Letter: City Rolls the Dice on Town Center

Betty Hill, Capistrano Beach

Residents generally support the Town Center/Lantern District project, designed to beautify the city and encourage new business development.

While the concept is appealing, Dana Point taxpayers who are funding the project should be warned that, in reality, the project is an ambitious and costly undertaking for our city. As admitted by Dana Point staff at the March 18th council meeting, the city is “rolling the dice” by fronting the development costs.

And although construction has begun, several key issues still need to be resolved.

Financing is a major concern. Dana Point is spending $13 million for just the first phase of the project, which is 45 percent of the city’s anticipated 2014 income of approximately $29 million. This year’s large budget deficit will be funded from the city’s reserves, mainly to cover the Town Center project. Phase two of the project could cost an additional $7 million to $9 million.

Anticipated development fees will return only a small percentage of the cost to the city, although developers typically pay the majority of the cost. Property owners in Town Center are also receiving a gift from taxpayers by not being asked to contribute to the cost of their improvements.

The Town Center plan assumes the improvements will stimulate retail and residential development. However, at the joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting, the council was told by its consultant that the parking requirements in the plan appear to be an impediment for developers. The city is now considering reducing the number of required parking spaces, which will impact nearby residents.

A representative of the building industry told the council that the height limit in Town Center is a major obstacle for developers to overcome. Raising the height allowance would encourage developers and increase property values in Town Center, but would adversely impact our community.

With the construction of phase one almost complete, the city should stop “rolling the dice” with taxpayer money. Dana Point’s resources are limited and the city must satisfy its many obligations throughout Dana Point and be able to fund other important programs that benefit residents and attract visitors.

Hopefully, Town Center will begin to meet expectations by actual requests for building permits. Until then, the City Council should reconsider future spending on the project and give priority to the financial well-being of all of Dana Point.

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5 Responses to “Letter: City Rolls the Dice on Town Center”

  1. Dave Bartholomew
    March 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    In Betty Hill / Capo Beach resident article: “Town Center will begin to meet expectations by actual requests for building permits.” I like Betty’s article and her thinking, unless her point is to put residents back to sleep. Her message “to open your eyes, hear the coming of hooves pounding, smell the dead fish” it should be delivered more like a 7-point earth quake. Instead, her message is a bit like saying, “The Denver Bronco’s will need to address Seattle Seahawk obstacles to positively, substantiate a return to winning form.” Some say, “Do the Math” or “Check the Math”. I say, “The Math is Written in Stone” and city contractors are perched like vultures for this Math is a done and dead deal for taxpayers to bare. So please, just stop!

    What Betty doesn’t say, what residents don’t know, is that one minute after the 2010 City Council passed the up-Zoning in Town Center, that meant the building heights to increase from two story to four story, the increase in property equity was transferred to the property owner, that very minute. There is no motivation for new Developers’ unless they push and payoff City Council for higher building heights / higher density, being deaf, dumb and blind to community parking impacts / the motivation to continue to build higher, to the outer limits. Betty’s letter is too soft, but her effort is far better than people who are apathetic and refuse to write letters at all.

    It is too late, “just one minute too late” to think that “new Developers” will prosper by investing in Dana Point. To stress my emphasis, please take a moment to stand in front of Carl’s Jr. look across Coast Hwy at the lost ocean views. Take another moment to imagine the huge parking building in the harbor at Harbor Dr. and Golden Lantern, views and environment lost. Will more boating activity cause more disease upon Baby Beach? Please council, just stop!

    REVIEW: The Town Center money is already in the pocket of the 2010 property owners; lucky them. But, the best views, the best ocean environment is still here, for a while, but only if this City Council / Supervisors are not all stopped. Residents! Only you can stop the past bad decisions of dumb, and-or corrupt City Council. Yet you won’t write the tough, loud, “… heard around the world complaints”. I beg that you try harder and fight against this publishers attempt to put residents back to sleep.

    From my perspective, all City Council vultures in eagles clothing, are instead a disguised Developer’s Council. Expect the very worse still to come. Expect that County Supervisor / GOP landlords ‘Developers’ will make moves to up rents, wreck the ocean environments. Continue to payoff past mayors with promises of bright GOP careers.

    It is one thing, for Betty Hill nice letters to warn the community of the impending crash. But, to whisper that a crash has already occurred, that there is proof in the planning, this is sad to me, for to whisper that the theater is on fire can actually backfire. In my humble opinion, her letter can be seen instead, as powerful propaganda to put residents back to sleep. I say, her letter’s subjects and issues should be delivered as-if a 7-point shocker on the Richter Scale not a 2-point ho-hum discussion. DaveBartholomew@cox.net is for family and residents, not the out-of-towners’, special interest Land Baron developers.

    • Sue Osborne
      April 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      David, please contact me ASAP to discuss ways to halt this high impact development. I am a business owner & cringe at the thought of DP becoming yet another homogenized, So. Cal. Buildout! Am also at the bullseye center of it all, & just want the local residents aware what is in store for their town. Other than the street , sidewalk, & landscaping they are TOTALLY UNAWARE,; WITHOUT A CLUE! Sue

      • Dave Bartholomew
        April 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

        To Sue Osborne
        If you want me, Dave Bartholomew to contact you, then leave a phone or email in the blog. Like DaveBartholomew@cox.net or 949 388-1827 in Dana Point / Harbor Pointe resident. I am not psychic and cannot read your mind. BUT, if you are one of a thousand business on the COUNT ME IN – LIST of Dana Point business interest and increase commerce interest, who collectively do not want overbuilding / like Santa Monica, like Newport, like future San Juan Capistrano, then email me. I will call you back.
        Everyone wants the city to establish view and line of sight laws to be respectful of all property owners, rich or poor; but City Hall members take money from both City-Vendors, O.C. Supervisor Landlords and Land Baron Developers. A triangle of both politicians and land owners who will grab land opportunities and to hell with the people who are harmed by over development, stupid development.

