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John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point
John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point

Guest Opinion: By John Tomlinson, Mayor, Dana Point

Strand Beach is one of the many jewels in Dana Point’s crown. Formerly a private beach, it was required to be made public several years ago as part of the city’s approval of the Headlands development east of the beach. There are now four footpaths to this newly dedicated public beach, as well as a “funicular” near the north end of the beach, which provides a free tram ride from the parking lot above down the steep slope to the beach. Since Strand Beach was made public, it has constantly had open, public access from the north as well as the south end of the beach. The issue of controversy was the ability for the public to access the beach during nighttime hours through the middle of the private property at the Headlands.

In the interest of balance, your Dana Point City Council has forged both a literal as well as figurative middle path to provide additional public access to the beach, while protecting public safety and private property rights. We have worked hard over the past seven months collaborating with Coastal Commission staff, and have reached a legal settlement that allows the public access to the beach through the middle of the private property at the Headlands from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. We believe this compromise accommodates the concerns of all interested parties by keeping safety a top priority by closing the path through the private property from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., while at the same time ensuring the public continues to always have access to the beach.

But we didn’t stop there. The city’s agreement also provides trail improvements and natural habitat restoration along the trails for the public to enjoy. The city will also work with the Ocean Institute to provide greater opportunities for disadvantaged students from Title 1 schools to learn about the importance of marine habitat protection.

Once the revised hours of access are approved by the Coastal Commission, the city plans to install enhanced signage at several of the beach access points at the Headlands to notify the public of the new expanded hours.

As the city manager said last week, the Dana Point City Council is a fierce defender of private property rights. However, the law is clear that property near the coast must not infringe on the public’s right to access our coastline. The city feels strongly that our settlement agreement with the Coastal Commission upholds both the rights of the public to access the beach as well as the rights of private property owners.

President Ronald Reagan had a sign in his office that read, “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” The city has put forth an olive branch to the Coastal Commission and environmental groups, to resolve this long-standing conflict. We ask these groups as well as Dana Point residents and visitors to communally join us in celebrating this plan that was agreed upon in a collaborative process. We hope the Coastal Commissioners will support this agreement reached between our city and their staff. If approved, it will provide all Californians with even greater public access to the previously private Strand Beach as well as other enhancements that will further protect the natural habitat in the area and educate the next generation to value the protection of this amazing coastal resource.



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comments (4)

  • Mr. Tomlinson,
    I don’t even know where to begin. Your pathetic attempt to whitewash the city’s monumental waste of hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to fight in the interest of a developer over the rights if the citizens to access a pubic beach . Or, the equally ridiculous assertion that the city offered an olive branch after losing in court 4 times. By the way, it has always been a county public beach(you would know that if you lived here prior to 2005). Now out of the goodness of our citys council’s corrupt black heart, it has agreed to spend MORE taxpayer money ($300K) to bus kids in from Riverside to the Ocean Institute. As laudable as this endeavor sounds, is this really what our city tax dollars are for ? I am sure it was either this or pay the monster fines the city was on the hook for breaking the law and putting up the gates in the first place.
    Nice try at spinning it though Tomlinson . Did Sanford Edward approve this dribble before you submitted it to the paper? Or maybe you had the city attorney work up a rough draft so he could bill more hours at Rattan and Tucker where he works. No conflict of interest there.
    Where did you you live before you moved to Dana Point in 2005, Bell ? Placentia?

  • Dana Point ciry council should be put under federal investigation for taking tax payers dollars and paying to protect rich afffluent neighborhoods instead of its citizens. What happened and is happening at Strands is illegal by court ruling. The ciry council spent well over 1.5 million dollars to strip tax payers of access to their public beach. We have this thing called police in our communities to protect people when things go wrong and no neighborhood should be given special priveledge just because they are afffluent. It is disgusting and I hope every single o e of them is investigated and then hung out to dry.

  • Thank you Larry Willett for calling out Tomlinson’s comments. It is disturbing that the Mayor has the ignorance and audacity to publish this article. It appears that he and the people behind him think the rest of us are stupid.

    1. Fact – Strands was NOT a private beach. It has been a County beach for many years prior to the Strand housing development. It was not required to be made public as part of the development agreement. Does Tomlinson, who is an attorney, read anything the staff offers him as background before making decisions or presuming to speak?Does staff read what he says in the name of the city before he publishes it?

    2. Tomlinson delivers a bogus narrative about how the Council has forged a path to provide more access and worked hard collaborating with the Coastal Commission, blah blah. The truth is that the city spent a lot of taxpayer money to the benefit of a private entity, Headlands LLC. It fought the Coastal Commission essentially on Headlands behalf for over 6 years and finally threw in the towel after losing their fourth court case on the subject. City policy on this matter was profoundly wrong and unethical. Tomlinson contrives to make it look benign and in the public interest. The courts forced our council to take the actions they now portray as a collaborative effort. Judges called them out on the specious premises the city advanced in court and the contrived emergency ordinance they wrote to support their action. The dishonesty that flows from our city staff and council on this matter needs to stop. The public is not fooled.

    3. Portraying the trail improvements and habitat restoration as just another gracious action by our city is also dishonest. The taxpayers of the city are paying over $300,000 in mitigation for the city’s previous behavior and pretending other wise is more dishonesty. Glad we have trails and habitat restoration but be honest. This is more like when drunks work off their sentence by picking up litter on the side of the road.

    The Mayor, his fellow councilmen and their predecessors, the city manager and city attorney screwed this up badly. Time for accountability. Maybe a one time large legal fees refund from Rutan and Tucker? Maybe a new city manager?

  • I’m seeing what “trickle down economics” theory really is: Samueli, Clooney, Striesand & Saudi royal, etc $$$>>Edward>>City Officials = Taxpayers Pays Costs. Once again the “trickle” DP taxpayers are getting is warm, has a yellow tint and stinks.

    Now explain to me that “Magic Bullet” theory their corporate media touts again and again. I do know both of these theories were concocted after-the-fact to serve an unspoken purpose…..

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