What Happened: On June 21, tenants in Dana Point Harbor received a letter from Bellwether Financial altering them of a 26 to 96 percent increase in slip fees beginning on Oct. 1.
Rates for slips under 30 feet would increase by 26 percent and the largest slips between 55 and 60 feet would increase by 90 percent.
The increase in the slip rates was calculated using market rates from marinas in Orange County with the majority based in Newport Beach.
The Dana Point Boaters Association sent a letter to Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett questioning the calculation and requesting that the county would step in to address the affordability of the slip fee rise.
In an Aug. 10 letter addressed to the Orange County Board of Supervisors Dennis C. Winters, a legal advisor for the Dana Point Boaters Association, alleged that the Dana Point Harbor Partners was in violation of the spirit of lease and the Tidelands Grant to the County, which states that prices will be ‘market rate’ and pricing would be reasonably determined and consistent with the limitation on pricing as mandated by the grant.
There have been several protests by community boaters who are concerned about their ability to stay in the harbor after the slip fee increase and boaters have attended Supervisor meetings to voice their dissent.
On Sept. 2 the Recreational Boaters of California sent a letter to both the California Coastal Commission and the California State Lands Commission advocating for DPBA and requesting that the State Lands Commission takes timely action to prevent the increase.
What’s on Tap: On Sept. 22 a class-action lawsuit was filed against Dana Point Harbor Partners on behalf of slip holders in Dana Point Harbor.
The suit was filed in the Orange County Superior Court and asks the court to stop the proposed 26 to 96 percent increase in slip fees which the suit alleges is out of line compared to the market rate for publicly owned marinas.
The suit also asks for damages.
The suit alleges the rate increase violates the county’s policy on slip increases and also violates the Tidelands Grant.
Lastly, the suit alleges the Dana Point Marina holds a monopoly position as the only large publicly owned marina in Orange County and has breached the obligation to treat slip holders in a fair and reasonable manner forcing the boaters to take action.
While legal efforts are still unfolding the Dana Point Boaters Association recommends that boaters pay the increased amount, but write “paid in protest” on the memo line of the check.
In a newsletter from Dana Point Harbor Boaters Association, they stated that some boaters have already left their slips or had to sell their boats.