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By Jim Shilander

The Coastal Advisory Commission received additional clarity Thursday on the next steps being taken on a vote to renew the Clean Ocean fee.

The fee is one paid by property owners on a monthly basis that supports a number of initiatives, including cleanup efforts at Poche Beach, urban runoff mitigation and street cleaning. A portion of the funds also go to other city departments to assist them in their own efforts on such issues.

The City Council approved moving forward with an effort to renew the fee August 20. The renewal would include the first increase in the fee since 2002, moving from $5.02 per month for single family residences on public streets to $6.23 each month.

Tom Bonigut, the assistant city engineer, said the increase was necessary to provide the same level of service amidst increases in costs. The council unanimously voiced support for renewal at the meeting.

Bonigut said the City Council will hear any protests, as well as other public comment, on the proposal at its October 15 meeting. If a majority of property owners in the city protest the proposal, an outcome Bonigut said was extremely unlikely, no vote will take place. Within a week, assuming a vote goes forward, ballots would be sent to property owners and would include information on the deadline to send them back.

Bonigut said a mailing sent the city’s property owners about the proposal had brought a large number of calls to the city offices, mostly seeking information about the program, and less about the fee. He added that city staff is staying away from advocating for renewal and just trying to provide information.

The commission also endorsed a grant proposal to improve the beach access site at El Portal. The city engineering department is looking to get additional funding to improve the site, which received temporary repairs earlier this year.

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