On Monday, we celebrate Labor Day, a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America's strength, prosperity, and well-being.
In that vein, let’s reflect on the contributions, labor, and efforts by many to develop the vision of Dana Point Harbor in response to what its citizens desired.
Tom Wilson was 5th District Supervisor in 1997 and quite a visionary. In that year, he formed a task force to plant the seeds for the revitalization of Dana Point Harbor. During the seven months of planning, the process consisted of information gathering, public input, task force participation, development of plan alternatives, evaluation and review, and preliminary recommendations of a concept plan. The process was initiated with interviews of major stakeholders within and having jurisdiction within the Harbor, including master lessees; sub-lessees, boat and slip holders, Orange County Marine Institute (now the Ocean Institute), the City of Dana Point representatives (Mayor, Community Development Director, Planning Commission Chairman, Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses); County of Orange representatives (5th District Supervisor, Public Facilities & Resources Staff Manager, Harbors Beaches and Parks Manager, Program Management & Coordination Manager, Landscape Architecture Design Project Manager of the Real Property Division), and Coastal Commission Staff. This was quite the group of Stakeholders! After months of meetings, the task force developed a list of twelve priorities for the harbor redevelopment. The document was called the 12 Guiding Principles. The list is below:
• Keep the Harbor’s character and family atmosphere.
• Give a facelift/renovation to Harbor structures.
• Maintain a full-service Harbor.
• Do not commercialize the Island.
• Ensure the future of the Yacht Clubs.
• Improve water quality.
• Better utilize existing parking.
• Address overall mix of land uses.
• Provide more parking in commercial area.
• Keep existing parkland, beach, and landscape buffers.
• Address balance of revenue and non-revenue generating land uses.
• Provide restrooms and showers near the docks.
These 12 Guiding Principles laid the foundation for so much of what would follow and became both a guide to those who would undertake our harbor's renovation, and a shield to protect the early vision for our harbor against periodic efforts to alter it. The 12 Guiding Principles have remained a foundational document for the past 25 years, often referenced as decisions are made on our harbor's present and future. The 12 Guiding Principles were updated by the Dana Point Harbor Advisory Board (no longer in existence) in 2018. DPHAB included representation from various stakeholders, including the City and County, and the updated 12 Guiding Principles were supported by consensus of the stakeholders. The updated list is below:
- Maintain Dana Point Harbor’s small-town charm, character, and family atmosphere.
- Protect Dana Point Harbor’s beauty and visual appeal.
- Upgrade/replace existing, aging structures. Avoid radical expansion of the commercial/entertainment complex.
- Maintain an affordable, full-service recreational boat harbor. Facilities to include boat marinas, ample sewage pump-outs, on-site dry boat storage with launch ramp facility, onsite day use trailer parking, fuel dock, shipyard, bait barge, and mast-up launching hoist.
- Do not further commercialize the island. Existing and future commercial uses should remain boating and public recreation oriented.
- Ensure the future of the two yacht clubs.
- Maintain Clean Marina certification. Improve and protect water quality.
- Better utilize existing parking. Provide more parking in commercial area. Protect boater parking without significant increase in walking distance to docks.
- Protect the OC Sailing and Events Center as a venue for education, community service and youth maritime development.
- Address overall mix of land uses. Maintain equilibrium among commercial/ entertainment, boating, community service and education uses, and open space. Protect balance of revenue and non-revenue generating land uses.
- Protect existing parkland, beach, and landscape buffers. Enhance affordable public access.
- Continue to provide restrooms and showers near the docks. Update the boater amenities and service buildings.
To quote the now disbanded Dana Point Harbor Advisory Board: “ While these are mostly a modernization of the principles established back in 1998, there are two priorities new to this list. While it should go without saying that we all desire to “protect Dana Point Harbor’s beauty and visual appeal,” and “protect the OC Sailing and Events Center as a venue for education, community service and youth maritime development,” challenges to these fundamental truths in the intervening years necessitated codifying them here. The remaining priorities reflect today’s harbor culture and reality and aim to protect them into the future.”
“These updated 12 Guiding Principles have been offered to our elected leaders and governing agencies as a framework to both instruct and constrain the revitalization of our harbor into the future, just as our predecessors did 25 years ago. We encourage – no, we demand – that our Harbor be carried into the future with faith to these principles.”
So the question DPBA asks, is the County of Orange and the Board of Supervisors ensuring that DPHP is adhering to these 12 Guiding Principles?
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend with family and friends, celebrating the labor of love you have put into Dana Point Harbor.
As always, stay safe!