Boater’s Harbor Plan Appeal Denied by Council
By Andrea Papagianis
Orange County’s long discussed project to renovate the Dana Point Harbor’s commercial core moved closer to breaking ground Tuesday night as the City Council unanimously denied an appeal from recreational boaters of the Planning Commission’s development permit approval.
The estimated $140 million project will see the demolition of 13 commercial structures and the construction of seven new, adding 30,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space. Plans also include a 35,000-square-foot waterfront park and a two-level parking structure with 545 spaces.
Planning Commissioners approved the project May 12 in a 4-to-1 vote. An appeal from Bruce Heyman, president of Boaters 4 Dana Point Harbor, quickly followed.
Tuesday’s meeting at the Dana Point Community Center was packed with speakers on both sides of the issue. Those favoring the project, including Harbor business owners, said the project had been vetted over the last 17 years through numerous community meetings and concessions had already been made.
For others, mainly local boaters, concerns remained regarding parking and dry-boat storage facilities that will be impacted during construction—when such storage is expected to move offsite. Additionally, many raised concerns over the county’s proposed construction of a $30 million boat storage facility and asked for a full-disclosure of finances to ensure boaters aren’t paying a disproportionate share of the project’s cost.
Revitalization talks began in 1997 and over the years some 150 public meetings have been held. Since the Harbor lies on the coast, is owned by the county and falls within city limits, it is subject to oversight from the California Coastal Commission, Orange County and the city of Dana Point.
Tuesday, council members told those in opposition their concerns would be better addressed by the Coastal Commission. It is something Heyman, and others, hoped to avoid due to lengthy delays. An appeal to the Coastal Commission has to be made within 10 days.