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A portion of the Majestic project is shown here at Amber Lantern and Del Prado Avenue. Photo: Andrea Swayne
A portion of the Majestic project is shown here at Amber Lantern and Del Prado Avenue. Photo: Andrea Swayne

By Andrea Swayne

The Dana Point City Council voted Tuesday to approve the mixed-use project proposed by Majestic Housing and Development for the city’s Town Center/Lantern District area, overturning a previous Planning Commission decision.

Majestic had filed an appeal to the City Council following the Planning Commission’s 2-2 vote—with Commissioner Liz Claus recused—on Oct. 6, which constituted a denial.

In a 3-1 vote, Mayor Pro Tem Steven Weinberg and Councilmen Carlos Olvera and Bill Brough gave the plan the nod with a couple of added conditions—a requirement that the plan’s covenants, conditions and restrictions include a ban on vacation rentals and that the applicant must pay the city in lieu parking fees before applying for a certificate of occupancy. The latter was added in order that the city would have the ability to “endeavor to” identify and fund additional necessary parking spaces ahead of the influx of added need.

Mayor Lisa Bartlett voted “no” based on lingering concerns over parking, she said.

Councilman Scott Schoeffel was not present. Mayor Bartlett noted that his absence was excused due to being away serving in an official capacity with the Transportation Corridor Agency in New York.

Since the project was first introduced in July, concerns raised by the public and planning commissioner had centered mainly on the developer’s requested variances, massing and issues related to parking.

On Tuesday, 27 members of the public spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, the overwhelming majority against the plan. More than a dozen mentioned parking as their major concern. Their fears, they said, stem from a current lack of parking in the area—spillover onto residential streets, especially on the weekends—and the unforeseen effect the addition of new residents and visitors will bring once the project is complete.

Resident Richard Curtis commended Majestic for responding to aesthetic concerns raised during past study sessions and hearings but was among the speakers criticizing the project’s parking component. Two of what he called “fatal flaws” are the in lieu parking fees and the Nelson Nygaard draft parking plan used in the evaluation of the project.

“What good does paying an in lieu fee for parking to the city for parking spaces when they don’t exist,” he said.

Curtis went on to say he found the Nelson Nygaard plan findings of ample open spaces irrelevant, due largely to sample parking studies being done on a Tuesday night.

“Most restaurants here have Taco Tuesday,” Curtis said. “Why? Because without it, it would be the deadest night of the week.”

Rick Morgan also expressed his disappointment with Majestic’s proposal, contrasting it with that of another developer, Capital Hall Partners, for a mixed-use project at Del Obispo Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway which is asking for no variances.

“I find tonight’s appeal—forgive the pun—the height of arrogance,” Morgan said. “I simply don’t understand why developers feel it necessary to simply ignore our rules here in Dana Point, especially when they know what the rules are in the first place …”

Three people spoke in favor of the plan’s approval, including a Building Industry Association representative, a representative speaking on behalf of the owners of the Lantern Bay Village Center and resident Carol Reimer who expressed frustration with having to travel outside of Dana Point for shopping.

Please do not toss this project,” Reimer said. “It’s wonderful and I think it should be approved.”

In its final iteration, the plan calls for 109 residential units and 32,500 square feet of retail space on seven lots, to be built in three phases.

The plan includes two variance requests. One, that the applicant be allowed to pay for 26 in lieu parking spaces amounting to $390,000 and a second that will allow portions of the plan, not fronting Pacific Coast Highway or Del Prado Avenue, to include four-story residential structures, which fall within the 40-foot maximum allowed in the Town Center Specific Plan. The TCSP, as written, allows a 40-foot maximum and three stories.

Other special considerations, to be granted via site development and conditional use permits will allow elevator towers and guard rails for roof decks to extend 42 inches above the 40-foot height maximum and a shared arrangement between retail and guest parking spaces.


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comments (9)

  • Your article doesn’t mention that there was a large majority of people speaking AGAINST this project and requesting that the parking issues be resolved prior to the council approval.

  • Envision the clock tower building in La Plaza in the 32,500 sq feet of space. Will any of the condos be disignated for Seniors?

