Dana Point Harbor marinas merge! It's starting...

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By ERIKA I. RITCHIE | eritchie@scng.com | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: March 20, 2019 at 8:00 am | UPDATED: March 20, 2019 at 9:29 am
DANA POINT — The East and West marinas in Dana Point Harbor have become one. The combined Marina at Dana Point will function as one boating community, after 47 years operating separately.

“We’re excited about having one marina,” said Joe Ueberroth, of Bellwether Financial Group, one of three development groups known collectively as Dana Point Harbor Partners which on Nov. 1 took over a 66-year lease from the County of Orange to run the harbor and oversee a $300 million redevelopment project. “It always has been one harbor. It allows us to have one set of rules for the whole community.”
The consolidation should mean better customer service and a uniform approach to structural repairs to docks, Ueberroth said. It also creates one database of boat owners — wait-lists for boat slips on either side of the harbor will be combined onto one master list.

The merger — in the works for several weeks — was announced during the Dana Point Boaters Associations’ general meeting March 14 at the Dana Point Yacht Club. More than 500 boaters attended the meeting. The office for the Marina at Dana Point is in the East Basin near the Marina Inn, in the former office of the Dana Point Marina Co.

As part of the merger, Kelly Rinderknecht, who in December was brought in to manage the west marina, is now the general manager for the single marina. Ralph Grippo, who joined Bellwether in December, will run the marina operations. He joined Bellwether after running hospitality for the Irvine Co.

Senior staff involved in operating the two marinas have been brought aboard to assist with the transition.

“This move eliminates costly redundancy, improves efficiency through shared resources, and ensures consistency in operations on both sides of the bridge,” said James Lenthall, president of the Dana Point Boaters Association. “This is a good thing.”

The boater wait-list will be combined into one, divided by boat-size category; the boater next in line by application date on either the east or west list will be placed at the top of the combined list, followed by the boater atop the other list. This will continue back and forth, alternating lists.

Some people have been on the wait-lists for decades.

“After reviewing both wait-lists thoroughly and playing out several strategies, we believe this results in the most reasonable and fair method to combine lists,” Lenthall said. “Most on the wait-list will find that they have technically moved down on the list, but they will have a much larger pool of slips to be selected from.”

Mostly, boaters seem supportive of merging the east and west marinas and combining the waitlists, as long as the waitlist consolidation is undertaken with integrity and transparency so that those waiting (sometimes 10-15 years or longer) for slips can be assured that no one is allowed to cheat the system of leapfrog other boaters, Lentahll added.

There are hundreds of boaters on the wait-list.

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“We’ve been methodical with the wait-list,” Ueberroth said. “So far, so good. I don’t think it impacts the timing of the wait-list. If you’re on the west side you may be offered a slip on the east side.”

Since Dana Point Harbor Partners took over the lease and redevelopment, there has been a greater amount of interest by boaters. People dropping off the wait-list has declined, Ueberroth said, and a new slip category has been added.

“If we can open the harbor to more people, that’s great,” Ueberroth said.

“After we redevelop this it will be the landmark facility on the West Coast,” he said. “It is the largest single marina and it will have state-of-the-art features. If you’re coming down the coast now, very seldom do people come in and visit Dana Point Harbor as guests. Our design will have a large guest facility and will be easy to see and access. It will be a different guest experience than anywhere along the West Coast.”