The Dana Point Harbor Advisory Board has requested the County of Orange perform an examination of Dana Point Harbor Patrol and its impact on our harbor’s economy.
Our harbor’s budget exists independently without subsidy from the County’s general fund or any other external funding source. At a time when we are about to exert enormous stress on our harbor’s economy with the $300 million Harbor Revitalization project, we need to be especially mindful and cautious of how our harbor expends its independent and limited budget. Harbor expenses correlate directly with the rents boaters and commercial tenants pay, as well as the affordability of public coastal access to our harbor. Controlling expenses means controlling how much we all pay to enjoy our harbor.
Harbor patrol is by far the single greatest expense to Dana Point Harbor’s budget, with about $4.5 million allocated this year, and projected to increase to nearly $8 million in the coming years. This equates to approximately 30% of the OC Sheriff’s Department’s costs for Orange County coastal patrol operations. This begs the question: Is Dana Point Harbor paying our proportional share for the services provided to our harbor? And a follow-up question: Is the model of harbor patrol provided by the OC Sheriff’s Department the most cost-effective way to maximize our harbor’s safety and security? These are precisely the questions we have directed to our 5th District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett in our request to the County.
[You can read our letter to Supervisor Bartlett HERE. You can read the request from the Dana Point Boaters Association that prompted this discussion HERE.]
To be very clear, this is not a judgement on the Sheriff’s Department personnel or the performance of their mission. We support both. We are simply seeking an examination of the enormous burden on our harbor’s budget and pursuing relief where we can do so wisely.