SEIR Approved by OC Planning Commission
Wednesday the Orange County Planning Commission voted unanimously (with one absentee abstention) to recommend to the OC Board of Supervisors certification of the Subsequent Environment Impact Report (SEIR) for the Dana Point Marina Improvement Plan. It will next be forwarded to the Supervisors for certification. We applaud the planning commissioners for approving the SEIR, and congratulate Orange County Dana Point Harbor on their success. Because this is good news for Dana Point Boaters. And we urge quick action by the Supervisors to certify the SEIR.
Certification of the SEIR is an essential step towards seeing our aged and crumbling docks finally rebuilt; rejection of the SEIR would have set revitalization of our marina back many months, or longer. But to be clear, certification of the SEIR will not allow OC DPH to begin construction of our new marina. Instead, certification of the SEIR will allow OC DPH only to begin designing the details of what our new marina will look like...with your input. Then, with specific construction plans in hand, OC DPH will seek coastal development permits (CDPs) from the California Coastal Commission (CCC), which will require additional public hearings... with your input. Your Dana Point Boaters Association leadership will continue working closely with OC DPH on the design of our next generation marina, and we will keep you involved every step of the way.
The Orange County Planning Commission also approved two "project refinements" that were outlined in the SEIR, both in response to public comments to the original EIR. The first refinement removed a plan to extend additional docks into the west basin adjacent to Baby Beach; this was in response to objections - mostly by human-powered watercraft users - to proposed obstructions of the HPW launch area. The second approved project refinement was in response to a proposal by DPBA to reconsider how our marina is is to rebuilt. The current Marina Improvement Plan (approved by CCC and included in the original EIR) was the product of numerous Boater Focus Group meetings, where the design of our future marina was tweaked and tuned based on input from various and competing user groups. Unfortunately this process yielded a final plan that, in our opinion, did not significantly transform our Harbor for the future. Yet it included elements that proved unpopular with boaters, such as narrowing the main channel and reconfiguring the West Marina to match the East Marina. And on top of that, the final plan came with a huge bill: roughly $80 million of boater money!
Considering the deflation of the economic environment since the original marina plan was approved by CCC, and the likely diminished funding for the Harbor Revitalization Plan, your Dana Point Boaters Association submitted a proposed alternative to aggressively replace and modernize our existing docks - in mostly the same configuration that it exists today - in lieu of demolishing and rebuilding the entire marina. Our proposal, approved yesterday by the Planning Commission, retains most of the boater-friendly elements of the original plan (new, modern docks!), avoids main channel narrowing and West Marina reconfiguration, and with less environmental impact and huge savings. Likely more than $20 million in savings. That's boater money! And another big benefit: we get our new docks much sooner than the original plan.
But the devil is in the details. And with the SEIR near certification, we can finally get busy with those details, and build the marina that you deserve... with your input.
Also, during the Planning Commission hearing, we made it clear to the commissioners that the Dana Point Boaters Association continues to have significant concerns with the landside (restaurants, shops, parking) redevelopment plan. We also made a commitment to continue working closely with Orange County Dana Point Harbor and other stakeholders to resolve boater concerns. And if we feel that our concerns are not adequately addressed and resolved, we will make our objections known in the proper forum, such as future Planning Commission and California Coastal Commission building permit hearings. At the conclusion of the meeting on Wednesday, Elizabeth Hall - Commission chairperson and 5th district (our district) representative - commended OC DPH and other participants for our constructive cooperation. Because that's how forward progress is made.
As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.