County to seek public-private partnership for Dana Point Harbor project

DANA POINT — Plans and discussions for an updated Dana Point Harbor have circulated for almost 20 years, but a faint light is appearing at the end of the tunnel after a City Council action and Board of Supervisors announcement both hinted work on the long planned revitalization could be realized in the near future.

Dana Point’s City Council, in hopes to expedite the redevelopment plans, appointed two of its members to liaise with county supervisors to stay up-to-date with project implementation and realize construction of the new harbor.

Two days later Supervisor Lisa Bartlett issued a press release stating Orange County will be seeking a public-private partnership (PPP) to implement Dana Point Harbor’s Revitalization Plan.

Dana Point’s Council Action

Mayor Pro Tem John Tomlinson and Council member Joe Muller were appointed on Oct. 20 to represent Dana Point at the county level and work with Bartlett to realize a revitalized harbor as soon as possible.

A Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for the harbor’s revitalization was approved by the Dana Point City Council on Nov. 18, 2014, which was Bartlett’s last meeting as the city’s mayor; she assumed her post as a county supervisor a few weeks later. Bartlett’s supervisorial district includes Dana Point.

Appointing Tomlinson and Muller to work with Bartlett would, according to city staff, ensure “the development of the project moves forward in a timely manner so the vision of the harbor can be achieved.”

“As part of the process staff would envision a series of briefings to the City Council presented by the supervisor’s staff in order to get up to speed on the progress that has been made to date,” city staff continued. “After receiving the necessary information, staff would then envision that the two council members will be able to work with [Bartlett] to advocate for the full development of the approved Dana Point Harbor CDP in as timely a manner as possible.”

The CDP approved last year called for the phased demolition of existing structures followed by the construction or renovation of office, restaurant and retail space at the harbor. Other improvements included a two-level parking deck, dry stack boat storage building, boat barn and street reconfiguration.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP)

Bartlett stated in an Oct. 22 release the Board of Supervisors is expected to receive a Request for Qualifications for a PPP within the next four months. Supervisors will then seek a firm to execute the harbor revitalization through a Request for Proposals process.

“It is anticipated that all of the improvements constructed would be managed and operated by the developer for the duration of the lease,” Bartlett’s release stated. “In addition to developing and operating the improvements, the developer would professionally administer leases, collect rents and be responsible for all costs associated with running its operations, while paying the county rent based on gross receipts pursuant to leases.”

The Fifth District Supervisor acknowledged planning for the harbor’s revitalization has been a time consuming process and stakeholder meetings would be held to keep boaters and local residents updated of project’s progress.

Looking Ahead

Revitalization of Dana Point’s Harbor has been discussed or planned since 1997, when the Orange County Board of Supervisors created a 23-member task force to look into how the boating and waterfront venue could be redeveloped.

Bartlett, who served on the Dana Point City Council between 2006 and 2014, told The Log earlier this year she hoped construction would begin by fall 2015.

A start to construction at some point this year seemed possible after the California Coastal Commission upheld the harbor’s renovation plans during its January meetings. Construction might not start until at least spring 2016, based upon the timeline presented in Bartlett’s Oct. 22 announcement.

The project’s estimated budget was last projected to be $175 million.

Dana Point staff hailed the harbor as one of the city’s centerpieces.

“Dana Point Harbor is a critical and essential part of the city of Dana Point. Not only does it serve the greater-Dana Point area as a Coastal resource with great restaurants and shops, it has become a destination for whale watching, sportsfishing and recreational boating,” city staff stated. “In addition to serving the 100s of thousands of visitors every year who enjoy the harbor and all that it offers, the Ocean Institute serves as a renowned educational facility that serves over 100,000 students every year.”

Updates of the harbor’s revitalization will be provided as they become public.

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