Letter: True Lies about Dana Point’s Town Center

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.

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2 Responses to “Letter: True Lies about Dana Point’s Town Center”

  1. Dave Bartholomew
    August 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Betty said, “… it resorted to significant deficit spending to extract $20 million in 24 months from the city’s cash and reserves”
    My opinion is that this sudden, unsubstantiated spending of our precious tax dollars is similar to what happened at Capistrano Unified School District. The money managers like David Doomey CUSD / Doug Chotkevys, DP City Manager are counterparts, the mainstream way in which contacting that has an actual costs of $1 / not the $100 corruptly contracted. ( see Independence Day, David’s father Julius: “You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”)
    Why spend money when there was no need, no study done?
    Betty describes the immoral acts, omissions and deceptions: “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 street-scape and road improvements.”
    Betty is so nice and considerate; while I say listen here, raise you voice for the freedom and liberty bell is ringing loudly: a citizens alert!
    City Council GOP-Corrupt-Contractors are putting on a Dog-n-Pony show just as they did at CUSD, with Bait and Switch tactics!
    Dana Point citizens actually believed that city council and engineers could construct an “Economy Revitalization Plan” This was sheer ignorance; otherwise, they should be working in Washington D.C.!
    I ASK WHY? WHY DO MORE OF THE SAME, WHEN THESE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS ARE NOW HURTING! We do far better than the rest of the U.S.
    What was the goal, the original discussion? CITIZENS DID EXPECT ‘A ROBUST ECONOMY, INSTEAD WE GET, GHETTO BUSTING (4-story) APARTMENTS! This hurts the local economy in many ways.
    Betty quotes “… the (upgrade the) appearance of Town Center and having more shops and restaurants but most (citizens) were not aware of the details of the plan adopted in 2008.”
    I say, the new elevations of 4 story construction appears to be a duplication of 405 Frwy Condo Apartments in Irvine. A side effect product of the Great Park / El Toro closures – a bait-n-switch deception upon all O.C., a blight in the making!
    What is the appearance Betty describes? To me, the appearance is 4 story apartments? UGLY. UNNECESSARY. NO REASON AT ALL, FOR THE COUNCIL TO SPEND ONE DIME! ROMA IS-BURNING ARCHITECTS, work for developers goals, not our community goals; they designs serve Land Baron Landlords, they are complete opposites to our revitalization economic goals. ( lies!)
    The architects presentation now, to be seen again this Monday, is that of a ghetto arrangement. The Dana Point Land Barons strike again! As if no one really cares or gives a damn.
    Betty says, “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??? /// by creating a “condo district” ??? THIS BECOMES A “traffic nightmare!”
    Betty is right to say, “.. the deception about the development of Town Center being spun by you (H. Kaufman / City Council, Managers and Engineers ) and your Town Center colleagues.” She would be right to say, “This is a disgrace!” It is one thing, for example, for L.A. Times Land Barons to take a quick profit of the Stands Beach, but this example in Town Center is where the ‘investor considerations should stop’, otherwise, it appears as if Council, Lawyers, Engineers and Managers are all in bed with the Land Barons!
    We have no leadership, to express old fashion values, “The Buck Stops Here”. Instead, the appearance gives the community the impression they are all riding the gravy train of Apartment Land-lording, much more sinful and immoral than the Times Land Barons / Headlands community campaign.

    From my experience, from 1978 “Prop 13” to “Save the Headlands” to “Recall of CUSD – getting new Trustees to fire the Superintendent Fleming, Doomey, the new Trustees would instead turn out to be turn-coats, GOP vultures appointed by GOP-Santa Margarita to replace the old ones, GOP-Irvine.
    We need to clean house, but to clean house with honest people with a history of integrity. All these Council now have a history of deceptions upon the public unknown for a decade but now coming into transparent view. Clearly, their deceptive practice is seen to be, to steal tax coffer savings the citizen refuse to give away. ( I hope!) Please copy paste this info to friends.
    To act responsibly for Dana Point residents, the City must put an immediate stop to all Town Center progression. I disagree with Betty, to say the problem can be managed, as in ‘mitigated’. She says, “ To truly speed progress on the Town Center revitalization, the Planning Commission, City Council and community development staff should act responsibly.” This statement proposes that an addict can turn over a new leaf. I disagree. DP council is mixed in with an ugly group coming in since city-hood is first established. We were naive to think this tax vulture venue could be weeded out by the first set of city council.
    SUMMARY: We don’t want to speed progress when the direction of such progress is a multimillion dollar train wreck!

  2. Joe Cury
    August 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    At least Mr Kaufman’s letter was factually correct. Your use of the term “deficit spending”, which you used twice, is not an accurate description of the funding for the Lantern District improvements. Your use of that term makes the project seem riskier than it actually is.

    Merriam-Webster defines “deficit spending” as “the spending of public funds raised by borrowing rather than by taxation”. A paper on the St. Louis Fed website entitled “Does the Economy Need More Spending Now?” states “increased deficit spending increases the supply of bonds”. So since even you concede that the city did not incur debt to fund the improvements, no deficit spending occurred.

    Even if bonds were issued, the majority of funds spent still wouldn’t classify as deficit spending. That’s because issuing bonds for spending on capital improvements, as opposed to operating expenses, is not normally considered deficit spending. If interested, you can search for the article entitled “Mike Haridopolos says many states, but not Florida, are deficit spending” on politifact.com for details.

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