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TopSeptember 20, 2012

As another summer winds to a close, the seas and weather will cool, our favorite catch will chase warmer waters, and our boats (most of them, anyway) will see less action.  But don't believe for a moment that this means there are not some very important matters still at hand affecting all Dana Point boaters.  By the time the 2013 boating season arrives, several decisions will have been made that will have a profound impact on how you enjoy your boat in Dana Point Harbor.  Your Dana Point Boaters Association leadership encourages you to stay tuned in, watch these matters closely, and remain involved in the evolution of our beloved harbor.


Following are just a few of the pending issues affecting Dana Point boaters...



On August 1st, Orange County Dana Point Harbor (OC DPH) released the final proposed Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the Dana Point Harbor Marina Improvement Project.  At more than 1000 pages, the SEIR included official responses to public comments, many of which requested modifications to the waterside harbor revitalization plan.  On September 26th the Orange County Planning Commission will review the SEIR and consider a recommendation to the Orange County Board of Supervisors to certify the SEIR and incorporate the accepted modifications into the waterside improvement plan. For specific meeting information see the DPBA website by clicking here.


What does this mean to you?  Certification of the SEIR, including the accepted modifications to the waterside revitalization plan, further solidifies what our harbor will look like - and how we use it - for decades to come.  Certification of the SEIR allows OC DPH to proceed with seeking coastal development permits, and on to construction.  Certification - or rejection - of the SEIR is a critical and pivotal step towards our harbor's redevelopment.


During the SEIR public comment period, your Dana Point Boaters Association submitted a recommendation to modify how OC DPH should go about replacing our aged docks and related infrastructure.  Considering the deflated economic environment and diminished funding for the broader Dana Point Harbor Revitalization Plan, DPBA suggested that rather than proceed with outright marina replacement (including the channel narrowing and west marina reconfiguration in the current plan), OC DPH should opt instead for an aggressive repair-and-replace strategy that will still result in both new docks and modernized infrastructure, but at less cost and without the reconfiguration and significant slip loss called out within the existing approved plan.  Your DPBA leadership was pleased to learn that OC DPH has endorsed and recommended adoption of our proposed alternative to the Orange County Planning Commission. 


Your Dana Point Boaters Association now supports certification of the SEIR.


Boat Barn
You may have heard, Orange County Dana Point Harbor plans to replace the Embarcadero dry boat storage yard with a $30 million dry stack storage facility that will stand 65 feet tall and store up to 400 boats. That's about $60,000 per boat in construction costs. Oh, and it won't accommodate trailers. Under the current plan, most existing Embarcadero tenants, if they wish to stay, will be required to discard their trailers or find alternate trailer storage... at their own expense.  The trouble is, during our recent survey of trailer boaters, we found that almost unanimously they want to keep their boats on their trailers. They want the freedom to take their boat to other launching destinations. They want to take their boats home to clean and service them. They want their trailer. They don't want the barn. And at $30 million, this project will consume more than 20% of the $140 million projected budget for the entire harbor revitalization, which includes the shops, restaurants and waterside redevelopment (docks, that is). (Do you have a boat on a trailer? If so, please take our 3 minute survey by clicking here.)

So then why build the barn? Why not just clean up and rehabilitate the existing Embarcadero, but otherwise keep it like it is? It's all about parking. The Harbor needs more parking now, we'll need it during construction of the commercial area - that's the shops and restaurants - when existing parking is displaced, and we'll especially need it in the future for all the Harbor's new visitors. So, to make room for a new commercial parking structure, they're taking some of the boat launch area. But the Coastal Commission has required OC DPH to retain the existing level of trailer boat services. So with less real estate to work with, they're going up. $30 million and 65 feet up. The barn.

