Betty Hill, Capistrano Beach
Mr. Kaufman’s sanctimonious letter (Dana Point Times, Aug.1-7) attempting to state the facts about the Town Center project left out a few salient details. While Dana Point did not incur debt to pay for the Town Center improvements, it resorted to significant deficit spending to extract $20 million in 24 months from the city’s cash and reserves, constituting a 60 percent reduction to the lowest level in 15 years.
At the June 17City Council meeting, Councilman Bill Brough, Carlos Olvera and Steven Weinberg high jacked the agenda raiding much of the city’s free cash and several reserve accounts to lock in $7.7 million for four blocks of Del Prado Avenue streetscape and road improvements. Town Center property owners will benefit at the expense of the majority of Dana Point and its residents.
Many citizens were in favor of improving the appearance of Town Center and having more shops and restaurants but most were not aware of the details of the plan adopted in 2008. No facts were given about the monstrous deficit spending for improvements, mainly palm trees and sidewalks, which will not inspire builders to risk developing Town Center and creating shops and restaurants.
Private development is required, which hinges on the needs and requirements of the building industry over the next 10 to 15 years. Instead the city is desperately subsidizing developers with low development impact fees and even has proposed to take on the obligation of providing parking when the project doesn’t provide what is required. The Majestic Project deficit could eventually cost the city $1.5 million.
Mr. Kaufman could have mentioned that the Town Center Plan calls for a maximum of three stories and architecture creating “a small town village atmosphere,” contrary to the Majestic Project’s four stories and generic appearance. Agreeing to Majestic’s demands for multiple variances and concessions would decimate the Town Center Plan and set a disastrous precedent for future projects.
At the July 14 Planning Commission meeting, Mr. Kaufman suggested a possible zoning change to help developers. Zoning changes to increase the plan’s height allowance from 40 feet to 50 or 60 feet or allowing four stories instead of the maximum three allowed would significantly increase Town Center property values and help developers like Majestic increase their profits by creating a “condo district” and traffic nightmare that would not be at all appealing to residents or visitors.
The “Lantern District Outcry” is underway. Claiming support for the costly Town Center plan along with development projects that require variances, zoning changes and city concessions is truly disingenuous and ultimately disastrous. Residents are becoming aware of the deception about the development of Town Center being spun by you and your Town Center colleagues.
The city should not be sending out the message to developers that it is willing to sell out Dana Point residents and accept their demands.
To truly speed progress on the Town Center revitalization, the Planning Commission, City Council and community development staff should act responsibly for all Dana Point residents and let developers and Town Center property owners know that projects must meet the requirements of the Town Center Plan.