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May June 2019 Marina World

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COVER STORY: DANA POINT P3 cures planning paralysis at Dana Point by Robert Wilkes It is now more than 60 years since the transition from wood to glass fibre - the most pivotal event in boating history. Efficient production attracted millions to the water where they embraced a lifestyle of which their grandparents could only dream. Municipalities responded by building immensely popular landmark marinas - the crown jewels of the waterfronts. The Marina at Dana Point in Southern California is a prime example. Currently at 2,409 slips, the marina, built in the 60s and 70s, is the largest on the west coast. Located in the southern part of Orange County, the harbour is conveniently connected by the I-5 freeway and Pacific Coastal Highway to a huge population of outdoor-loving Californians. Cruising destinations such as Catalina Island, Newport Beach and San Diego are nearby, and the cliffside location makes Dana Point Harbor an iconic place. Two decades of planning Dana Point Marina reached its useful life decades ago and is long overdue for renovation. County staffers began planning for revitalisation in 1997. The years dragged on. A major point of contention was the scope of the project. Early proposals included vastly expanding retail, reducing boat slips by about a thousand, and raising the average slip length from 30ft (9m) to 40ft (12m). How much change to the culture of Dana Point Harbor was appropriate? A planning paralysis set in. Meanwhile, docks decayed, piles loosened (some docks held up the pile, rather than the other way around), and frayed electrical systems were increasingly inadequate to serve modern boats. The wait time for slips 40ft (12m) and over held steady at ten to 20 years. Sea lions caused havoc on the already fragile docks. The 1970 era bathrooms were less than charming. Focusing on redevelopment Dana Point Harbor was established under the Dana Point Tidelands Act of 1961. What the county is able to do with its waterfront is determined by the California Coastal Commission and expressed through a Local Coastal Plan (LCP). The LCP for the existing marina dated from the 1960s. Any deviation requires an amendment, and that can take years. Orange County planners worked closely with the Dana Point Boaters Association (DPBA) throughout the planning process. After more than 12 years of effort, a plan was submitted that preserved small slips and maintained essentially the same retail footprint. In 2009, Orange County finally had its amended LCP for Dana Point. “Small slips for entry-level boaters were a priority,” said James Lenthall, the current president of DPBA. “The amendment allows no fewer than 2,296 slips, down from the 2,409 we have now. The average slip length will be 32ft (9.7m) as compared to 30ft (9.1m) today.” Under Orange County regulations, revenues from the harbour stay in - May/June 2019 31

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