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Slip prices increasing in Dana Point marina known to be the ‘best deal in OC’

Jul 3, 2021

Ralph Bobsin cruises through the harbor in his 33-foot sailboat, Shibumi, on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. He fears he will have to sell it because of an increase in slip fees. Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) PUBLISHED: | UPDATED: July 3, 2021 at 7:49 a.m. Ralph Bobsin said he got a shock when he recently opened an email from The Marina at Dana Point informing him slip prices would be increasing in October at the popular harbor. The Mission Viejo resident has kept his 33-foot sailboat docked in Dana Point Harbor for more than 15 years. Not long ago, he spent more than $30,000 to upgrade the Shibumi with new instruments, an engine and new rigging. The plan was to have the boat to enjoy during his retirement. With the slip increase from $600 to $812 a month, the 70-year-old now worries he may have to sell instead. The increase represents the kind of changes Bobsin and other Dana Point boaters said they worried about when Dana Point Harbor Partners took over from the county of Orange in October 2018 the 66-year lease to renovate and operate the harbor. The June 21 letter signed by Joe Ueberroth, founder and president of Bellwether Financial Group, the marina developer in the partnership, was sent out to the 2,400 boat owners who rent slips in the harbor. “It’s no secret that The Marina at Dana Point has the best deal in the county, especially for larger vessels,” the letter said. “The rates are severely low compared to the average of Orange County marinas.” Millions of dollars have already been invested in the harbor’s marina on dock repairs, facility management and new Wi-Fi the letter said, adding that for years the smaller boat owners had born the burden and now, the larger boat owners would be on the hook to pay more. Ralph Bobsin has sunk $35,000 in repairs and renovations to his 33-foot sailboat, Shibumi. He now fears he will have to sell it because of an increase in slip fees. Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) A bunch of plastic buckets doesn’t deter this sea lion from perching on the dock at Dana Point Harbor on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The large mammals are a constant nuisance to boaters. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks in Dana Point Harbor. They have drawn the ire of some boat owners who say they were misled about the increase in slip fees. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) Ralph Bobsin shows the cracks near where he docks his 33-foot sailboat. He says repair work has been neglected over the years. He now fears he will have to sell the boat because of an increase in slip fees. Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) Ralph Bobsin cruises through the harbor in his 33-foot sailboat, Shibumi, on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. He fears he will have to sell it because of an increase in slip fees. Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) Ralph Bobsin cruises through the harbor in his 33-foot sailboat, Shibumi, on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. He fears he will have to sell it because of an increase in slip fees. Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks in Dana Point Harbor. They have angered some boat owners like Ralph Bobsin who says they were misled about the increase in slip fees. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG Dana Point Harbor Partners, a group of Newport Beach developers, has gotten a 66-year lease from the county to renovate the 2,000 slip docks in Dana Point Harbor. They have angered some boat owners like Ralph Bobsin who says they were misled about the increase in slip fees. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) A bunch of plastic buckets doesn’t deter this sea lion from perching on the dock at Dana Point Harbor on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The large mammals are a constant nuisance to boaters. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG) Show Caption For boats under 30 feet, the increase is 26%. But, boats in the largest slip categories – between 55 feet and 60 feet – face an increase in price of 90%. Ueberroth said this week he expected backlash from the boaters, but has been pleasantly surprised that a large number also reacted with understanding and respect. “No one likes a boat slip increase,” he said. “And, this is a significant one. The people who are upset are the most vocal, but the vast majority liked our communication and thought it was thoughtful. They liked that we gave them advance notice.” An estimated $100 million in upgrades to the marina are part of $330 million in harbor renovations planned by Dana Point Harbor Partners – Bryon Ward, of Burnham-Ward Properties, and Bob Olson, of  R.D. Olson Development, are working together on development of the harbor’s commercial core. 