        Sue, I have a small handful of older residents who always disagree with City Council New Development. We need to have people put their name on a list, like this blog. We need to have our community friends who stand up in the closet, to come out and stand up in public, before the Harbor and Downtown City Hall decisions wreck this community.
        If you think that business is bad now, sliding lower in a recession, it will get much worse, because Dana Point elective officials do not respect home grown business, artists, restaurant owners, quality hotel attractions. We need to address the needs of local residents, who live here, work here and are invested here. Not the money that comes in from out-of-towners, the oil-money, the China-money, the outsiders who will capitalize upon the American Dream opportunities of Dana Point and South Orange County. I am talking to seniors, people who want to see their children and grand children live long and prosper, within our local community concept, if possible. No. I am not only, a Dana Point romantic.

  2. DanaPointer
    March 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    I just walked through the empty parking lots and dead car traffic filled town center, I hold heartedly support the revilitazation and would support reducing parking requirements especially if it gets us wider sidewalks that allow sidewalk tables, parklets etc.

    Council, thanks for slowly making the dream a reality, and dana point can finally become the town it deserves to be.

    • Dave Bartholomew
      March 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

      Do you remember when the Dana Point remodeling occurred over decades past? The PCH highway, the harbor, the various hotels, the Headlands, the CUSD Recall? Can you now separate that which did benefit the community as a whole vs. the special interest outsiders?

      to alyssagarrett831
      “… can finally become the town it deserves to be”.
      Dana Point residents are like Laguna and Newport residents; they do not deserve merit, but instead the recognition goes to individuals in the community, residents who work, having hands-on investment in retail shops and restaurants. Their efforts are equal to the supply and demand, they pray-for profit, expect a return on investment, of their career-effort hard work. THEREFORE: If I was a business owner in Laguna, Newport and knew the City was to increase taxable-windfalls, simply because they doubled and tripled the zoning … well … I would be furious! Outraged, that the City would ignore supply-and-demand math and act only for out-of-towners’, special interests. This means you, hotel owners, retail shops, restaurant owners.

      “ … I hold heatedly support the revitalization
      Dana Point residents and businesses investors should immediatly organize a campaign to stop City Hall, for the “revitalization” will revitalize no one; just the opposite. Supply will increase, demand will decrease. Did anyone care to pay attention, that enrollment in the schools is going down and that this fact does despite illegal immigrant residences going up! Our Seniors’ Residents are today contemplating, on the edge to also pick-up and go, to take their equity-money and run. (as my parents were forced to do after the 1990’s great O.C. recession.) There is nothing in City Hall planning to warrant, to earn our respect that “revitalization” is on the horizon.

      “… and would support reducing parking requirements “
      Dana Point residents who say they can still recall, the decade after decade review, in how the Lantern Street properties became a parking slum. Seniors who are numerous and active may say, “Well, we are all sad; but I don’t get out much anymore”. I say, “This is the time to turn back the clocks” and slow or stop the disease impacting our neighbors.

      To my Seniors Group, ask ourselves, “What could we have done?” The answer is, to say, “Just-Stop!”. Take one more step, to tell City Hall to immediately stop giving special interest real estate speculators cart blanch permission to Up-the-Densities, ignoring decades old rules of the parking requirements. These Zoning Codes are legal mandates and they are engraved in stone, one of the commandments of city remodeling, for benefiting community protection, they are effective, smart guidelines! Don’t let these ‘Investor-Outsiders (R.E./ Broker/City Council)’ vote again to up the Parking-Densities. What can the ordinary Dana Point resident do? Please write a letter and keep doing so until you get our elected GOP officials to answer in writing. When election time comes, see what their voting record was, in tearing down the residents’ security and protection laws. ANSWER: To stop destructive methodologies, we must all, discuss the situation, to VOTE to stop the authors of destruction undermining of our once high standard of living.

      “ … especially if it gets us wider sidewalks”
      Dana Point residents allow retailers to do this now. But it takes a group effort, not by outsiders / investors, but by the merchants who participate in tried and proven display methods.

      “ … that allow sidewalk tables, parklets etc.”
      Dana Point residents allow retailers enough ‘display already’ as I see it everywhere when driving through the city. D.P. Commerce Officials must be smarter …

      “… thanks for slowly making the dream a reality,”
      Dana Point residents must know, in Laguna, in Newport, it is not the clumsy, real estate broker and attorney City Councils who made the communities so very friendly, artsy, welcoming, small town interesting but IN-VOTING-IN the designers to be City Council, the artists’ to be City Council, the architects, the dancers, the musicians, the poets to be City Council. There is no sign, no blue-print, no planning layout, no descriptive intent by this City Council that would verify that they participate in dreams that would add charm to the community. Show me just one that is not twisted propaganda? Please.

      In closing, please know that you are in the 1-a-1000 percentile that read this public blog discussion. As far as I know, there is not one person who has attempted to contacted me to say ‘good, bad or otherwise’. This confirms my speculation that this blog is for propaganda purposes.
      Dave Bartholomew wrote this looking for the CUSD Recallers’ … or the Headlands / Mayoral recallers … anyone awake?

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