The Dana Point Times annually looks back at its coverage throughout the year and compiles a list of the top stories that happened around town.
The year 2022 saw the commencement of construction in the Dana Point Harbor, the Doheny Desalination Plant received final permitting needed to begin construction, and the city received approval of a new program to regulate short-term rentals.
Community members gathered to mourn the losses of beloved figures and celebrate milestone anniversaries with establishments that have been an important part of the fabric of this town.
Residents and visitors came out in droves to the Lantern District for returning events such as the REDO Market, ArtFest and the Dana Point Classic Car Show, as well as celebrated the launching of new events including “Sleigh the Holidays.”
Here are some of the top stories of 2022:
Mayor Joe Muller highlighted public safety, housing affordability and economic recovery as key issues the city continues to face in 2022.
On Jan. 5, Don Hansen, the founder of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, died at age 87.
Dana Point community members came together to collect individually wrapped snacks to donate to health care providers at Mission Hospitals amid the surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 as a part of the Hugs for Heroes program.
In late January, legendary surf icon Joyce Hoffman, who began her surfing career at 13 in Capistrano Beach, was the latest to be honored by the City of Dana Point with a life-sized, bronze statue at Waterman’s Plaza.
The City Council voted to investigate opportunities and methods to maintain local control and tax measures when it comes to regulating cannabis stores, should a ballot initiative pass, inviting the cannabis industry to Dana Point.
The council also voted unanimously to adopt the city’s district voting map, and introduced a zoning code amendment intended to set regulations for homeowners looking to build a duplex or split their lot in a residentially zoned area.
The city unveiled a mural depicting local surf legends and Dana Point landmarks on the corner of Doheny Park Road and Las Vegas Boulevard.
State Assemblymember Laurie Davies introduced legislation, the California Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, which would require school districts to provide parents an opportunity each quarter to learn about their child’s coursework, “including the source of any supplemental educational materials.”
In honor of the late Don Hansen, the city designated a portion of Dana Point Harbor Drive as Don Hansen Memorial Drive.
Hundreds gathered in Dana Point for the 51st annual Festival of Whales, which offered numerous activities and events including the Magical Migration Parade, all celebrating the yearly migration of gray whales.
Carlos Mexican Restaurant & Cantina celebrated its 50th year as a Dana Point business.
Jon’s Fish Market founder Jon Carlton Mansur died at the age of 77. His life was honored in the courtyard at the fish market with a luau and Celebration of Life.
Nearly two years after COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic, California officials announced that indoor mask requirements for students on campus would be lifted.
In late March, the Dana Point Ale House opened its doors for a soft opening. The tap room, which has 25 taps, serves California craft beers from Humboldt to San Diego.
A judge presiding over a class-action lawsuit that boaters filed last fall against the Dana Point Harbor Partners ruled that the case can proceed.
Bringing young students an appreciation for various musical genres, Music Preserves Foundation wrapped up a 10-week program on music history at RH Dana Elementary with a New Orleans jazz performance and second line parade.
Following a successful pilot program, OC United Way launched a permanent financial literacy program at RH Dana Elementary School.
Vintage, second-hand and art sellers packed three blocks of Del Prado Avenue for REDO Vintage Maker’s Market, bringing hundreds of visitors to the Lantern District.
Dana Point held its annual State of the City, providing updates on the city’s progress and investment in arts and culture, as well as celebrating community members who have helped to shape it.
The county released the results of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count, locating 585 people experiencing homelessness in the South Service Planning Area (SPA) out of a total of 5,718—a decrease from the previous report in 2019.
A new nonprofit, the Dana Point Sister Cities, was formed to promote cultural exchanges and international communication through a variety of events centered around marine life, surf, American music, opera and art.
A proposed citizens’ initiative was circulated as part of the signature collection stage, looking to repeal Dana Point’s prohibition against cannabis retail operations. The initiative ultimately failed to qualify for November’s Midterm Election.