    • It was interesting to see the council was unanimously in favor of the project including all variances asked for. I saw all found lots of grey area for interpretation. The Mayor spoke for 10 minutes straight about her positive feelings on the project and how she wholeheartedly approved. There was about to be a motion to vote when she brought up parking very similar to how the other council members addressed it. Interesting how the wind changed just before she cast her vote.
      To answer Dan’s question above, all condos are available to purchase to the public with none being designated to senior or low income specifications.. Average price for the 2 bedrooms were estimated at $600,000.00

    • . . .And a cookie cutter style building -with no ‘Beach Town ‘feel at all. These planners and city politicians don’t get that “hodgepodge” is what gives a town character style and a sense of uniqueness. Now we’re heading toward Irvine-dom. Toursists remember charm and style, not shopping at a modern mall/condo complex in a unibuilding stucco complex. Dana Point is on it’s way to being one big giant mall – Harbor included. Thank the hotels, our chamber of commerce and whoever else is greedy for the almighty dollar. Dana Point is SOLD to the Bully with the big wallet. I feel for the folks who worked hard on the DPTCP. So sorry. Oh . .and the folks from Granada west . . .prepare to have your view blighted by the mall/condo mass.

  • Hodge/Podge? I couldn’t believe it when I heard it by the mayor.

    Looks like instead of a personal hodge/podge urban revitilization of Town Center we’re going to get ‘Irvine’, or perhaps ‘Talega’ from PCH to Del Prado/Selva to the freeway in South Orange County. It sure won’t be Dana Point.

    Personalization, the mix of architects and different perspectives on design work. Having a giant ‘Mixed Use’ project by one developer and then bending over for that developer is just plain poor city management and vision.

  • Unbelievable! What kind of Morons are running this city. Dana Point will never be the same!!!You can bet those who voted to go though with this plan will never get our votes again!

  • The variances identified in this article are not what Betty Hill and her group have been telling the community. When can we get the facts straight?

  • Three people spoke in favor of the plan’s approval, including a Building Industry Association representative,(of course) a representative speaking on behalf of the owners of the Lantern Bay Village Center. I live in the Lantern Bay Village and have for over fifty-five years and I was never approached or asked an opinion.
    Resident Carol Reimer who expressed frustration with having to travel outside of Dana Point for shopping. Anyone curious what shes shopping for?

    Give me a break. this sounds like the same baloney comments given to the city council when a car wash was proposed for the lot where the now Coast Marketplace is. Developers bought people to the meetings who lived in Newport beach commented that they would be happy to travel to Dana Point to have their car washed. Plus postcards were mailed out to addresses four to five blocks away from the residents in proximity of the project offering free car washes in exchange for favorable support of the project. Almost worked until postcards were mailed indicating that the council at the time were all in favor of the project. Dumb move.

    What are the products that Carol Reimer cannot find in Dana Point which brings on this frustration? How can she be certain that ANY of the new businesses will carry the products she can’t find which causes her frustration?
    I’m sure can find whatever I require within the city.
    Perhaps Carol Reimer frustration comes from not being able to find parking in Dana Point.
    Well get used to it cause your council just made that problem worse as has the Coast Marketplace and the Fred Pardes Law offices at 34211 PCH who make their employees park all day in the residential area of Malaga Dr. Alcazar and Silver Lantern.

  • I am beyond sad to see this get approved. While revitalization is key and necessary to a thriving economy, THIS is not the way that will happen. I’m a young tax-paying home owner in DP and obviously, my voice doesn’t matter. Yes, I attended the meetings and yes, I spoke up and voiced my concerns about the aesthetics of this development. None of the board members (maybe one!) have obviously been to any walkable areas where restaurants & shops are booming. They must spend a lot of their time at places like the Spectrum & Aliso Viejo. I can’t wait to eat at another California Pizza Kitchen & shop at another Bed, Bath & Beyond *insert sarcasm here*! A quick trip to Venice, Del Mar or even San Clemente or Laguna (!) would quickly key you in to what people really want. Keep those cool old buildings — gut ’em and freshen ’em up, build smaller transitional new buildings, incentivize business owners to come to DP, get rid of the plethora of massage parlors & dry cleaners. No more stucco, tan and flagstone, please! PS – Divel, you have our vote, and yes we skate!

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