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The Harbor Report: Tax waves rolling in

March 20, 2012|By Len Bose

This week I am going to use a surfing analogy to explain my harbor observations. I hung my surfboard up years ago because I never was very good at surfing.

For those of you who do not surf, a set is a group of three waves. Sometimes sets hit the beach with very little time in between them. Quite often, I would find myself riding some small wave in, then turn to look back out to sea and notice a lineup of two huge sets rolling in. There I would be, getting pummeled by the white wash of each breaking wave while paddling back outside, trying to keep my head above water.

Now I am not sure if any of you have looked out to sea recently, but I am starting to feel like an overweight surfer on a very short board. No matter how hard I paddle, it seems like I am not getting anywhere and the next big wave is coming in. In this analogy, the waves are the proposed tideland tax increases.

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I was able to "duck dive" under the white wash of the mooring permits increase and Basin Marina slip increases. In these hard economic times, I am doing my best to lose weight, but my board keeps getting smaller. I know the water is cold, but have you noticed how few boats are on the moorings and how many open slips there are in the Basin Marina?

The next wave is approaching, and it seems to have the marina operators' name on it for a tax increase of 20% of their gross income, plus an additional 4% for capital improvements. That's some really cold water that could turn into harbor hyperthermia. The idea that the city of Newport Beach accountants will need to audit each marina operator and look through their books does not make me feel any warmer either.

For what it's worth, here is my recommendation for the city and the marina operators. Split the difference and only take 10% of their gross revenue and graduate the rate increase similar to the mooring permit increase.

Drop the 4% capital improvement clause and enforce the city marine codes. While you are at it, cut out the lease agreement. That feels more like a short leash on my surfboard that will just bounce back and hit me in the head.

Don't look now but here comes the next set of waves!

On the agenda is the Other Commercial Harbor Permitees and Residential Pier Fees. I am assuming that our shipyards, fuel docks, charter boat fleet and boat rentals are listed under Other Commercial Harbor Permitees?

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