Kevin Steele, Dana Point

I believe the city of Dana Point has a very difficult dilemma to contend with. A group of individuals, primarily out of Capo Beach, have banded together while aligning themselves with a rich developer focused on his own personal self-interest. If you read the Dana Point Times frequently, you will find a steady stream of editorials from the “Capo Cares Crew,” Buck, Betty, Toni, Barbara and Steve. They want you to believe that our City Council is crooked, that our city is falling apart, that development is bad and that tourism will destroy our town. Over the last few years we have seen this group successfully curtail development in our town center. No new projects have been approved since Measure I passed. With the referendum on vacation rentals, we have dramatically impacted one of our cities top tax sources. Now they are working hard to replace our city manager and city attorney. In two years they will work hard to get another seat on the board, so that they will have total control. Partnering with people like Sanford Edward mean they now have deep pockets. They are truly a force to be reckoned with.

In my view our city has improved dramatically over the last decade. The vision behind the Town Center finally came to fruition, there are wonderful events being held in Dana Point consistently throughout the year, our Harbor is getting a well-deserved makeover and we finally have a solid strategy with Doheny Village. Crime is down and financially our city has taken on no debt, unlike most of our neighboring cities. There has been real progress and if this is something you support, we need to band together to rise up against what the Capo Cares people are trying to do. We are at a critical juncture in our city’s history; I think it would be a shame to let these people throw it all away.

To submit a letter to the editor, email

About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (19)

  • Very well said. They are not nice about it either, if anyone dares to stand up to them they take it very personal and turn it into drama while spreading rumors and exaggerating information to make others look bad.

    What’s sad is they have time and money, while many of us are raising families and working they have the resources that it takes to control the city and completely destroy progress and potential.

    While the city should band together against these efforts the time, money, and energy it takes cannot be underestimated and it’s much easier to stay in one’s own space and avoid them and be happy in our own little pockets of Dana Point and just hope they don’t intrude too much. . I would love to help, but it will need to be organized and there will need to be tremendous resources or it’s futile. Let me know when the meetings will start.

  • The Capo Cares contingent are convinced our city council is burning through money and yet they are pushing hard for the city to spend millions on improving Pines Park. The cost to fix beach erosion at Capo Beach would also be extraordinarily expensive, while also being determental to the environment as highlighted by the Surfrider Foundation. Unfortunately if they don’t get what they want, they can simply call Uncle Sanford to pony up a few bucks for a another referendum.

    No conflict of interest there, right Toni, Betty?

  • long time capo beach resident Reply

    TO: Kevin, Shevy and Concerned : you three are so un-informed, mis-informed and shamefully spreading lies and mis-information on so many issues. If you want to write informative letters, you all need to study the issues, fact-find, and then write about things that are actually happening in the city.

  • Interesting point, so is the women proposing the large city expenditures for a park and beach erosion repair next to her home in Capistrano Beach is the same Toni Nelson recently appointed to the Dana Point Financial Audit Committee? Seems like a massive conflict of interest.

  • 100% agree. Although a correction to the article it’s measure H that passed (not I). What do you know, we’ve had a complete stand still with development. This is exactly what you don’t want to happen. Ugh, so shortsighted. Well I guess we prevented the “traffic nightmare” or “parking nightmare” or whatever nonsense they spewed. Instead we have absolutely no one walking around downtown, and empty vacant lots. Sweet!

    • Not to mention families that have been coming here and staying in homes for generations, some over 50 years that no longer feel welcome in our city. Great message we are sending about Dana Point. .

  • Concerned in Dana Point Reply

    Chevy, Dana Point Local, actually business is not a stand still, as Long Time Capo Beach Resident rightly points out in his post, this is factually not accurate. There has been one new business that has opened since the passage of Measure H and that would be the Black Lantern Tattoo parlor on Del Prado. Obviously we’ve witnessed many business that have shuttered since H’s passage, but that is the only new business that has opened in our town center since H.. Very unfortunate. Our county is experiencing an extraordinary economic boom, interest rates are still very low and yet no new development. Unfortunately, anyone with good business sense would stay far away from Dana Point due to Capo Cares/Save Dana Point. The PAC they have created is very powerful, well funded by Sanford Edward’s and clearly they are anti-development.

    • concerned in Dana Point- We agree and seem to be 100% on this same side on this issue, Capo Cares policies/ Save Dana Points agenda’s have been very bad for the city.

      In particular their success in shutting down the permit process for Short term rentals, not to mentioned everything else you list.

      I’ve personally witnessed damaged caused by Save Dana Point and Capo cares actions to homeowners in Dana Point.

      It’s disappointing.

