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Town Center Initiative stifling, Town Center and Public Parking Improvement Initiative key to Town Center Plan success


Guest Opinion: By Carlos N. Olvera, Dana Point City Councilman

In June the residents of Dana Point will be asked to vote on two ballot measures. One will be the “2015 Town Center Initiative,” and the other will be the “2016 Town Center and Public Parking Improvement Measure.” In talking with many of the residents, it is clear there is much confusion regarding these measures. I am writing this op-ed to give my opinion on these two ballot measures and to hopefully give some clarity on what these two measures will do.

The “2015 Town Center Initiative” keeps the status quo, which has stifled new development for more than 25 years. The measure will perpetuate the development of private parking spaces versus public parking. Presently, at the peak period of business and shopping there are over 700 surplus private parking spaces that cannot be used by the public. The Town Center Plan, as approved in 2008, did not include a parking plan but instead deferred to parking regulations as inherited from the county when Dana Point was incorporated—regulations that were never tailored to city needs in any way. The many empty lots throughout Town Center will remain. For a good understanding of the impact approving this ballot measure will have on our city, I recommend reviewing the Town Center Initiative Impact Report, which can be found on the city’s website at For this reason, I am opposing this measure.

The “2016 Town Center and Public Parking Improvement Measure” promotes a pedestrian-friendly environment for shopping, dining, entertainment and a wide range of activities that give meaning and identity to Dana Point’s Town Center, now known as the Lantern District. The city-sponsored ballot measure (initiative) includes the 2008 Town Center Plan that was unanimously approved (without a parking plan) by the City Council after more than 30 public hearings held by a committee of residents, business people and council members, as well as thousands of hours spent by city staff, consultants and the Planning Commission. In addition, this ballot measure includes a public parking plan that will protect the residential neighborhoods and minimize the effects of commercial parking while increasing the number of public parking spaces.

Parking in our city has always been a priority, and this ballot measure offers a common sense solution.

For example, in the Lantern Village north of PCH, there can be permit-only parking, keeping commercial parkers out of the neighborhoods. In the Santa Clara district south of Del Prado, because it is considered in the “Coastal Zone” and subject to the California Coastal Commission, parking cannot be by permit only. Instead, a Parking Benefit District will allow residents to park as they have been, with no restrictions, and any overflow commercial parkers will have to pay for parking. This revenue could be used to help enforce the parking program and the parking laws. Both plans will be adopted on a street-by-street basis but only if more than 50 percent of the residents (or property owners) on the street agree.

The Town Center Plan, allowing for residential units above boutiques and bistro restaurants, provides for a vibrant living experience that benefits the entire city. This will ensure that the charm of our city is protected. For this reason, I support this ballot measure.






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comments (19)

  • Carlos,

    You are suppose to work for the citizens of Dana Point not the developers and hotels. What you are doing is so irresponsible . You are not listening to the people, you obviously have your own agenda and you are shoving it down the throats of the citizens. We can’t wait to remove you from the city council. If you want a traffic ridden city move to Huntington beach.
    Also, please stop with your ridiculous take on city history , that you obviously don’t know, and have no connections with. You seriously make me ill. We will never name a park or a street after you, which is what people like you get off on.

  • “Pedestrian friendly” is another phrase for traffic choked!!

    • Why don’t you go live next to the mall in mission viejo, lots of parking and your kind of lifestyle?

      What’s wrong with older pedestrian oriented mixed use buildings in downtowns such as Laguna, CDM, San Clemente etc? They have practically no parking.

      Bottom line, nobody wants to walk next to empty parking lots and busy highways, read the vision in the town center plan or go look at any nice town centers around the country and pedestrians come first, parking second.

  • Why isn’t everyone asking Councilman Olvera the obvious…if he voted no for the city’s confusing initiative why is he now defending it in this article?
    It was probably determined in advance that Tomlinson, Viscorek and Muller would vote for it which allowed Olvera’s no vote so he’ll look good to the voters during his reelection. Did they think no one would put two and two together?

    But this fact will not be overlooked by many of us who will continue to remind voters of:
    1) his original vote for the Majestic variances which gave birth to the citizens’ initiative
    2) his failure to save historic buildings in Dana Point even though he’s a member of the Orange County Historical Commission
    3) his manipulation of new and existing Planning Commission with members who are developer-friendly and allowing special interests to take over the town

  • Carlos’s utterly deceptive guest opinion deserves a more comprehensive response but I will just hit the high points. He dissembles about the real purpose behind the 2015 Initiative, which is to cap building height at 40 feet and three stories and mandate commercial use on the first floor, instead hiding behind some blather about parking and pie in the sky boutiques.