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 lease before returning the property to the county. “This is an expensive revitalization,” Ueberroth said of the need for a rate increase. He said demand to get into the harbor is high. There are more than 4,000 people on wait lists – some for 20 years. “If you’re 100% occupied, you’re probably not over-priced,” Ueberroth said. “Even after the rate increase, from the perspective of the team that has managed most of the marinas in the county, the statement, ‘The best deal in the county,’ still applies.” For comparison, he points to slip prices for 30-foot boats in other local marinas: $997.50 in Newport Dunes; $600 in Huntington Harbor; $495 in Oceanside; $666.90 in Marine del Rey. Duane Grounds has had his 28-foot powerboat in a Dana Point Harbor slip for two years and was ecstatic when he got in. Living in Moreno Valley, he would otherwise have to get his boat out of storage, load it onto a trailer and haul it down to Dana Point for a day on the water. “The other marinas in the area are more expensive than Dana Point,” he said. “I know plenty of people that pay more in other marinas even after the cost increase. I’ve had boats at Lake Mead that cost more.” He said he expected the increase, which will cost him about $100 more a month. “It wasn’t surprising with the new owner,” he said. He commended them for putting in Wi-Fi, which he said makes it easy to check emails and make phone calls from the harbor. “Before that the data was horrible,” he said. “That’s a bonus. Is it worth $100 a month, I don’t know?” Anne Eubanks, president of the Dana Point Boaters Association, said she was blown away not because there was an increase, but by the size of the increase. The move could prompt a mass exodus from the marina, she said. The Dana Point Harbor has always been a more affordable harbor, and does not have the higher-end clientele its neighbor Newport Harbor has, she said. Newport Harbor has 9,000 slips and the average yacht value, according to Yacht World, is $299,000 – vessels there range from $20,000 to $7.5 million. In Dana Point Harbor, the average yacht value is listed as $124,900 and some of the vessels start at under $15,000 and top out at just under $2 million. There is also the Dana Point Tidelands Trust Grant, which Eubanks said should come into play because it directs that the harbor remain accessible to the public. Eubanks said she has reached out to the county’s Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and the California Coastal Commission on behalf of the boaters. Calling for Bartlett to weigh in on the rate increases, Eubanks wrote in a June 25 letter: “If the intent was to drive boaters who require affordability out of the harbor to accommodate more wealthy boaters, then the rate increase will certainly do so. However, this is inconsistent with the terms of the Dana Point Tidelands Trust, in that Dana Point Harbor is intended for public use and recreation for all citizens of California regardless of financial capacity. Not just the wealthy.” Bobsin said he went to all the meetings when the lease was being discussed and “I asked the question: ‘Orange County is delivering this park project to a private entity and what would happen?’ There was a lot of concern by boaters that the goal of this was to turn Dana Point Harbor into another Newport Beach. We were all concerned about slip fees being raised to Newport levels.” He said that at those meeting Bartlett “told us point-blank that she wouldn’t let that happen. She said, ‘We don’t want this to be another Newport Beach’ – now, she has.” Bartlett did not return requests for an interview. Eubanks said in addition to all of that, she isn’t yet seeing the benefit of the marina investment. “They’re putting a lot of plywood over concrete,” she said. “The new parking system was supposed to be better for boaters, but the guest passes aren’t working well. Boaters don’t feel like they’ve gotten anything so far. To be slapped with this five years before construction?” Ueberroth said he does not expect boaters to abandon the harbor over the price increase. “From fishing to whale watching, Dana Point is a prime location,” he said. “I understand people in this community don’t want to be like Newport Beach, but they’re not Wilmington either. I think Dana Point is one of the gems on the coast.” “If we got it wrong, we’ll have to change what we’re thinking,” he said. “But, I don’t think rates will change the composition of the harbor.” Related Articles

Joe Ueberroth Investments

1 Investments

Joe Ueberroth has made 1 investments. Their latest investment was in iPourIt as part of their Series A on January 1, 2013.

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Joe Ueberroth Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

1/10/2013

Series A

iPourIt

$0.8M

Yes

1

Date

1/10/2013

Round

Series A

Company

iPourIt

Amount

$0.8M

New?

Yes

Co-Investors

Sources

1

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