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Funicular at Strands Beach

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The Headlands Development Public Funicular
(Inclined Elevator at Strands Beach)

The conditions of approval associated with the Headlands Reserve LLC Development and as imposed by the California Coastal Commission, include a requirement that the developer must construct and maintain a funicular to provide public access from outside of the Headlands gated residential development and directly from the County Park at the end of Dana Strand Road to the beach.

What is a funicular?

o This particular conveyance system for Dana Point, although called a “funicular” in the planning documents, is technically more like an inclined elevator. It is driven by a cog rail system with an electric motor on the car itself. No cables are used. The car will hold up to eight passengers.

Why is there a funicular at the Headlands?

The Commission’s stated intent was to make it easier for families to access the ramp leading down to the beach by eliminating the need for them to carry beach equipment up and down the North Strand Stairway.

When will it operate?

o At a minimum, the funicular will be open to the public during daylight hours on weekends, holidays year-round, and every day beginning Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

o Persons with disabilities desiring to use the Funicular on weekdays during Non-Summer Months may contact the City of Dana Point via telephone at (949) 248-3574 to request its use, and to provide the dates and times that the individual desires to use it.

Individuals desiring to use the Funicular on such dates shall provide the City with as much notice as reasonably possible in order to ensure that adequately trained personnel are available to accommodate their request. Although the City would prefer that individuals provide at least twenty-four (24) hours notice in advance of the date/time that they wish to use the Funicular, the City will endeavor to accommodate all requests depending upon the availability of qualified personnel.

Individuals requesting to use the Funicular on weekdays during Non-Summer Months shall bear in mind that the City will be unable to accommodate such requests during periods when the Funicular is undergoing any maintenance or repair operations, and further that the City typically attempts to schedule such maintenance efforts during the Non-Summer Months.  

How fast does it travel?

o Slowly, at about 2-3 miles per hour.

What will it cost to ride?

o Therre is no charge to use the funicular

Is it noisy?

o No – The Crosslift travels almost silently, powered by an electric motor.

Will the cars be accessible for mobility-impaired individuals?

o Yes.

Will the funicular obstruct any view corridors?

o No, the track has been designed below grade so the car will not interfere with views from homes nor the adjoining stairway.

Has the City set aside funds for maintenance suitable for heavy machinery at the beach?

o Sufficient maintenance, operation, repair and replacement funding will be provided through the Community Facilities District, paid for by the Headlands property owners on their annual property tax bill.

Has the City set aside funds for liability insurance?

o Yes. The City is currently a member of the California Joint Insurance Powers Authority (CJPIA) and budgets funds annually for our insurance premiums. The current Memorandum of Coverage (MOC) provided to members of the CJPIA provides substantial insurance coverage for general liability, personal injury, bodily injury, property damage, and subsidence (earthquake, landslides, etc.). Under the MOC, the City of Dana Point is provided $10 million per occurrence in coverage; plus up to an additional $50 million per occurrence in “excess” coverage, if necessary.

o The funicular would be covered under the City’s current MOC to protect the City in the case of potential claims or lawsuits.

o In addition, the Revetment and Funicular Maintenance Agreement between the City and the Headlands Reserve LLC requires the developer to procure and maintain at all times during the terms of the Agreement comprehensive general liability insurance on a per occurrence basis naming the City and its agents, officials, officers, representatives and employees as additional insureds. Proof of this insurance requirement has been provided to the City in the form of an insurance certificate. This agreement also indemnifies, defends and holds the City and its officials, employees and agents harmless from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, costs and expenses, including legal fees arising from or in any way connected with the Developer’s non-performance of the agreement (the construction and maintenance of the funicular).

Will there be any special or additional taxes by residents of Dana Point or Orange County living outside the Headlands to support the above items?

o No, the Development Agreement between the Headlands Reserve LLC and the City contains provisions which state that both parties shall cooperate in establishing a Community Facilities District (a CFD or Financing District) for the purpose of financing the developer’s obligations to construct and maintain public facilities, and public park and open space facilities in conjunction with the Headlands development. A CFD is a method of financing and funding facilities and certain services by imposing special taxes against real property located in a limited geographic area --- in this case the Headlands development area. The funicular is one of many public improvements and or services that are eligible to be financed through the CFD. Other improvements include streets, sewer, water, park, landscaping and utilities improvements. A CFD allows the City to transfer the costs of development to the new lot owners in the Headlands, not existing residents outside the Headlands development. This special tax is disclosed to the new property owner at the time they purchase property within the CFD. An annual special tax would be imposed on the parcels in the CFD and is levied and usually collected on the property tax bill. Again, only the property owners residing within the CFD would be obligated to pay the special tax….not all Dana Point residents.

