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By Hoiyin Ip

Four city council candidates in two districts are running toward Tuesday, Nov. 3: Mike Frost and Gary Newkirk for District 4; Benjamin Bebee and Michael Villar for District 5.

I’ve wondered how much they care about the environment. So I sent them three questions with a request for succinct responses. Here are their answers in alphanumeric order.


What Is Your Most Critical Environmental Issue?

Frost (D4): Keeping our beaches and ocean clean and healthy by reducing plastic, trash and man-made debris in our open spaces, our streets and on our beaches and harbor. Continue to focus on keeping the streets free of trash that will eventually make its way to the ocean.

Newkirk (D4): Dana Point has some of the most beautiful coastal beaches. My critical environmental issue is ensuring water and beach cleanliness, including controlling inland watershed waste runoff. This can only be accomplished through collaboration with local agencies and working toward a common goal.

Bebee (D5): Beach Restoration for Capistrano Beach.

Villar (D5): We need to continue to protect our ocean, coastline, and beaches. Our coastal waters are rich with all sorts of marine life that thrive on our rocky shorelines and kelp forests. The ocean needs protection so the sea life can continue to thrive, and we all can enjoy our beaches.


What Solution for the Issue Will You Champion as a Councilmember?

Frost (D4): Continue to make strides in single-use plastic reductions including bottles, lids and caps, and plastic bags at take-away and retail. Since 2012, we have had ordinances for no Styrofoam in restaurants and no plastic bags at grocers.

Newkirk (D4): The city’s role in protecting our beaches and waters should be to lead and coordinate joint efforts of surrounding cities, county, state and federal agencies to set policies and lobby for funding. Through these efforts, programs can be crafted to achieve coastal protection for Dana Point.

Bebee (D5): I would work toward a Beach Restoration project.

Villar (D5): Dana Point City Council has supported the Marine Protected Areas which protect our shores on a large scale. But an equally important impact comes from us as individuals. We need more coordinated beach cleanup days, efforts to reduce use of plastic, and commitment to reduce pollutants.


Should the City Form an Environmental Committee? Why or Why Not?

Frost (D4): The city already has an Ocean Water Quality Subcommittee that covers environmental issues and makes recommendations on ordinances for the Council to review. While improvements can always be made, our city already has a very well-informed, seasoned staff focused on environmental stewardship.

Newkirk (D4): Dana Point should take the lead in environmental protections with a committee comprised of city leaders and staff, community and business interests to identify issues and problems facing our beaches. With a strong voice, Dana Point can lead efforts at broader levels advocating for these precious resources.

Bebee (D5): If the citizens desire a committee, then one should be organized.

Villar (D5): I support an environmental committee. Environmental sustainability is critically important for a beach community such as ours. We have an obligation to our children to improve the health of our ocean. We need innovative, dynamic, and aggressive ideas to ensure its protection.


Hoiyin Ip is often recognized on the street as the plastic lady for her cleanup work. But she likes to think of herself as a guardian of the ocean. She is often reminded of a quote by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”

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