By Andrea Swayne
Upon learning of the intention of the County of Orange to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a private company/independent contractor to assume management of the OC Sailing & Events Center at the Dana Point Harbor, groups utilizing the center for sailing/maritime lessons and rentals, community group meetings, exercise classes, etc. are protesting the move.
Groups currently utilizing the facility, such as Westwind Sailing and the Mariners 936 Sea Scouts, have launched social media campaigns, including a petition, asking for help from the public with making their dissatisfaction with the county’s decision known to county leaders. The move, they contend, puts their businesses/organizations in jeopardy, as they believe a private company would be able to do with the center whatever it wants and could either remove them from the center or price them out of it.
Lisa Bartlett, Orange County Supervisor 5th District, confirmed the county is currently in the process of drafting an RFP that is seeking a company to manage the OC Sailing & Events Center building and grounds and the west side docks (on the Baby Beach side). The RFP does not include Baby Beach, docks on the opposite side of the Event Center, parking lots or the grassy park/picnic area.
The RFP is expected to go out to bid within the next 60 to 90 days, she said, to test the market for interest, and the move will likely be wrapped up within the next six months.
Bartlett also expressed concern with a large amount of misinformation going around and said that the county has a commitment to continue offering community serving programs at the Center.
“What many don’t realize is that the county has been subsidizing it in the amount of about $300,000 per year to keep it open,” Bartlett said. “When you take a look at the facility itself, it can definitely use some enhancements and I think the possible addition of a concessionaire or other services will enhance the business model so that it can operate with long-term stability … The county is receptive to listening to all the stakeholders as part of the process. The RFP will be a very fair process and we will keep our commitment to have community serving programs at the Center.”