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By Melissa Fox, Irvine
Since the creation of the Dana Point Harbor in the early ’70s, the Harbor Park has been a mecca for use by all the citizens of Orange County. The Harbor Park at the west end of the Harbor consists of Baby Beach, two adjacent parking lots and three Cape Cod buildings surrounded by docks. Hundreds of persons daily use the Harbor Park campus to have access to swim, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, paddle outriggers and sail. Instructional programs in maritime skills are provided by the Mariner Sea Scouts, Saddleback College, the Outrigger Club, Westwind Sailing, JSerra Sailing and Dana Hills High School. The rooms of the of the OC Sailing & Events Center are used by every conceivable community group, including Sea Scouts, religious groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, Jazzercise, weddings and community celebrations.
A few years ago the administration of the Harbor Park was removed from the County Beaches, Harbors and Parks Department and placed under the then-newly-created Harbor Department. Now it appears that the Harbor Department is proposing to privatize the buildings in the park for commercial use. If this is allowed to happen, the park would be destroyed and the people of Orange County would lose a valuable access to the use of the Harbor.
The Dana Point Harbor Department refuses to include protections within this request that would prevent the private company from driving out these community-focused organizations through increased rates, or misguided management practices. The refusal to include these protections threatens the continued existence of these organizations and their ability to provide educational and recreational opportunities.
Please sign our petition and the tell the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the city of Dana Point and the California Coastal Commission that you want them to: 1. Direct the Dana Point Harbor Department to withdraw its intention to seek proposals on privatizing the OC Sailing & Events Center; and 2. Direct the Harbor Department to work in harmony with these organizations, in order that they may better serve our community.
The petition can be found at http://chn.ge/1RNinSo.