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Five-member board will welcome new leader at tonight’s meeting
By Andrea Papagianis
Tonight, the City Council will hold its annual reorganization, selecting a new mayor and mayor pro tem to serve Dana Point in 2014.
Each year, the five-member body shakes up its form by voting two council members to formally lead official proceedings and to act as figurehead representatives at city functions.
The body’s current leader, Steven Weinberg, served as mayor pro tem before being nominated and elected by his colleagues as mayor, in 2009 and 2012. Weinberg was elected by voters in 2006.
Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Bartlett served under her current title in 2007 and 2008 and was selected as mayor in 2009. Councilman Scott Schoeffel served as mayor pro tem in 2009, under Bartlett, before taking on the role of mayor in 2010. The board’s two newest members, councilmen Bill Brough and Carlos Olvera, elected in 2010 and 2012 respectively, have yet to serve in either capacity.
City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Council Chambers, 33282 Golden Lantern.
Also on the agenda:
Via Canon Land—After a unanimous September vote to move forward with the sale of two vacant Capistrano Beach parcels, the City Council could finalize an agreement with the nonprofit Charitable Light Foundation for the 3.2 acres.
Four buyers, including three housing developers, expressed interest in the properties at 26351 and 26315 Via Canon at a November meeting. The council voted 3-2, with Brough and Olvera dissenting to negotiate, a $3.75-million cash offer with the Capo Beach-based organization.
Olvera said he wanted to see the land vetted for park use, while Brough expressed interest in offers providing more financial gain.
The land was acquired by the city in 1993 after its merger with the Capo Bay Parks and Recreation District. Initially, the land was purchased for park use but has sat vacant since 1998 when two houses on the property were demolished.
The properties were never rezoned to reflect open-space or park usage and no improvements were made to make it such, city staff said. But nearby residents have utilized the land as a park for years, and asked the city to reconsider the land’s sale at multiple meetings.
Charitable Light owns two adjacent properties. The foundation’s director Craig Stirling has said his organization’s intent is to protect the land, clean it up and create a prayer garden for residents to visit. The organization’s offer asks the city to execute a deed restriction, permanently limiting development on the land to just six housing units. Current zoning would allow for 42 units.
TBID—The city’s governing body will consider renewing the Dana Point Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) for another year and a contract with the Anaheim-based Agency 51 for marketing services.
The district is a partnership between the city and its four major hotels—Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, St. Regis Monarch Beach, Laguna Cliffs Marriott and Doubletree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach—formed in 2009 to market Dana Point as an overnight tourism destination.
The district finances marketing campaigns through a self-imposed, $3-per-night room assessment, which helped bring the Elephant Parade art exhibit to town this year.
Dana Point’s economy is linked to hotel success, as tourism related spending provides for about 50 percent of the city’s tax revenue. Revenues are generated through sales, property and the 10-percent bed tax, known as the transient occupancy tax, according to a staff report.
The city collected an estimated $10.2 million in TOT last fiscal year, which ended in June, up about $700,000 from the year prior. TOT is the city’s largest source of revenue. With approximately 1,750 employees, hotels are also the city’s largest employer, the report said.
There is no cost associated with the city’s renewal. All marketing expenditures come from the TBID assessment account.
Town Center—The council could award a construction contract for the first phase of Town Center street improvements, estimated to cost $6.5 million by city staff.
Work will include street construction to make Pacific Coast Highway a two-way road, create bus pullouts, add medians and change landscaping. Crews will also do street-level work along the northern end of Del Prado Avenue, where it splits from PCH.
Construction is expected to begin early next year when the South Coast Water District completes its work on underground utilities.
City staff is recommending the council award a contract to Los Angeles Engineering, Inc. for $6.47 million. The company, who has completed other city projects, was one of five to submit a Town Center construction bid. The city will provide surveying and materials services to the chosen contractor, reducing costs, according to a staff report.
In May, the council set aside $9.2 million for the first phase of construction. With this contract, $7.7 million of the allotment will be used, for construction, surveying, testing and community outreach. The money needed to complete the full project along Del Prado has not yet been identified.
This leaves $1.5 million to reimburse the SCWD for storm drainage work, historic lantern street signs, historic markers and directional signage, the report said.
The council will also consider rebranding the Town Center retail and commercial district as the “Lantern District.” A rebranding could mean a reworking of the district’s retrofitted entryway signage at Copper Lantern.