  • This letter is nothing more than an unsubstantiated hatchet job and we should be embarrassed that it’s even in print. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If Kevin Steele wants to make outrageous claims like “aligning themselves with a rich developer”, then we ought to demand that he at least provide some shred of proof to back it up. Instead, he doubles down on the muckraking, again without offering a shred of proof, that somehow Capo Cares has “successfully curtail development in our town center”. The real icing on the cake is that Mr. Steele doesn’t know the difference between Measure H and Measure I. Psst Kevin: Measure I is the smokescreen our “crooked” city council promoted to try and trick people into allowing massive development. Also, at least some of us saw through the smoke and it failed to pass.

  • Concerned in Dana Point Reply

    DP Native. Sanford Edward’s donated $20,000 to the Save Dana Point PAC. That is more than Mr. Edward’s donated to all of city council members combined over the last decade. By a lot. This is extremely easy to prove. Save Dana Point has a close affiliation with Capo Cares, they share much of the same leadership. Save Dana Point and Capo Cares were the main advocates that lobbied for Mayor Lewis and Councilman Wyatt. Their website is still operating….

    Regarding Measure H, can you point me to a single new permit that has been approved in the town center since the passage of the Measure. Outside of the Black Lantern Tattoo Parlor, I’m also not aware of any new businesses opening either. Unfortunately with our community, both Measure H and Measure I were dogs, we were were set up to lose either way.

  • New in DP = and Sad Reply

    Question for anyone out there – Why does the Capo Beach area receive 42% of the Capital Improvement budget but only pays 20% of the property tax revenue (which is only 22% of the town’s revenue, the other comes from sales, transfer and TOT,, but again, probably more business and hotels in MB and LD, thus Capo probably only pays 10-15% of the total town revenue)? As a newbie, a little worried that the wool is being pulled over everyone eyes.

    Plus, my understanding, those same people are anti-everything, except fixing their streets and their parks. I look forward to a response and hopefully the neutral FRC committee looks into this, or am I just fooling myself? Concerned, because we have so much potential yet nothing is getting developed, except tattoo parlors are opening (that should drive revenue LOL). New in DP and Sad.

  • New IN DP-

    Is the above analysis accurate? (CAP ex spent specifically in capo beach) Could you provide some reference? Also – is that value reflected the proposed budget? Or is this a historical analysis you performed? Sorry to ask for a bunch of legwork,…….

    To be fair- I have no issue with CAPO receiving a large share of CAPEX moving forward and I am not sure why anyone else would either. We did spend a lot up here in the Lantern District and don’t see a tremendous need for anything else. Monarch Beach just doesn’t have the type of city infrastructure that would need significant upgrades. (at least I don’t see them). Overall, I would suggest we do fix up CAPO.

    With that said, the great irony in so many Capo residents having some sort of personal feelings about parking in front of my house. (YES, I live near the Raintree project, and I am speaking of “SAVE DANA POINT”), is that any of these dev. fees / operating taxes from additional projects which would have eventually hit the city have been reduced. As in, why no money for CAPO improvements? A lack of development in the Lantern District has contributed.

    And before anyone say, “well, you spent too much on the LD improvements” – the fact is that “Save Dana Point” came long after those decisions were made and improvements in place. Every time some Capo resident wrote in and bashed potential development in the Lantern District I was so confused.

    I feel bad for the CAPO CARES group. I am on their email listing, and their leaderships is actually quite amazing. Unless things have changed their group simply fights hard for resources to be dedicated to their area of the city. I can respect that. No different than me fighting hard for the Lantern District improvements. I don’t see a political connection to “Save Dana Point” other than the leaders of both groups reside in that area. (Although I also only get my news through this website and beers at turks!)


    • Capo Cares does do some good work, their motives are questionable in many cases from what I have seen.

      The problem I have with Capo Cares is they are willing to tell mistruths to accomplish their goals and infringe on the entire cities property rights for their own self-interest. While severely mistreating and disrespecting anyone that voices an opposing view. Even refusing to discuss or compromise with opposing groups leadership, Often making outlandish claims to justify their position.

    • New in DP = and Sad Reply

      Some leg work was done. I reviewed a document which shows since FY 2005 – the Capital Improvement Program Projects and Undergrounding Projects -that 42% was spent. The Capo Beach Land Area population and property tax evaluation range being 21-22%. So, it is historical, however looking forward I see issues with the underground sewer system, the erosion issues, Pines Park and at some point beach erosion (however, I believe that is the responsibility of the homeowner). Then again, my 6th grade teacher said the oceans would rise by 3 feet within the next 20 years, yet that hasn’t happened and it’s been 35 years.

