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Dock fee opponents seek state review

Mansoor's office will analyze whether to take the contentious issue to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

May 09, 2013|By Jill Cowan

State legislators may soon be asked to referee the ongoing scuffle between the city of Newport Beach and residential dock owners.

Opponents of the dock fee increases are calling for a review of the way the city spends revenues generated in its management of public tidelands. They want a review by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which investigates policy, finances and other matters and then passes recommendations on to the Legislature.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), who found himself on the receiving end of both that request and a response from the city roundly dismissing the claims made by opponents, said Wednesday that his staff will analyze whether to take the issue to the committee in coming days.

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"I think it's fair to say we want to thoroughly review it," he said. "We're giving it the due diligence it deserves."

A representative for state Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), whom the association has also contacted for legislative support, said Thursday that Walters' staff will also look into the issue before deciding whether it warrants review by the committee.

Everett Rice, her spokesman, said that while a Walters staff member did speak against the fee increase at a City Council hearing, the senator's main concern was that the fee be properly implemented.

The Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn. late last month sent a "Tidelands Fund White Paper," claiming that the city has been misusing revenue generated in the city's management of state-owned tidelands to Mansoor and Walters, "for possible review by the joint legislative audit committee."

The group has said for months that it's seeking such an audit.

"We believe [city officials] regularly violate the terms and conditions of the Tidelands Grant," the report says. "The tidelands trust is not a piggybank for the city to use when the public and state officials are not watching."

But last week, Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry sent Mansoor a rebuttal to the report and issued a claim-by-claim refutation.

Curry said in an interview that the association's report was "outrageous" and largely false.

"The continued charges by Bob McCaffrey become more and more outrageous and untruthful every time they send a new press release," Curry said, referring to the Stop the Dock Tax group leader.

McCaffrey said the city has been disagreeing with his group, regardless of what its members says.

"When we say white, they're going to say black," he said.

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