Let us be clear, DPBA heartily supports revitalization and rebuilding of the commercial area of our harbor. As Dana Point boaters, we enjoy our shops and restaurants as much as - and probably more often than - anyone else. And we want our shops and restaurants to thrive. Further, we don't necessarily oppose a dry stack storage building in concept. However, we have very deep concerns about the threat the current barn plan poses to practical and affordable trailer boating in our harbor. And what it means downstream to the budget for other phases of the harbor revitalization project, including waterside redevelopment for the 2400+ boats on the water.

So what's the solution? We don't know yet. And there may be no perfect solution. But your DPBA leadership is taking this matter very seriously and is working closely with OC DPH and other stakeholders towards an outcome that protects practical and affordable trailer boating in Dana Point Harbor, supports the commercial area revitalization, and maintains the viability of waterside improvements. We will keep you posted. And as always, we welcome your feedback, questions and ideas. 
West Marina Management Contract 

This seems like old news, but it's still in play...  Two years ago this month Orange County Dana Point Harbor issued a request for proposals (RFP) to manage the West Marina following the expiration of TBW Co.'s management contract.  Standard protocol when a county contract expires.  Four companies submitted bids, including TBW and Dana Point Marina Company, which presently manages the East Marina.  After analyzing the proposals, County staff recommended selection of Dana Point Marina Company (DPMC) to manage the West Marina.  This decision would effectively bring management of both marinas under one firm.  You may recall from our April 14th DPBA Boater Blast, and subsequently in our May 23rd update, that we support unifying east and west marina management.  As we described last spring - and worth clarifying again - we believe the collective Dana Point Harbor boating community is best served by the achievements in cost savings, efficiencies and uniformity that consolidated marina management would bring to our east and west basins.  We appreciate and respect the loyalty some West Marina boaters have to TBW Co., which has admirably served our Harbor since its beginning, and we realize our position is not popular with everybody.  But our position was reached after careful analysis and deliberation over the RFP and related data, and we remain confident that consolidated marina management is the best path for the future of our harbor.


So where does this stand today?  Back in May, consideration of the RFP was removed from the Orange County Board of Supervisors' agenda.  We later learned that some "minor technical details" in the proposals required further review by county staff, and subsequently restricted revisions by the bidders.  We also believe these revisions will likely be inconsequential to county staff's original selection of Dana Point Marina Company.  The revised proposals were submitted to the County in July.  In the meantime, County government has experienced changes in several key players, most notably the CEO, and been consumed by more pressing matters (as you may have read in the news).  However, we are assured that this matter is still underway and will be considered at a future meeting of the Supervisors.  And we hope they don't take too long; based on the projected savings of consolidated marina management, OC DPH loses about $17,000 for every month we wait for the new contract to be approved. Of course we will keep you posted as 


Thank You
At the Dana Point Boaters Association, our mission is to advocate for the preservation, enhancement, and expansion of affordable recreational boating.  We strive to improve the family-friendly atmosphere and breadth of water-oriented activities we all enjoy in our harbor.  As Dana Point boater advocates, our strength comes from your support and participation.  We are proud of the achievements we've made together on behalf of our boating community, and we won't give up.  But we can't do it without you.  If you haven't already, please become a DPBA member.  Join here


Thank you for your support.


For the Board of Directors and Advisors,

James Lenthall, Director

Dana Point Boaters Association

Questions should be directed by email to (  Or call us at (949) 485-5656 and leave a voice mail and we'll get back to you soon.
Dana Point Boaters Association
P.O. Box 461
Dana Point, CA  92629
Mission Statement:
The Dana Point Boaters Association advocates the preservation, enhancement, and expansion of affordable recreational boating resources.  We work to improve the family friendly atmosphere and breadth of water-oriented actives we all enjoy in the harbor.  We serve as the watchdog by ethically protecting the rights of all boaters and representing them when collective action is most effective.  We actively gather information and communicate our views to educate boaters, external interests, and public officials.  We build and maintain constructive, working relationships to achieve common goals with other harbor stakeholders.  We will pass on our harbor to the next generation of recreational boaters in better condition than it is today.