Dana Point Harbor revitalization given one-year extension for plan amendment

Coastal Commission will review the merits of a plan to add two hotels to the harbor revitalization at a later date.

DANA POINT—What appeared to be a procedural vote on a request for more time for California Coastal Commission staff to review a Local Coastal Program (LCP) amendment turned out to be a little testy.

The Coastal Commission, at its Oct. 7 virtual meeting, was considering a request for time extension of an LCP amendment for the Dana Point Harbor revitalization project. The LCP amendment would amend Dana Point’s Land Use Plan to allow for two hotels to be built at the harbor and the square footage for visitor serving uses to be altered.

Commissioners were slated to vote on the time extension request as part of the consent calendar. Items on consent calendars are often approved as package, with little to no debate and no discussion of their respective merits. Consent calendar items are, generally, matters of formality and not requiring an in-depth consideration.

Three speakers representing a local union spoke out in opposition to the LCP amendment. The speakers tried to address the merits of the amendment, despite being told the matter in front of the commission was exclusively a time extension request.

They stated plans for the hotels would gentrify the area and price out lower-income harbor visitors. One of the hotels would be a market-rate venue.

Coastal Commission Vice Chair Donne Brownsey informed the speakers to limit their comments to whether commissioners should approve or reject the time extension request.

Coastal Commission will review the merits of a plan to add two hotels to the harbor revitalization at a later date.

The third and final speaker, acknowledging Brownsey’s request, stated the Coastal Commission should not be considering the LCP amendment altogether.

The merits of the LCP amendment, which aims to amend Dana Point’s Land Use Plan to allow for two hotels to be built at the waterfront, was not up for discussion at this meeting.

“The purpose of this time extension is to allow staff, and the public for that matter, additional time to review the city’s LCP amendment,” Coastal Commission Deputy Director Karl Schwing said, adding the Oct. 7 action was on a procedural matter.

Schwing added the matter would eventually come back to the commission for a full debate and discussion.

Those who spoke in opposition of the time extension said the commission should not be considering the matter at all. Schwing said whether the quasi-judicial agency should be considering the LCP amendment for two hotels at the revitalized Dana Point Harbor is not the commission’s decision to make.

“As far as the idea of simply rejecting the matter out of hand, we don’t have that option here, unless the city were to withdraw their LCP amendment,” Schwing said. “I don’t think [Dana Point] is inclined to do so.”

Commissioners ended up approving the time extension request unanimously. The time extension is for one year.

The time extension request was filed by the city of Dana Point. Commission staff requested additional information about the LCP amendment in August. City staff sought additional time in order to properly fulfill the commission’s request.

A permit application to demolish Cannon’s Restaurant at Dana Point Harbor was also on the Coastal Commission’s Oct. 7 agenda, but the item was postponed. The city of Dana Point hopes to tear down the restaurant and replace it with a 44,164-square-foot hotel, which would have 100 rooms. A café, restaurant and spa are also part of the plan.

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