    The 2015 Initiative is on the ballot because Dana Point residents are fighting back after he and his cronies Bill Brough and Steve Weinberg voted to ignore the Town Center plan and the Planning Commission and approve the Majestic buildings at up to 59 foot in height and four stories, thus putting 109 condos and their residents on 2.2 acres in down town Dana Point with generous parking variances to make the deal sweeter. Sounds like Irvine to me. As mayor he arranged to fire the objecting Planning commissioners and appoint his own hand picked commissioners.

    He also voted to spend $20 million on street improvements for Del Prado and PCH while claiming this road work and street scape expenditure would help create a vibrant commercial district. Instead we are getting a condo district where the developers will only be paying back $0.15 on the dollar spent to improve their property, very little sales tax revenue and very little property tax revenue. How will we ever get our $20 million investment back? We wont.

    Dont we all only wish we had relatives who could give us gifts like this? Remember to thank him at the polls this November.

  • Oh my. Did Carlos get a call from his developer friends after voting against the Measure? “Oops. Didn’t mean to do that, guys, but I’m running for election, and the voters might not like this. OK. I’ll fix it and write an Opinion Piece completely negating my vote!”

    Talk about confusing Dana Point voters. Former Mayor Olvera is an expert at confusion by now. First, he, Brough and Weinberg stop Doheny Village dead in its tracks in 2008 and wrest hard won reserves from the City Treasury to create the Town Center Plan. Fast forward 8 years and we’ve spent over $20 million, and now that same plan is called “stifling” by the guy who pushed it in the first place!

    How dare those uppity citizens get 4,200 signatures from registered voters to force us to comply with our own plan! In Carlos’ world, those citizens would have to be confused, and we, the brilliant City Council, must clear things up for them. His answer — let’s confuse them even further by creating our own Council measure that the City Attorney admits will have NO effect whether it passes or fails. And let’s REALLY confuse them by choosing a name as close as possible to the citizens initiative “the 2016 Town Center” Measure. Oh, and let’s add “Public Parking Improvement” to the name so we can pretend we’re actually improving parking, even though our improvement consists of moving parking costs from the developer to the public! Who cares if parking overflows to residential streets. They can just adopt a Parking District and put meters in front of their houses. And everyone’s going to be walking and biking in Town Center anyways, just like the one person I saw walking in the District on Saturday.

    Yes, Dana Point, this is a taste of your City Council at work for their real constituents — the developers who funded their campaigns. Let’s get smart, vote FOR the Citizens’ Initiative, AGAINST the corrupt Council Initiative in June, and in November, show this irresponsible “confuser in chief” the door.

  • Talk about confusing! I just don’t get the point of this Measure. If City Council is so convinced that the status quo is great for Dana Point, why not just let the initiative go to the ballot and pass or fail on its own merits? Why did Carlos Olvera vote against the measure; then vote yes on the name change, and then write this opinion piece essentially negating his original “no” vote? I don’t think the voters are confused at all, although it’s clear Carlos is. We know exactly what Council is up to and it’s shameful. Take your town back before these guys bring in more high density apartments and condos and trick you into thinking you should pay for the “shared” public parking they neglected to provide.

    • Guess what, there is more fun coming. The Craft House that is almost ready to open found out the old electrical grid won’t support their business. So they will be delayed in opening, and we know time is money. They were initially told it they would have to pay for the upgrade to the grid. This after spending $200k to build their restaurant.
      The city spends $20 million on a project to “make it pretty” and create traffic and haven’t determined if the infrastructure can support such a project in the first place.
      I cant help feeling that this is a developing issue that somehow will cost taxpayers in the long run.


  • In a previous thread I speculated that Mr Olvera pushed the wrong button when voting against the Council sponsored measure. I based that opinion on his prior record, as well as his body language right after the vote. If that is correct, he probably didn’t say anything at the time since the it passed anyway.

    The “2016 Town Center and Public Parking Improvement Measure” is justified because if the initiative passes, mixed-use development will be halted for the foreseeable future, yet DPRRD never mentions that. Instead they are selling their initiative as being for “responsible development”, and an effort to “save” DP.

    I don’t care for the new title though, because while the Council measure will increase public parking supply, it will also increase demand. I would have preferred a more neutral name.

    • Long- Term Resident , what kind of handle is that? Are you living at the Residence Inn in corporate housing . Are you here just until your company rapes and pillages Dana Point?
      Your gloom and doom development outlook doesn’t hold water. Why would they stop, did the developer not ever plan on honoring the building codes? Will they sell the land then move on to buy another city council, in some other unsuspecting beach town.
      Sorry back the the drawing board !!

