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The Strand Beach parking lot will soon have self-service pay stations installed. Photo: Andrea Swayne
The Strand Beach parking lot will soon have self-service pay stations installed. Photo: Andrea Swayne

By Andrea Swayne

The Dana Point City Council on Tuesday voted to approve the county’s request to change the Strand Vista Park parking lot from free to paid parking.

The council voted 3-0 in favor of the county. Mayor Lisa Bartlett, Mayor Pro Tem Steven Weinberg and Councilman Carlos Olvera were the only three members present. Councilman Bill Brough was absent, attending to duties related to his recent election to the State Assembly. Councilman Scott Schoeffel was in attendance at the closed session prior to the public meeting but left before the regular session due to a family emergency.

The council’s approval overturned, on appeal, a decision by the Planning Commission in September to deny the coastal development permit application by the County of Orange to add pay stations to the park overlooking Dana Strand Beach.

At that Planning Commission meeting, the county also requested the removal of spike strips and the addition of automated gates at the entrance and exit to the lot which will open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight. The Planning Commission approved this request. Susan Brodeur, a senior civil engineer with OC Parks, said both requests were made in order to make lot consistent with other county beach lots, encourage greater turn-around of visitors and in response to community concerns.

Dana Strand Beach is a county beach and the parking lot is currently maintained by the county.

The three councilmembers agreed with the county regarding the reasons for the change.

In stark contrast to the Planning Commission meeting where dozens of residents spoke out against pay stations, only one member of the public spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mark Miller, a resident of Niguel Terrace across the street from the lot, said the change will result in people looking for free parking on the streets, impacting his neighborhood as it is not gated. He also brought up his concerns regarding the county’s recent addition of LED lighting in the lot, saying it lights the place up “like a stadium” and is far from an improvement.

Scott Thomas of the OC Parks planning department said Miller’s comment regarding the LED lighting is the first criticism he’s heard about it and the county will look into it.

Self-service pay stations will be installed on existing pads present in the grassy median areas of the lot. Motorists will be charged $1 per hour to park.

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comments (8)

  • I don’t understand why the Dana Point City Council would be in favor of adding parking meters at Strands. The Council is elected by the citizens of Dana Point and Strands is used a lot by Dana Point residents. The county will be the ones getting revenue and the city residents will be the ones paying for it. We already pay for the maintenance of the lot with our tax dollars. Also, Niguel Terrace will most likely have to add a gate at their own expense and street parking on Selva will increase by non-residents of Niguel Terrace…thus negatively affecting the residents of Dana Point who are the ones who elect the City Council. Unless there is some sort of kick back to the city why would the council unanimously be in favor of this?

  • Only 1 resident showed up to comment on the subject of a reversal of last months paid parking at Strands Beach. I would think that it was because the subject of paid parking was already addressed with the planning commission voting against after hearing numerous residents speaking against the idea. It was a done deal!

    Now it’s put back on a different venu (city council instead of planning commission) at the last minute. Our mayor said the appeal filed by the county was done within the time limit but neglected to say ‘when’ it was filed. I looked and didn’t see it listed on the agenda last week.

    Our mayor also said that one reason for the reversal was that people were camping overnight and paid parking would stop that practice. I thought gates were approved causing her reason to be a non issue.

    The entire reversal idea (to me) seems a very underhanded and tricky move to change what was decided upon to without input or awareness from our citizens.

    Very underhanded indeed.

  • This just blows, And for what? just to pay more council members salaries?
    The one place where just going to the beach was free. Nothing is free in the US , not even freedom.

  • It was only a matter of time. I agree that gates would be a better option. Next step will be metering the city parking also. Just wait and see. 🙂 sad news and a sorry group of city officials.

  • Having moved here three years ago from the Midwest, I’ve since realized Dana Point is controlled by the older retired residents who have to much time on their hands and spend it minding everyone else’s business. They become vocal about anything that they don’t agree with or that may make the community appeal to a younger crowd. Most is inconsequential. You only need to look at the opinion column in this paper, the police blotter that publishes residents concerns, the lack of real focus in getting a skatepark approved, or the Nazi style in which HOAs are managed here.

    This movement to begin charging to park at Strands was evident a year ago when this website published an opinion column where residents voiced issues ranging from people being in the park at night to littering. It was apparent these concerns came from a group of individuals who had too much time on their hands and spent it minding others’ business.

    This group of vocal residents will cost this city the opportunity to progress and be relevant to people spending money here. The fact that Strands is free should be something we celebrate; it says a lot about how visitor friendly a community is when people don’t feel like they are getting nickel and dimed to death. It’s clear, Dana Point wants and needs to attract as many people possible to spend money here with businesses and this could start with beach goers. Hopefully, Dana Point begins to cater to and attract a younger audience who is spending money here and let that begin with free parking when they go to the beach. There is a lot more to lose with this change than there is to gain.

  • I think the city council members acted very unscrupulously. No one knew to show up. How come the public didn’t find out about this until it was already decided? These council members are supposed to represent us?? Why didn’t they inform us? I feel very played and deceived. I will do everything in my power to unseat these people that voted for the fees. It’s sad that to see God’s beautiful landscape we have to dig in our pockets!! This was one of the last places residents could enjoy something beautiful and not have the barrier of parking fees. Shame on those people!!! Does anyone know if there is any way we can try to remedy this? Maybe we are just “SOL”…. Very disappointed.

  • Strand beach need to be a free parking beach. Why can’t we enjoy someplace on planet earth without paying for it. When visiting this beach I appreciate not having to pay for the beautiful view. It’s a shame everything has to be revenue based.

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