On Monday, July 18th, Newport Beach City Council unanimously voted to affirm the very Dock Tax that the 2014 group vowed to “STOP”. The Dock Tax is a clear violation of Prop13 according to the OC Assessor, who sets property value.
The 2014 “Stop the Dock Tax” group consisting of Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Scott Peotter, and of course– Diane Dixon joined in with the 2016 group, consisting of Brad Avery, Will O’Neill, and Jeff Herdman to vote to keep the Dock Tax legal (Duffy recused himself)
But this isn’t the first time the 2014 group has done it, either: In February of 2015, the same group did the same thing again (Duffy gets an excusal because he recused himself there, too).
To be fair, in a 2016 Orange County GOP Central Committee meeting, Scott Peotter promised that the only reason they hadn’t repealed the Dock Tax is because they had “one person who is not a consistently good vote, especially for that” from their 2014 slate. After the 2016 slate won, Team Newport had an additional 2 seats, making for six out of the seven seats on the council– more than enough to push through the agenda to eliminate illegal taxes. But they haven’t. Why?
I wrote the council Sunday evening asking them to explain themselves and Mayor Kevin Muldoon seems to equate affirming a lower Dock Tax rate with eliminating the Dock Tax– which is what he was elected to do, by a landslide. He even went so far as to call the Dock Tax– which he affirmed– a “taking”.
To his credit, Muldoon knew he was walking into a hostile Dock Tax territory by responding to my email. Here is what he said, in its entirety (emphasis mine):
I voted to reduce the residential dock lease rates, commercial dock lease rates, and mooring lease rates (lowering both per linear foot rate and mooring transfer fee) set by the prior Council. The Dock Tax, or residential dock rate increase, passed by the prior Council made the seizing residential docks permissible under City ordinance if the upland adjacent homeowner refused to pay the rate increase. That was a taking, in my opinion. I helped fight against the taking as a private attorney on behalf of the residential dock owners, and when elected, I voted to reduce all lease rates throughout the harbor, while preserving the residential dock owners’ settlement agreement that eliminated the city’s ability to seize residential docks.
The position of property owners in Newport Beach is that this is a clear violation of Prop13 and the entire tax– whether $1 or $1,000– is illegal. Reducing it does not un-violate Prop13. Removing it– what council promised to do during their campaign– is the only option if any of them wish to seek higher office or even realistically defend a re-election campaign with a “promises made, promises kept” slogan.
You can be sure that we will continue to hold everyone accountable– but they need to hear from you, too! Do you think their affirmation of the property-stealing Dock Tax was a good thing or a bad thing? Email them and tell them why, at firstname.lastname@example.org