      • The Keyser Marsten report details how mixed use development under the TCI is uneconomic. You should read their analysis which is on the city website, and educate yourself.

        All 3 of the candidates supported by the so-called “Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development” were defeated last November. You people make a lot of noise, but are apparently the minority.

        • LTR
          You have a way of misconstruing the facts. Here are a few for you to chew on.

          4200 registered voters in a city of 35,000 total population hardly looks like a noisy minority. It is a very significant portion of the people who vote in city elections.

          You like to throw out the jibe that DPRRD “backed” candidates lost so nobody supports them. The fact is that councilman Joe Muller got the least votes of the three elected, out polling 1st runner up Jody Payne by just 65 votes. He out spent her 5 to 1, $40K to $7.5K. Tomlinson outspent her by 6 to 1, although he was mostly self funded. Money spoke in that election. The developer interests in Dana Point should know that in the next election their contributions will be spotlighted and the voters will know who they are trying to put on the city council.

          Many people dont regard Kayser Marsden as the final word on development prospects if the Initiative passes. In my view the city manager got the report he needed to support the
          the kind of anti resident campaign he and the council wanted to run. Not impressed with Kayser Marsden.

          • Long-Term Resident

            I never stated or even implied that since the 3 candidates supported by DPRRD lost, “nobody supports them”. It’s an indication that you guys were a minority of the voters at the time of the last election.

  • As a progressive pro good development advocate, I hope after these ballot measure are over, nice buildings, courtyards and patios can once again be built in our beatiful city and development makes more sense than empty dirt lots and crumbling buildings! For last 2 decades ridiculous underground etc parking requirements kept DP town ctr development at sandstill and no new middle class housing was built. Vote no on town center initiative.

  • We the people, are now realizing we have been duped. Unfortunately the reality is special interests win elections with money and misdirection. Like you for instance, hiding behind your handle rather than being transparent. Why hide? Our motivation is obvious, what yours?
    Over 4000 signatures in a City of 30,000. WE ARE DANA POINT!


  • Dana Pointer and Long-Term Resident seem to be overdoing it on the kool-aid again! Step away from the Council trough before your brains turn orange, boys! Let’s think hard now. Look around at other cities. In fact, look around your OWN City. Do you only see four story high density buildings like the City’s consultants seem to promote? Do you see thriving businesses and apartments with no parking providing. Just look at the recent developments at Del Obispo and the Union Bank property. Do you really think that a requirement for common sense parking would ever keep responsible developers from building in this town? Do you see nothing but 4 story high density developments all over south county?

    If I was a business owner and wanted to open a nice restaurant, I’d look at a property built by a greedy developer under Council’s 2 spaces per 1,000 square feet requirement and say “are you kidding me?” Where are my waiters going to park, let alone my customers? I certainly wouldn’t be relying on people biking or walking to my restaurant — especially in a town where there are NO public parking structures! And if I was wanting to purchase a nice one bedroom seaside retirement condo for me and the wife, she’d have to GIVE UP HER CAR! And what happens when the kids come to visit? NO PARKING AVAILABLE! We are an aging population in Dana Point and America in general. Maybe you and your guests don’t mind running around town looking for a parking spot hidden blocks away, but I don’t. I want to park near the restaurant I’m visiting; I want my wife to keep her car; and I want kids and guests to be able to park when they visit.

    I suspect one of you actually IS a wannabe developer. What happened? Did you buy a property at the height of the market and now you can’t make it pencil financially? Are you trying to reduce parking for all of us so YOUR property makes money? It won’t work. NO one will buy your property without reasonable and accessible parking. Wise up boys. Use your noggins.

  • OK, LTR, maybe YOU”RE the one who has to brush up on mathematics. First, the 4,200 voters only represent those who were asked to sign the Initiative. Once there were more than enough signatures (which didn’t take long, by the way), the effort stopped. Who knows how many people would have signed if everyone had been canvassed.

    And by the way, about 20,000 votes were cast for Council candidates in the 2012 election. That means 21% of the electorate are royally ticked off at this Council. And if everyone was asked, who knows how big that number would be? People are informed and are watching City Hall closely. Between Strandsgate, fishy backroom deals with developers, Council overturning Planning Commission decisions to push through favored projects, Council then firing the whole Planning Commission and replacing them with people who are either inexperienced or real estate developers themselves, close to $30 million raided from reserves in a few short years, and now this ridiculous measure — I could go on and on. And this doesn’t even contemplate the slimy deals going on in all those closed sessions that are racking up outrageous legal bills! This Council is out of control and Dana Point is waking up. You’re backing the wrong team, LTR! Support your fellow citizens and get these incompetent boobs out of City Hall before they sell the whole town to the highest bidder to justify their bad decisions.

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