By Toni Nelson and Patricia O’Keefe, Capistrano Beach
On February 1, 1994 a Los Angeles Times article proclaimed “Workshop to Air Doheny Village Plans.” It said planners were presenting three visions for the historic 150-acre area, saying it could remain the “sleepy small-town community it has been for decades or become the major industrial and commercial base of the city” depending on which plan the City Council chose.
Fast forward 21 years and what has happened? Very little.
This “sleepy small-town community” has been substantially neglected since that time and has become an eyesore in an otherwise vibrant, resort-like town that is rapidly becoming a favorite tourist destination. There have been attempts to rekindle the concept along the way, and in 2010, council was granted $350,000 to prepare a plan. An Orange County Register article dated March, 2010 was headed “New Doheny Village—Reality or Just Talk?” Unfortunately, once again, it was just talk. The article concluded: “The planning process is expected to take about a year, but no timetable has been set.”
That’s the problem. No timetable was set, and five years later, it’s still not set. Although public meetings were held in 2012/13, Roma Designs was hired, and the entire grant was spent, work on the plan was stopped in favor of Town Center. We’re told, however, that the plan is virtually finished.
In July 2010, an article in the Dana Point Times announced the award of a contract for the Doheny Village Plan to ROMA Design Group and City Manager Doug Chotkevys referred to the move as “a big night for the city of Dana Point” and said he wouldn’t be surprised if Doheny Village revitalization “leapfrogs the Town Center.”
Now, five years later, residents and business owners are planning to attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 2 to request a commitment to complete the plan. We are appealing to City Council for four actions. First, we want a clearly defined timeline (hopefully not to exceed one year) to take the plan from its current stage to a published Specific Plan with EIR that is ready for Coastal Commission hearings. Second, we request that funds be allocated in the two-year budget cycle commencing July 1 to perform some basic cleaning, lighting, and landscaping improvements along Doheny Park Road and continuing down PCH to Palisades Drive. The area deserves a little facelift to attract the tourists who will arrive at the new trolley stop.
Third, we are asking Council to budget the modest investment needed for a sherriff’s satellite station and bicycle patrols in Doheny Village. Merchants and Capo Cares have repeatedly asked for such a station, which research suggests might improve public safety and curb nuisances and unsavory behavior in the area.
Last, we’re asking for a specific financial reserve for Doheny Village revitalization with funds set aside each year for infrastructure costs associated with plan implementation. We believe this critical revitalization will not happen without both the political will and financial resources to see it through.
We believe strongly that 21 years is long enough to wait for badly needed improvements in Doheny Village. We understand that Dana Point’s capital reserves are at a historic low. There are, however, choices to be made in the city’s $34 million operating budget. Somewhere in there, funds can be found for completing the specific plan and doing some minimal aesthetic improvements right now. In fact, we have already funded these projects to an extent, since a vacant parcel of Capo Beach park land was sold for $3.6 million in 2014, with said funds used entirely for Town Center.
We are grateful that the city answered Capo Cares’ plea for landscape improvements at Palisades and PCH and it paved and plans to landscape one of the vacant lots on Doheny Park Road. However, major improvements are necessary before women and children feel comfortable walking in this area and it becomes the vibrant shopping and entertainment district this upmarket community will support. Without a commitment from City Council, we fear this plan will languish for more years, at which time the area may not be salvageable.
To support this effort, we are asking Dana Point residents, businesses and other interested parties to attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 2 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center. For those who wish to address council, request forms for three-minute speeches can be obtained through http://bit/ly/1FcyGRj. If you cannot attend the meeting, please email City Clerk Kathy Ward, email@example.com (copy to firstname.lastname@example.org) and request that your letter be copied to all council members and included in their agenda packets.
We are members of Capo Cares, a grassroots organization of Capistrano Beach residents. We are a non-partisan advocacy group with the sole purpose of improving aesthetics, safety and quality of life in our beautiful coastal community. We exist to unify neighbors in one voice to lobby for improvements that enrich and improve life in our neighborhoods. To join us, send an email to email@example.com. Remember also to “like” our Facebook page and share with your neighbors: www.facebook.com/CapoCares/.