O.C. Parks announces annual slip rate increase for Dana Point Harbor

Boaters notified their rates would increase by 2.8 percent beginning in July.

DANA POINT — A recent Dana Point Boaters Association (DPBA) newsletter announced local boaters were notified of a slip rate increase.

The newsletter stated: “OC Parks has advised DPBA that Dana Point Harbor boaters will be notified of a 2.8 percent slip rate increase in their May billing; the new rates will take effect in July.”

Marisa O’Neil, Public Information Officer, told The Log the hike on slip rates was routine and it was a term of conditions with the Dana Point Marina Company.

“The operating agreements with our marina managers require them to annually update rates. This is a reflection of the market fluctuation represented by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is based on cost of living indicators,” O’Neil said. “If CPI is negative then adjustments are downward, or rent increases with an upward CPI.  The percentage 2017 CPI for 2018-19 rates is highlighted as 2.8 percent.”

O’Neil continued, “Additionally, rents may be adjusted downward if warranted by market demand as evidenced by slip occupancy rates. Between the East and West Marinas there are more than 1,700 waitlist applications on file demonstrating that rents are considered very reasonable in the marketplace. The slip fee adjustment policy also requires an annual survey of slip fees for Southern California (from Santa Barbara to San Diego) and Orange County.  The 2018 SoCal survey demonstrated Dana Point slip fees are between 4.1 percent to 36 percent, lower than the SoCal average.”

In contrast, DPBA took issue with comparing Dana Point Harbor to for-profit marinas and others on the coast of Southern California.

“The challenge with a market study of slip rates is accurately identifying our market. This is a publically owned municipal harbor that must operate effectively as a non-profit,” the DPBA newsletter stated. “We should not be compared to – for example – small for-profit private marinas in Newport Beach that charge two to three times (or more) for comparable slips.”

The newsletter continued: “However, as you can see in our harbor’s latest market study (performed by Dana Point Marina Company), we are compared to just about every marina from Santa Barbara to San Diego, including a few exclusive and very expensive for-profit private marinas. Further, the denominator used to calculate the average slip price is number of marinas, not total number of slips. That means Long Beach Harbor, with approximately 4,500 slips (at lower cost than Dana Point) is weighted the same as Bayside Marine in Newport Beach with 101 slips, driving the ‘average’ slip rate artificially high.”

DPBA suggests, according to its math, a more accurate study would find Dana Point Harbor slip rates are actually 11 percent higher than the average rate of municipally owned marinas in Southern California.

The boater association, while thankful for efforts on behalf of the county, stated they would be willing to protest the accuracy of the data if Orange County were to implement an increased slip rate with the findings of the market-based study.

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