The Dana Strands Seawall

Strands Beach from the Headlands Bluff.
© Cliff Wasseman/

A Chat With
the Surfrider Foundation

Many southern
Californians, from San Clemente to Laguna Beach and even beyond, have
heard of the longstanding plans for a real estate development at the scenic
and historic Headlands in Dana Point.

The Headlands is a 123 acre stretch of undeveloped bluff land north
of Dana Point Harbor that also encompasses most of Strands Beach. Strands
is a heavy beachbreak,
is adjacent to Orange County’s legendary beachbreak, Salt Creek. Though
not as consistent or well-known as Salt Creek, Strands has its days, and
it has a talented crew of rippers to prove it.

The gorgeous
stretch of land around the Headlands contains several endangered or threatened
plants and animals, including the Pacific Pocket Mouse, and California
Gnatcatcher. In his 1830 book, Two Years Before the Mast, explorer
Richard Henry Dana called the land the "only romantic spot in California."
Of course, we now know that there are a whole lot of romantic spots in
California, but Dana was one of the first to recognize the Headlands’
significance. Back before 1966, the Headlands also offered wind protection
to one of California’s best known righthand point breaks: Killer Dana.
Killer Dana now rests in peace, buried somewhere underneath and behind
the enormous riprap boulders laid down to create the Dana Point Harbor.

Dana, R.I.P.

For many years,
Dana Point’s citizens have argued with potential developers over a longstanding
zoning permit and building plan. That zoning permit would have permitted
400-plus homes, two resort hotels, and a large commercial center. When
the residents of Dana Point objected strongly to this plan, a smaller
compromise was sought. Today, that compromise involves the construction
of a $500 million project that would build 125 homes, a 65 room inn and
spa, five small parks, 62 acres of open space and a 40,000 square-foot
commercial development at Green Lantern and Pacific Coast Highway. To
gain the backing of Dana Point’s citizenry, the developer, Sanford Edward
also created a proposal for a lighthouse, a veteran’s memorial and a cultural
arts center.

Headlands Plan. Click this image to blow it up

Yet, according
to the Surfrider Foundation, there remains a dramatic flaw with the current
development plan. That plan is the construction of a massive new 2100-plus
foot long seawall that would stretch from the stairs leading to Strands
Beach, almost all the way to the bluff at the south end of Strands. The
construction of this seawall could not only have profound implications
for a popular but secluded stretch of beach, but indeed, for all the state.

To find out
what’s going on, had a conversation with Surfrider’s Chad
Nelson, Mark Cousineau and Mike Lewis. Draw your own conclusions from
what follows. And if you feel like taking action, sign
the online petition here.
Read on: