Dana Point Harbor Prepares for Phase One of Marina and Harbor Renovation Project

The Dana Point Harbor and marina project has been the scuttlebutt throughout the city for some time now, and the project is finally approaching the start of phase one. The newly designed seaside village will link the Marina to restaurant experiences.

DANA POINT— As the Dana Point Harbor Revitalization Plan gains momentum, new docks and piles will begin to appear in Dana Point Harbor’s West Basin by the end of this year.


According to the Dana Point Harbor Partners, the new docks and piles will be phase one for the marina portion of the $400 million project.


To secure the commission’s permit, Bellwether Financial Group, a Newport Beach-based marina developer, had to meet several stipulations for the project by the commission. Among those stipulations, Joe Ueberroth, founder, and president of Bellwether Financial Group, agreed to terms that would create an environmental justice program to expose underserved youth from inland communities to water activities, a plan for protecting the harbor sea lions while the project is underway, and a method for enhancing water quality in the harbor. In addition, a biologist will be on location to record the animal’s behavior once the construction starts.


With the go-ahead from the Coastal Commission for constructing the new Marina, Ueberroth will submit permit drawings to the county and then pull permits to begin work. Also put in motion is a project to renovate the harbor. 


Bellwether, Burnham Ward Properties, and R.D. Olson Development make up Dana Point Harbor Partners, who have a 66-year lease with the county, which was signed in 2018. 


The Dana Point Harbor Revitalization Plan will revitalize the restaurants and retail, The Marina of Dana Point, two new hotels, and fully rebuilt docks, creating a refreshing meeting place for residents and visitors. Businesses choosing to remain open throughout the renovation have expressed positive feelings towards the project. 


“We are extremely excited to see all the plans that incorporate our harbor’s rich whale and dolphin watching heritage, as well as surfing,” said Gisele Anderson from Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. “It will be gorgeous and an even stronger destination than ever.”



The backdrop for the marina will be a reconstructed harbor, with buildings with gabled roofs and natural cedar shingles and vintage street lanterns. Native-inspired landscapes will line the pathways people can walk throughout the new harbor. 


A new parking structure will be added to improve the visitor experience by allowing a smooth transition for pedestrians and boaters. 


The marina will be able to host vessels of all sizes with the newly designed slip layout, and each slip will have its own pump-out station. 


 Under the public-private partnership, the developers will design, fund, and build the improvements, then operate those portions of the harbor with the 66-year. 


Bryon Ward and Scott Burnham of Burnham-Ward Properties will revitalize the restaurant and retail portion of the Harbor, and Bob Olson, of R.D. Olson Development, will develop the two new hotels that will be replacing the Dana Point Marina Inn. 


Bellwether has partnered with local YMCAs to help fund swimming lessons and provide outreach to the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters, OC Youth Sailing, and the Surfrider Foundation are other groups involved.


Water quality is another area that Bellwether where will focus on. Instead of using treated lumber that could leach into the water, Bellwether is using fiberglass. In addition, there will be no metal on the floats.


Donna Kalez, who manages the harbor’s oldest whale watching and fishing charter business, said she has been waiting for her dilapidated and decaying docks to be replaced for two decades.


Under the surface, many buildings have become weak throughout the years, especially considering there has never been any type of facelift for them. It will take more than a paint job to keep these buildings strong, prompting the decision to revitalize the harbor and marina. 


The new docks will make the harbor look better and safer for the hundreds of visitors who frequent the Harbor almost daily.


The harbor renovation is expected to be completed in 5-7 years. Ueberroth said the largest single-owned marina will “raise the bar for marinas and coastal developments of the future.” 

3 thoughts on “Dana Point Harbor Prepares for Phase One of Marina and Harbor Renovation Project

  • July 11, 2022 at 8:26 am

    disturbing the sediments in the harbor for new location of piles will pollute the waters more than just replacing the current piles .This also allows these crooks to relocate slip leases to more unfavorable slips breaking existing leases ! i guess they have more rights than any body taking over a master lease or purchasing a property ! leases are supposed to be carried forward ? The longer this alleged revitalization goes on the more records are destroyed? current layout provides for many small business not just the few .

