I remember when I started writing about the tidelands tax — the residents with docks on the bay were quiet. Oh, Mike Henn, it is a tax, but I agree with you on no boycott of the parade. I mentioned that once the commercial, marina and yacht clubs were taxed, the city would be coming after the residential docks. Well, the time has come.
In most other harbors, the property owners paying tideland taxes receive benefits such as docks, bulkheads, parking and dredging. Yet in Newport Harbor, the property owners have to pay for everything, and do not mention the useless eel grass mitigation program. Guess what — after you dredge, the eel grass grows back, so why the costly, unproductive mitigation program?
However, I digress. Where does the current tidelands revenue go now? We need to see an accounting of where that money is spent — hopefully it is not funding the ocean lifeguards' unfunded pension liability.
Raising the tax to the fair market value is subjective and not quantitative in real terms. The reason is that there is a huge difference in calculating the tax for Newport Harbor versus other harbors. First, those who buy a piece of property with a dock will pay a lot more for the purchase price, and thus pay more in property tax. So a $2-million waterfront property without a dock pays 1% (excluding assessments, etc.) of property assessment, which calculates to be a minimum of $20,000 a year in property tax. Yet if that same property had a dock, the property valve would increase to $2.5 million. Now, the lucky property owner will pay $25,000 in property tax, dredging, dock repair, et al.
Second, and very important, is that the property owner paying the tidelands tax will receive no increase in benefits or services. Will the city repair the owner's dock, dredge the slip or help with seawall repairs? Nope.
However, I do have an issue with Bob McCaffrey and his Stop the Dock Tax organization boycotting the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. I was known as the voice of the parade for years, and the parade is organized by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, not the city.
By boycotting the parade, Bob and his group are hurting the homeowners and businesses that this very tax is hurting. The parade is an economic shot in the arm to local businesses and a wonderful event for people to watch and enjoy. Why would this organization attack the parade to make a statement to the city? You are only hurting your allies, and maybe decreasing, a little, the sales tax revenue to the city.
This is the wrong tactic and it hurts the wrong people. How can boycotting the parade change the tidelands tax discussion? I understand that most people do not know that the Chamber of Commerce organizes the parade, yet attacking the parade? Really? This organization has lost my support by trying to hurt our local businesses and ruin a tradition of more than 100 years. Take your issue to the City Council, not the people of the harbor area.
I do not understand why the chamber, and especially the Marine Committee, has been quiet on this important issue. The chamber and its Marine Committee should be vocal, yet I have not seen any commentary or letters to the editor from the chamber. Sad state of affairs when a dock tax is being raised and there is a call to boycott the parade, but no word from our local chamber.
Tip of the week is the Daily Pilot's 103 list is being prepared and there is a call for nominations. After finally making the list last year, I am now once again excluded. The reason is that a columnist for the Pilot cannot be considered for the list.
Lastly, my captain's hat is off to the loss of life to one of our Coast Guard crew members on the Halibut. As I have mentioned in previous columns, the drug smugglers are dangerous running in our waters and now they have killed a Coastie. My prayers are with his family, friends and workmates.
It is time to secure our waterfront borders, and recreational boaters are targets as well.
And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sundays.
MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to email@example.com or go to http://www.boathousetv.com.