A map of the project also marked off a small section of the marina as “valet-temp dock,” which had the potential to satisfy the Harbor Commission’s condition that the project would increase public access between the water and land.
“The Irvine Co. has provided these docks, however, the question remains how publicly accessible they are,” Miller said.
Harbor Commissioner Ralph Rodheim called the slips a “farce.”
Located inside the private marina, which houses multimillion-dollar yachts, boaters must register with the Irvine Co. to get a key to the gates that close off the docks from the businesses along East Coast Highway and Bayside Drive.
A boater passing through without a key can dock his boat in one of the public slips — that is, if he can find the small sign just above water level identifying it — but once he exits through the gates, without a key he won’t be able to get back in, Rodheim said.
“I understand the issues of public use in a private marina,” Rodheim said about the concerns of yacht owners and heavy foot traffic between the docks and restaurants during peak tourist season. “But this is just another excuse not to offer public access. It is very disturbing that the Irvine Co. has the opportunity to be a good corporate neighbor and they’re not doing it.”
At the time of remodel, the California Coastal Commission approved the project as already having sufficient public access in the forms of East Coast Highway and access from Linda Isle, according to the 2008 staff report.
Citing these findings, the Irvine Co. has maintained that the five guest docks were a voluntary addition, said Robin Leftwich, Irvine Co. vice president of community affairs.