DANA POINT — Mandatory dues are a thing of the past for Dana Point Boaters Association (DPBA), which as of recent has been shifted to a donation-based fundraising plan. While the organization is 100 percent funded by boaters’ donations, the DPBA believes the boating community is best served when everyone has access to the right information and assistance, said James Lenthall, vice president of DPBA.
“Every penny we raise will be used directly on protecting and advancing affordable recreational boating in Dana Point Harbor,” Lenthall said.“Our directors and advisors are volunteers who receive zero financial compensation or benefits. We don’t submit travel expenses and there are no free meals; our only rewards are the achievements we make on behalf of our boaters.”
DPBA’s latest agenda item is to protect boaters’ interest through the harbor revitalization plan, which will remove the harbor’s current dry boat storage facility and replace it with a new, $30 million hi-tech dry stack storage facility. The building will hold up to 400 small boats in vertical racks, delivered to and from the water by an automated gantry crane system.
“Within the overall plan, we’re focused on protecting affordable on-trailer dry boat storage and to ensure that waterside construction remains on track and properly funded, and not compromised by the elaborate commercial redevelopment,” Lenthall said. “This new [dry stack boat storage] building will hold up to 400 boats, but will not accommodate trailers or facilitate easy access to boats without having them hoisted out of the building.”
After surveying many existing Embarcadero tenants, it was clear the group almost unanimously wanted to keep their boats on trailers and have easy access to them for occasional tinkering, Lenthall said. But, the planned building will allow neither. And with the exorbitant construction costs and certainly higher operating costs, storage fees are likely to rise significantly, he noted.
“This dry stack building will bring a new type of boater to Dana Point Harbor, boaters who don’t mind not having trailers and like making appointments like tee times to use their boats,” Lenthall said. “And we welcome these boaters to Dana Point, but not at the expense of displacing the boaters who are there now. We are working closely with OC Dana Point Harbor and other players to ensure affordable, nearby on-trailer storage does not go away.”
For another boater supporting organization, Boaters for Dana Point Harbor, another harbor development factor comes into play – the number that the city officials arrived at for the total number of dry storage boats stored around the waterfront.
“In 2010, when Brad Gross was trying to get the harbor revitalization plan through the Coastal Commission, we pointed out that their numbers were not correct, and the Coastal Commission required them to ‘true up’ the numbers,” said Bruce Heyman, president of Boaters for Dana Point Harbor. “Brad probably spent over $100,000 on an analysis but used a trick to validate his smaller numbers – there are 684 dry stored boats stored in the harbor but Brad said there’s only 516 and the commission is letting him replace use for 493.”
Gross wasn’t taking into account the 90 vessels that were dry stored at the shipyard, Heyman explained. Because there’s no legal permission to have had boats stored there, the city didn’t have to count those boats, he added.
Since 2009, 300 boats have been located on a temporary storage site at South Coast Water District property forcing boaters who had previously been located at the harbor to tow their vessels via trailer down to the waterfront.
“Truing up the numbers was an important element of the harbor renovation process,” Heyman said. “They really cooked the number in my opinion, to say there were far fewer boats in the harbor and far fewer dry dock locations.” Boaters for Dana Point Harbor members, who have been present at all harbor revitalization public hearings, will continue to work with the city council and Dana Point Harbor Commission on this issue.