees and structure. The financial burden imposed by the current mooring ordinance is not justified or fair. Consider the number harmed for the sake of a wait list that has resulted in one person taking advantage of moorings made available.

Derelict boat issue is a problem that is hard to work with; Harbor Commission acknowledges difficulty.

John Fradkin suggests City operate some form of auction, create market for moorings. Further suggested City could offer low–interest loans to buy moorings.

Reiteration of perspective that people bought in with good faith (possibly even from City which had itself sold moorings, last in 2003) were unfairly treated by elimination of transferability.

Megan Delaney advocates free market, advocates concept of dependable mechanism. Notes Avalon 5% transfer fee.

Avery notes that the clear majority want transferability restored.

Concept of selling for more than you paid discussed. Transfer fee returns value to the public, the dollar amount of the transfer falls where it may. Santa Barbara opted to preserve transferability of slip permits in its municipal marina because of the return of value to the public from transfer fees.