    • August 8, 2022 at 12:09 pm

      Please investigate what has actually transpired since DPHP has signed their 66-year takeover of the harbor in 2018.
      1. Measurement of each boat 2 weeks after lease was signed to increase all 2,409 boat owners slip fee by as much as 6%. DPHP did not call this action an increase of slip fees. Our boat was measured three times before a final measurement was agreed upon by us and the marina management team. Evidence the purpose was to gouge as much extra money out of each boater as possible without calling it an official increase in slip fees.
      2. In September of 2021 DPHP implemented a 24%-95% slip fee increase to (in their words) bring Dana Point Harbor up to Market Value. In reality, it was to establish Evidence of Financing with the County. It was discovered DPHP did not have adequate funds to apply for the loan to finance the cost of the renovation. Therefore, the reality is the boaters are now paying for the revitalization. Supervisor Bartlett’s promise of no cost to the taxpayer is just another fallacy dreamed up to sell this debacle to the public.
      3. Why has there been so many delays to the start of construction? The parking structure was to be started first along with the new dry storage unit. After almost five years since the signing of the lease, not one shovel of dirt has been turned over on either of these two projects.
      4. Demolition began on C-dock on August 4th and 5th 2022, by a two man crew that cut away a mere 3 fingers of the over 300 fingers that make up Phase 1 (C-dock demolition). At this rate this it will take much longer than the 5-7 years DPHP claims it will take to complete the project. There are 19 phases of the waterside component of the revitalization. WHY IS THE DEMOLITION OF C-DOCK (PHASE 1) BEING DONE BY A CREW OF ONLY 2 MEN? DOES DPHP NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR A LARGER CREW?
      5. According to the DPHP’s Cost summary of Phase 1 the cost of Phase 1 is over $4,900,000.00 and the overall cost of the entire waterside component is approximately $106 million. The only problem is DPHP only has assists totally a little over $7.4 million. Where are the funds for the remainder of the project coming from? Another exorbitant slip fee increase, placing even more of the burden of the cost of the project on the 2,409 tenants of Dana Point Harbor?

      The time has come for DPHP to be investigated by a Grand Jury. The unscrupulous practices of DPHP and the management team of The Marina of Dana Point need to be exposed before they do more damage to the the classic ambience of Dana Point Harbor. How many more boaters have to leave for more affordable marinas? How many more restaurants and small businesses within the marina have to close? How many more people have to lose their jobs because of DPHP’s GREED AND CORRUPTION?

      Yes the harbor needs to be revitalized. However, this should have been done by the county throughout the years on a regular schedule not by a private group of money-hungry profiteers seeking 66-years of guaranteed income at the expense of every boat owner and business owner of Dana Point Harbor.

      Thank you for your time and consideration regarding this very serious issue.

  • August 23, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    The following is a quote from the San Diego “LOG” dated July 11, 2022. In the quote Joe Ueberroth refers the Dana Point Harbor to be “the largest single-owned marina…”. Dana Point Marina/Harbor is PUBLICLY owned. To infer that the Dana Point Harbor Partners owns Dana Point Marina/Harbor is a total misrepresentation of the facts.
    ”Bellwether, Burnham Ward Properties, and R.D. Olson Development make up Dana Point Harbor Partners,…”.
    Bellingham Marine, with offices located at 610 Newport Center Dr Suite 490, Newport Beach, CA 92660, is the company that was selected to build the new marina, in the Publicly Owned Harbor, is owned by Joe Ueberroth. Bellingham Marine determines the cost to construct the docks. DPHP didn’t have the $330,000,000.00 million dollars to start the renovation. So they didn’t start any construction until August of 2022 while they collected inflated rental income. What action did the Orange County Supervisors take to insure DPHP had the funds to start construction? Answer; NONE. The only scheduled agreed to date indicated in the Master Lease is 66 years.
    Bellwether Financial Group, is located at 610 Newport Center Dr Suite 490, Newport Beach, CA 92660, is owned by Joe Ueberroth. This the same address as Bellingham Marine because it’s owned by the same person, Joe Ueberroth. What action did the Orange County Supervisors take to protect the Publicly owned property with competitive bids from other dock builders? Answer; NONE
    “The harbor renovation is expected to be completed in 5-7 years. Ueberroth said the largest single-owned marina will “”raise the bar for marinas and coastal developments of the future.””
    Jim McGarry is accurate in his statements. As I, George Hughes, have been a harbor tenant for the last 44 years. I can attest that what Joe Ueberroth is doing to this harbor is destroying the existing commercial zone that local Orange County residents have come to identify with, in favor of the rich. His stated intention is to create a “Boutique” up scale harbor for the richest of Orange County and surrounding areas. The stated goal is to make Dana Point Harbor the new and improved version of Newport Harbor. DPHP has raised slip rates so high that over 300 slip renters have either sold, donated, moved their boats to other more affordable marinas or allowed DPHP to remove them to other temporary slips or for disposal.
    There currently exists a Class Action lawsuit against Joe Ueberroth and his partners (DPHP), that seeks to stop the injustices imposed on all of the lease holders and slip license holders. For the last four years Joe Ueberroth has done nothing but raise rents. DPHP through deceptive practices has used verbiage such as “Right Sizing” to inflate slip rates and claim the practice doesn’t qualify as a rent increase, is unethical if not a lie. For 50 years slip renters were allowed 3’ of boat over hang beyond their dock. A 29’ boat could be berthed in a 26’ slip.



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