      And I am also in agreement on a few fronts: I do give credit to any group that fights for their issues. However, I am from MB and I live in an HOA, same with about 80% of MB residents. I pay for my streets to be repaved, etc…thru my HOA, and some parts of the LD have those too. My concern is fairness. Maybe the Capo area should have a special tax district or have their own HOA. But 42% is a high number. In all fairness if it was around 30% I probably wouldn’t care. But, as I read this paper and the Save Dana Point, Capo Cares websites and see so much anti-development talk, I feel that we, as a city, are missing out on so much revenue potential. And, as you state, “Save Dana Point” came long after those improvements were made.

      It’s just so sad to see so much potential lost. We literally could have an extra $4-6 million in property tax, sales tax and additional TOT tax revenue, if we got our act together and developed downtown. Then, we wouldn’t have silly arguments comparing our police services budget against Laguna Hills (which might be the biggest laugher I have seen in a while, and the Sheriff just shredded apart at the last council meeting), or cutting the great services our city staff provide to all of the residents. This city is unbelievable, yet we are missing out on the biggest economic boom in a long time. We are 8 years into an economic cycle, they don’t last too long. Just hope we don’t miss the great opportunity in front of us, that we might regret for years to come or the next down cycle hits and no developers have any interest or they have no cash (cash is abundant now but that doesn’t last forever). Sad!!!!!

      • 1. Your first paragraph makes no sense.
        2. The city’s own consultants projected $575,000 per year in city revenue from both sales tax and
        property tax at full build out of the Lantern District. Maybe you know something they dont?
        There is no $-4-6 million pot of gold hiding in the Lantern District, just misspent capital.

        • New in DP - and Sad Reply

          1st paragraph is pretty clear – Capo received 42% of the Capital Improvement Budget but paid way less (at least since 2005). And, the comment on the Ocean rising is kind of a joke, against the non stop screaming about global warming, cooling or now climate change, that a bunch of hypocrites have been spouting for the last 40 years (since earth day began), as they fly in their jets and preach to the fools who listen.

          2nd, was just a guess – but if we had 1000 extra hotel rooms and most folks stayed in town, instead of going to Laguna Beach, I would speculate the revenue would be a little higher than those consultants projected. The real point is, nothing is going on because of a few anti development types who are against everything: development, business, and the police force (our Mayor voted against the police at the last meeting, and the Mayor Pro Tem kind of did, he brought the motion to delay, but then in turn, turned so he wouldn’t look bad – and we wonder who is playing games?). And, BTW – the downtown looks good, except those ugly holes. Fill them up and let the revenue roll in.

  • At least $25 million in hard construction costs and associated legal and planning expense was spent during 2014 – 2015 on the Lantern District. Some of that was financed by selling $3.5 million in Capo Beach parkland and transferring the proceeds to fund the Lantern District.

    Nothing remotely close to that has ever been spent in Capo Beach. “New in DP” is apparently unaware of where the real money has been spent. As to Michael’s comment about no one saying anything before the LD funds were all spent, the Save DP crew was at the April 14 2014 meeting when the council voted to put all our financial eggs in the LD basket and protested that decision in the meeting and a subsequent letter to the DP Times. The decision by council members Bill Brough, Carlos Olvera and Steven Weinberg to sink so much of our city’s net worth into that project will be remembered as the worst council decision ever. That kind of ignorant decision making is why we need a Financial Review Committee. Too many of our council members were and are financially illiterate.

  • The continued attacks on individuals and civic organizations is disappointing, especially when the real issues are being ignored. Here are some of them again:
    — Expenses up 40%+ while revenues only grew 3% over 10 years
    — City staff of 70 now vs 48 ten years ago, with no change in population
    — The highest budget per capita for police services of any contract city in the county. Making excuses about why we are higher than Laguna Hills willfully misses the point. We are higher than EVERY other city, at $319/citizen. (Compare to: San Clemente – $203, Laguna Niguel – $166, for example.)

    Why do supporters of our legacy councilmen Viczorek, Muller, and Tomlinson choose to focus not on these facts, but on smear campaigns to discredit others and to try to divide the city? The whole city is affected by their legacy of fiscal mismanagement, not just Capo Beach or Monarch Beach or Dana Point or Town Center. A more constructive approach would be to either explain and defend these financial decisions, or join the effort to change course and get our financial house in order. For instance, why were Mayor Lewis and Councilman Wyatt the only council members pushing to review the police contract? (Some have called this anti-police, which is silly. Reviewing contracts is just sound fiscal management, especially when the contract is the highest around.)

    We are overdue for a comprehensive review of city finances. Why wouldn’t everyone support this? If we join together to solve our problems, we can keep Dana Point the great city it is, for all of us.

comments (19)

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>