From the OCRegister on January 27th 2016:
DANA POINT – A cliffside cable car designed in Switzerland is being tested this week at the north end of Strand beach and will be open to riders by Saturday, city officials say.
The new beige funicular – that can take eight riders at one time – replaces the green one installed in 2007 by Strand at Headlands developer Sanford Edward. For the past eight years, the free funicular has given the public an option other than the nearby staircase to get down to Strand beach.
Edward gave the funicular to the city in 2008. The $680,000 replacement project was approved by the City Council in October 2014 after officials noted the cable car was showing signs of wear in the corrosive marine environment.
The city used Inauen-Schatti AG – the same Swiss manufacturer Edward had commissioned for the first car – because the rails and other infrastructure were already in place, officials said.
“We picked the equivalent of a Mercedes Benz,” Edward said about his decision to use the company, which manufactures ski lifts and other cliff cable cars.
The replacement funicular was installed last month and got permits from state inspectors last week. The project was paid for by the city’s Strands Community Facilities District.
“People may see it operating this week for testing purposes to make sure all the programming and control equipment are working exactly to specification, then it will be reopening to the public on Saturday with its normal operating schedule, said Mike Rose, who oversees the cable car and its operation.
In winter time, the funicular operates on weekends and holidays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. After Memorial Day it will run daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The funicular was a mitigation effort to allow construction of gates at Strand Vista Park above the multimillion dollar homes, Sanford said. Those gates have become a source of litigation between the city of Dana Point and the California Coastal Commission.
The commission in November demanded the gates be removed but has given the city an extension until the end of this month to file its response on why the gates have not come down.
City Attorney Patrick Munoz said the city is working with the Coastal Commission to resolve the matter, and is in active settlement discussions with them.
Munoz said the city is not operating the gates for the time being.