Dana Point Police Services was the last patrol station to get its body-worn cameras online. With the department’s adoption of the program, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department fully rolled out its body-worn camera system.
Waterman’s Harbor restaurant closed its doors after eight years in the Dana Point Harbor.
After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the Dana Point ArtFest returned to the Lantern District, allowing more than 60 participating artists to display a variety of fine art such as sculptures, ceramics, glass art, jewelry, painting, drawings, photography, woodworking and metalwork.
The state held its Primary Election, narrowing the field of candidates eligible to run in the Nov. 8 General Election. Incumbent Congressman Mike Levin and Republican challenger Brian Maryott (18.5%) would go on to have a local rematch that originated during the 2020 Presidential Election.
In his bid for the 74th State Assembly District, San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan gained 47.1% of votes in the Primary Election against incumbent Assemblymember Laurie Davies. The two would face off against each other in the fall.
In a report, the Orange County Grand Jury recommended that South Orange County needs a regional, emergency shelter, highlighting shortcomings in the county’s efforts to address homelessness.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the longstanding Roe v. Wade, which protected abortion rights citing a constitutional right to privacy, roughly 50 people gathered at Historic City Hall in Downtown San Clemente to protest.
Independence Day festivities returned with a bang in Dana Point, with lots of events throughout the long holiday weekend. The annual Water Wars in the Dana Point Harbor brought dozens of people on vessels and inflatable boats armed with water guns and buckets to blast fellow boaters in the water.
For two Friday evenings in July, Music Preserves Foundation and the Ocean Institute launched a new series titled Summer Jams, bringing American roots music to life with live music and discussions with the bands.
After years of working toward a solution to regulating short-term rentals, the Dana Point City Council voted, 3-2, with Councilmembers Jamey Federico and Mike Frost dissenting, to approve a new program that will permit and regulate local vacation rentals in the coastal zone only.
A week after the council’s vote, it failed to pass a separate ordinance that would have regulated STRs throughout the rest of the city.
Construction began on the Dana Point Marina, marking the official commencement of the long-awaited, $300 million harbor revitalization project. The waterside improvements are anticipated to take five years.
Memorializing a lifelong legacy of shaping the Dana Point Harbor as the whale watching destination it is today, the plaza formerly known as the Dana Wharf Courtyard was rededicated as the Hansen Plaza in memory of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching founder Don Hansen.
Aug. 16 marked the start of the 2022-23 school year and a hopeful return to normalcy for many families and teachers as students returned to school with fewer COVID-related restrictions.
After running unopposed in their respective districts, the council appointed incumbent Councilmember Jamey Federico, Planning Commission Chairperson John Gabbard and Matthew Pagano, chief financial officer of Pan-Pacific Mechanical, to the three open seats.
The Dana Point Chamber of Commerce presented its annual Dana Point Classic Car Show, bringing thousands of spectators to Del Prado Avenue to enjoy hundreds of custom and classic cars, awards, food trucks, beer gardens and more.
After undergoing extensive maintenance, the Spirit of Dana Point returned home to the harbor—just in time for the Ocean Institute’s annual Maritime Festival the following month.
The California Coastal Commission decided there were “substantial issues” with a recently approved short-term rental program governing vacation rentals in Dana Point’s coastal zone following a series of appeals.
Tall ships returned to the Dana Point Harbor for the Ocean Institute’s 38th annual Maritime Festival. The event featured cannon battles, live music and an inaugural plein air art event.
Dana Point’s Housing Element Update, which is meant to plan for potential population growth and housing needs, received certification by the state housing department.
At the close of the 2021-22 fiscal year, the City of Dana Point saw a surplus of $10.5 million that it will use to fund community-related and capital improvement projects. The council formed a subcommittee to lead the efforts in deciding which projects should be prioritized. Residents weighed in on where they’d like to see the surplus funds allocated.
