In spite of locals’ concerns, City Council opts to dispose of land once considered for park use

By Andrea Papagianis

In their first regular meeting since July, the Dana Point City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with the sale of unused land in Capistrano Beach, despite concerns raised by residents during a public hearing.

The 3.2-acre parcels of land, located at 26351 and 26315 Via Canon, were purchased for $1.9 million by the Capo Bay Parks and Recreation District in 1992, with an intended park usage. The land was acquired by the city when it merged with the district in 1993. Over the last 20 years, the properties have not been used or developed as park grounds, city documents said, allowing the city to dispose of the land under the Municipal Park Abandonment Law.

While the city has not made use of the grounds as a park, three local residents spoke out against the proposed sale saying, unofficially, the open land was used as such for decades.

Donna Dyke, of Capistrano Beach, called the property sensitive and one of the town’s last untouched spots with a view. She asked the council to reconsider and said not enough notice was given to residents that they would not get their park. The sentiment was echoed by Bryan Noakes and Carl Iverson who questioned what would happen to the land once sold.

“I am concerned about what could happen to the neighborhood,” Iverson said. “The Palisades is a real gem … Don’t sell it. Just don’t sell it, you are selling part of yourself.”

City Manager Doug Chotkevys said the property had been vetted for a park years before, but due to topography issues and high development costs it was deemed unfit for a park.

According to city documents, the site was determined inappropriate for a park because of geographical issues, historic erosion damage, security concerns, significant costs of improvement and limited vehicular and pedestrian access. As such, the land was not listed as a potential park site in the city’s Master Plan.

Iverson called on the City Council to postpone a decision and give it more thought, something Chotkevys said could be given as talks with potential buyers and developers progressed.

On July 30, the council approved initial measures to sell the land and staff informed multiple parties of the land’s availability, including park and low-income housing developers, said Community Development Director Ursula Luna-Reynosa. Four proposals were presented to the council during a closed session.

Chotkevys said moving forward, after further negotiations take place, proposals will be presented to the community. He added, development will be a “very transparent process.”

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