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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.