Ohana Festival returned to Doheny State Beach with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, Jack White of the White Stripes, and Pink headlining the three-day event.
Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner halted commuter train services between South Orange County and Oceanside until further notice because movement on the track in south San Clemente was detected.
In response to the suspension of passenger rail service, the Orange County Transportation Authority authorized emergency track stabilization work, paving the way to begin a $12 million construction project.
The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved South Coast Water District’s permit to construct and operate a seawater desalination plant at Doheny State Beach. The roughly $140 million project is expected to take five years to construct.
Engage, a student-run organization that connects students across the Capistrano Unified School District with a milieu of volunteer opportunities, held its third engagement fair, bringing out 25 nonprofits and other organizations for interested students to meet.
Pines Park and Palisades Gazebo Park in Capistrano Beach were added to the city’s list of historic sites following a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission.
Fred Swegles, a beloved local career newsman and a columnist for Picket Fence Media, community figure and lover of all things San Clemente, died at 74. Swegles had covered San Clemente and other nearby towns for more than 50 years.
The Girl Scouts of Troop 7574 celebrated the reopening of the tot-lot at Sea Canyon Park after a 10-month effort of working with city officials to design a new play structure.
Turning back the clock to 1972, when a top sirloin steak cost $4.95, the Wind & Sea celebrated its 50th anniversary with a week of special anniversary menu prices.
Mermade Market returned for its 13th market. The unique, nautical-themed, hand-curated marketplace brought hundreds of artisans and small business owners to the Ocean Institute, offering a special opportunity to stock up on holiday shopping items.
Orange County Board Supervisor Katrina Foley kept her seat as the District 5 representative following the Midterm Elections.
Incumbent Laurie Davies won the race for the 74th State Assembly District, and incumbent Mike Levin maintained his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In the State Senate race for the 36th District, Janet Nguyen won the seat, and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear won the race for the 38th State Senate District.
An Orange County court ruled in favor of the city’s request that the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) return public access at the blufftop Nature Trail to pre-pandemic hours until the lawsuits that the city and CNLM filed against each other reach a conclusion.
In an effort to help homeowners through the process of getting their overhead utilities put underground, the Dana Point City Council approved a step-by-step guide from how to form districts to available funding options for undergrounding projects.
The Dana Point Harbor Partners unveiled new renderings and designs for the Dana Point Harbor revitalization project, now estimated to cost $400 million.
Construction on the landside portion of the Dana Point Harbor revitalization is anticipated to begin in 2023—nearly 26 years after the Orange County Board of Supervisors formed a taskforce to begin the effort of updating the now 61-year-old harbor.
After reviewing the appeals related to Dana Point’s short-term rental program governing vacation rentals in the coastal zone, the California Coastal Commission approved the local policy, allowing the city to issue new STR permits for the first time since a 2016 moratorium was imposed.
The Coastal Commission also approved a nature-based adaptation pilot project to shore up the crumbling coastline at Doheny State Beach and Capistrano Beach. The plans look to bury a roughly 1,150-linear-foot cobble berm beneath vegetated sand dunes.
Toll Brothers, the housing construction company, held a public workshop to discuss its proposed 349-unit apartment complex at the Capistrano Unified School District Bus Yard site off Victoria Boulevard and Sepulveda Avenue. The workshop highlighted mixed reactions from community members in attendance.
Dana Point’s 45th annual Turkey Trot saw more than 9,000 runners from 48 states and 13 countries participate.
December kicked off with the annual tree-lighting ceremony at La Plaza Park followed by another tree-lighting ceremony at Pines Park.
The inaugural “Sleigh the Holidays,” an outdoor makers market, offered residents a chance to get shopping done while supporting small and local businesses with more than 100 small businesses along Del Prado.
Dana Point City Council appointed Councilmember Mike Frost to be the next mayor of Dana Point. Councilmember Jamey Federico will serve as mayor pro tem for 2023.
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