The County of Orange has terminated the Dana Point Harbor Advisory Council on the eve of its inauguration. Last year DPBA proposed a community-based oversight panel for the public discourse and consideration of issues affecting Dana Point Harbor, and worked tirelessly in partnership with the County and other harbor interest groups to create an organized and accountable committee to undertake this important task. After more than a year of intensive collaboration and development, this oversight group was planned to be implemented this month. Perfect timing in concert with the expected October selection of a private developer and operator for the future of our harbor. Instead, the County has killed the Dana Point Harbor Advisory Council. We and our harbor partners in this endeavor are deeply disappointed by this development.
DPBA originally proposed an independent
commission that would report its work directly to the OC Board of Supervisors. In our subsequent work with our harbor partners and in collaboration with the County, this concept was ultimately demoted to an
advisory council subordinate to the OC Parks Commission. Its charter and purpose remained largely unchanged and we grudgingly agreed. The Dana Point Harbor Advisory Council was approved by the OC Parks Commission in May of this year and applications were sought by interested participants. The DPHAC was expected to be paneled and implemented this month.
In its place, the County now proposes an "ad hoc committee" without assigned membership or permanent charter. Effectively, this would be an occasional public forum for community input, sort of a Dana Point Harbor town hall. While we applaud and embrace all efforts at community outreach, this alternative will not achieve the purpose and outcomes of the organized and accountable commission we originally proposed. With the imminent selection of a private developer to rebuild and operate our harbor into the distant future, we believe a dedicated Dana Point Harbor Commission to be essential to both government and private developer accountability. We do not accept the rejection of this important initiative.
We understand the rejection of the DPHAC to be based on a legal interpretation of the
and an expectation that the mission of the DPHAC and its planned membership would result in unavoidable conflicts of interest and likely Brown Act violations. Interesting, that a statute designed to maximize the integrity of government would be cited in the rejection of a community-based government oversight group.
With a major transformation of our harbor around the corner (believe it this time) and the County's planned partnership with a private developer/operator for a term of 66 years, we believe a proper community-based Dana Point Harbor Commission to be essential to the successful future of our harbor. In the coming days we will be working with our harbor partners to pursue effective alternatives. We have ideas and can't wait to share them with you.