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By Andrea Swayne
Orange County supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-1, with board Chairman Todd Spitzer absent and Supervisor Michelle Steel dissenting, to offer additional financial assistance to the Dana Point Harbor Association for an outreach program aimed at encouraging continued shopping at area businesses during the upcoming Dana Point Harbor revitalization project construction, expected to take five years.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett (Dana Point) pushed for the use of $13,455 from a fund generated in part by harbor merchants to extend the county’s help with promoting harbor businesses.
Business owners in the Harbor agreed to contribute an additional $6,000 to the agreement between the county and the Harbor Association in place since 1975 to share expenses related to promoting Harbor-based businesses.
Supervisor Steel disagreed with the decision, calling it “bothersome” because the vote would give the Harbor Association “more than they requested” and arguing that merchants are already getting rent reductions due to construction.
Brad Gross, Dana Point Harbor director, responded noting that reduced rents are not automatic but instead tied to a drop-off in business and the association is charged with promoting the entire Harbor, not just the merchants.
The vote extends the contract by two years, with the county contributing just over $153,000, or 79 percent of the costs, with the association kicking in the rest.
“It’s a five-year project that’s starting in the fall, so now’s the time to start that outreach,” Bartlett said, referring to the funds as “money well invested.”