Measure Z: Direct Arguments and Rebuttal Arguments

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Shall the Newport Beach City Charter be amended to add Section 713 to the City Charter, establishing the powers and duties of the Harbor Commission and making the Harbor Commission a City Charter designated Appointive Board and Commission?







Newport Harbor is the jewel of our city.   

An area that started a hundred years ago as mud flats and swamps has transformed into the largest recreational harbor on the west coast.  Homes and business line its shores, boats and paddlers enjoy its tranquility, and wildlife has returned to increasingly cleaner water. 

Our city’s economic analysis shows that our Harbor supports 1,100 businesses employing 9,200 workers and generates $391 million in economic activity for the city.  Our city’s General Plan describes Newport Harbor as a “vital component of Newport Beach’s natural resources, community identity, and economy.” 

Harbor operations are complex and regulated by thirteen federal, state and local agencies.   

The city established the Harbor Commission in 2002 by ordinance to advise our City Council on operational, environmental and regulatory issues that control the Harbor.   

The need for the Harbor Commission’s specific expertise was evident recently when the Commission spent three years preparing a comprehensive revision to our Harbor Code to reflect today’s modern uses and regulations. 

Just like the Arts Commission and Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission, Measure ___ places the Harbor Commission in the City Charter, protecting it from future political whims. 

We believe the Harbor Commission’s work should continue unfettered by future local politics.  Measure ___ does that. 

We ask for your Yes vote on Measure ___.


Mayor Will O’Neill
Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery
Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield


PDF of Direct Argument In Favor of Measure



The council member proponents say voter endorsement of this poorly-written measure is necessary to place the powers and duties of the Harbor Commission beyond the political whims of future councils.

Yet they ask voters to approve language that fails to do that. It continues to limit the Commission’s oversight authority to what future councils assign it through the Municipal Code. And it does not clarify if the Commission’s advice will now be required, not merely available, before future councils can take action on the matters listed.

In its life so far, the most egregious example of a council completely bypassing the Commission was the creation of a Tidelands Management Committee in 2013, which relied on a completely different panel of citizens to prioritize harbor expenditures. The present language does nothing to prevent future councils from doing the same. Indeed, it omits entirely the Commission’s existing responsibility to advise on harbor spending, added to its duties when the council finally disbanded the TMC in 2017.

And given we have a recreational harbor with beaches, this does nothing to resolve the existing uncertainty about the division of labor between the council-created Harbor Commission and the pre-existing Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission which voters long ago empowered though the Charter. The two need to be revisited together.

Most importantly, it is our Charter. And the people, not the council, decide what goes in it.

The people should reject all poorly-written, inadequately-reviewed additions, however well intentioned.

Vote NO.


James M. (“Jim”) Mosher, a Newport Beach voter 


PDF of Rebuttal to Direct Argument 





The city charter is the people’s binding blueprint for how they expect their local government to be run.

Changes to it should be carefully considered and thoroughly debated before putting them to a vote. Yet, the city council in Newport Beach has a history of placing poorly-considered changes before the people.

The present proposal is no exception.

If placing the powers and duties of the Harbor Commission in the charter were necessary, which it is not, it would be a time for careful review and reconsideration of exactly what those powers and duties should be. But this proposal, written by an author unknown and rushed to the ballot months before necessary, has received absolutely zero public discussion or review -- not even by the existing Harbor Commission. In fact, the Council’s wordless vote on May 12 to place this on the ballot was taken without the agenda mentioning such a proposal was being considered, or any announcement such action had been taken.

As to its unvetted substance, the City Attorney assures us the measure simply moves that Commission’s current powers and duties into the charter, where they cannot be changed except by the voters. But this is not true. The language is not the same.

The only question asked on May 12 was by me, and it was: should voters approve this, does it mean all subsequent harbor-related matters going before the Council must be accompanied by a recommendation from this newly-voter-empowered Harbor Commission? The response from the council: silence.

When the public is asked to vote yes or no on charter language that was developed with no public discussion or review, and whose meaning even its proposers don’t seem to know, the answer is simple: vote NO.


James M. (“Jim”) Mosher, a Newport Beach voter


PDF of Direct Argument Against the Measure


Newport Beach voters elect our City Council to make well-informed decisions on issues important to the City.  In Newport Beach, one of the most important issues is how we run and manage our Harbor. 

The Harbor truly is the jewel of our City.  Our Harbor Commission’s function is to advise the City Council on our most valuable recreational and economic asset. The Commission’s seven members are appointed by the City Council for their expertise in in water quality, boating, land use, recreation and marine safety. They are volunteers with a deep commitment to the Harbor. 

This Charter amendment will ensure that the Harbor Commission’s advice continues to be dispensed.  Nothing more; nothing less. 

Voters have already decided that the Planning Commission, Arts Commission, and Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commissions were worthy of Charter protection.  The Harbor Commission should be afforded the same status. 

This is especially true now and in the years to come.  This City Council has placed more emphasis on updating and modernizing the Harbor than those in previous decades.  The Harbor Code has been rewritten thanks to years of effort by the Harbor Commission and the City created a new Harbor Department.  Measure ___ will cement our City’s commitment. 

The jewel of our city has a bright future.  Please join us in voting YES on Measure ____.


Mayor Will O’Neill 
Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery 
Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield


PDF of Rebuttal Argument Against Measure