By Kristina Pritchett
The Dana Point City Council approved a zone text amendment that would allow the potential use of retractable gates in three locations in the Strands community.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Council voted unanimously in favor of sending a local coastal program amendment to the California Coastal Commission to allow for the potential use of retractable gates at the Central Strand—upper and lower—and the mid-Strand locations.
The Planning Commission approved to send the recommendation to the Council in July, voting five to zero in favor of the gates for security and public safety.
Many residents who spoke during public portion Tuesday night said they were in favor of the gates.
Kevin Darnall, president of the Strand’s homeowners association, previously spoke at the Planning Commission and again during the Council meeting and said the Strands residents were in favor of the gates.
He said the residents have seen people coming up through the community, climbing over construction walls and there has been ongoing crime where they have to call the police.
“I think it’s important the city endorse the hours of operation and the only practical way is the use of gates as proposed,” Darnall told the Council.
Dana Point resident David Buckanavage told the Council he’s lived in the Strands for four and a half years and says the gates would be a benefit for the residents.
“Police can’t be there 24 hours,” Buckanavage said. “The gates should be closed when the beach is not in operation.”
In April, the California Coastal Commission staff recommended a settlement agreement, which put an end to six years’ worth of litigation over the gates and closing times. The settlement included an agreement to modify the local coastal development program to include the approval of designated hours and operations for the access areas.
City staff members told the Council that the Local Coastal Program Amendment (LCPA) would only allow a potential use and does not mean construction would begin immediately.
City staff also stated the potential gates would not include the two trails, the switchback trail and the revetment trail, that provide 24-hour access. The three areas that could have the retractable gates are operational between 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
The zone amendment will make its way to the California Coastal Commission for review. City staff said, if approved, it will come back to the city as a local coastal permit.