Is the funicular safe?

o Yes, the essential design for this inclined elevator by Crosslift has been used for many ski resorts in Switzerland and other countries.

The City has obtained a list of all Crosslift installations and contacted the owners of two U.S. installations, one at Telluride in Colorado (ski resort) and a second public park installation at Chattanooga, Tennessee. These owners are happy with both the operation and safety aspects of their equipment. A member of the City Building Department has also visited one of the Swiss installations. The City met with the State Elevator Safety Principal Engineer, Al Tafazoli, and his Senior Safety Engineer/Inspectors who will be certifying the installation and monitoring operational maintenance periodically (annual permit). They are exercising due diligence in review of the site installation here and have visited the installation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They are a branch of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The following safety features are installed with the equipment:

The Crosslift system has all the safety features of a common vertical elevator plus additional safeties for the inclined application. Some of them are:

a) Emergency phone in the cabin – to ensure communication to passengers in the cabin

b) 3 independent braking systems

Regen drive of electric motor

Mechanical brake attached to the electric motor

Mechanical safety brake acting on a dedicated braking surface

c) Overspeed governor and safety – to detect an overspeed of the car and stop it with independent braking system which is mounted on the car (just like a vertical elevator). There are two independent overspeed detection devices:

Electrical overspeed set at 110% normal operating speed

Mechanical overspeed set at 130% of normal operating speed

d) Monitored door locks – to prevent someone opening the door during the ride.

e) Low operating speed – operating speed is only 2-3 miles per hour which is slow compared to other urban transport systems.

f) Double cog drive – there are two sprockets side by side.

g) Automatic stopping/braking mechanism – the system is designed to go in a “dead man” position in any failure situation. That means e.g. in a power outage, the brakes would close, stop the car and hold it in its position.

h) Sensors in front and the back of the car – will stop the car in case of an obstacle on the track, e.g. fallen tree, animal, etc..

i) The carrier is so designed that it is “locked” within the track rails, which makes it physically impossible for the car to tip over or engage from the track.

j) Sensors in the automatic doors – to prevent closing on an object (just like a vertical elevator door).

k) Clearance at end of track – to prevent crushing a maintenance person (this is regulated by the elevator code).

l) Fenced track enclosure – to prevent unauthorized access.

Headlands Reserve LLC is also proposing the addition of video cameras for monitoring passengers.

Who will be installing the Crosslift Model Inclined Elevator?

Outdoor Engineers, Inc. Oswald Graber has installed many of the Crosslift Inclined Elevators throughout the world.

The Crosslift is the model name. Outdoor Engineers, Inc. has two systems models for commercial passenger transportation:

a) Crosslift: cog rail system as proposed for the Dana Point project

b) Crossliner: rope pulled system

Most of the components are produced by Inauen-Schaetti AG in Switzerland. Some parts (e.g. track rails, support towers, controls, etc.) are produced in the US. However, the “heart” of the system comes out of Switzerland.

The components company was founded 1961 by Albert Schatti. 1997 Inauen-Schatti AG was formed (previously Math. Streiff AG, since 1957).

Outdoor Systems, Inc. has a long history of building and installing several types of “ropeways” all around the world. This includes:

Material transport (used in logging, construction, etc.)

Passenger tramways

Ski lifts: fixed grip and high speed chairlifts (high speed means the cars are slowing down in the stations while the hauling cable keeps running at its full designed speed)

Gondola ropeways

People mover (cable car)

How is the equipment maintained?

City staff routinely inspect the vehicle and monitor it's operation. Periodic maintenance is performed by Outdoor Engineers (the installers). Annual inspections are performed by State elevator safety inspectors with any required followup performed by State certified elevator mechanics.