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The battle of Measure H and Measure I consumed the streets of Dana Point for weeks ahead of Tuesday’s election. Photo:Matt Cortina
The battle of Measure H and Measure I consumed the streets of Dana Point for weeks ahead of Tuesday’s election. Photo:Matt Cortina

By Kristina Pritchett

In a heated election with two competing ballot measures going before voters, it was Measure H that ultimately secured the most votes during the primary election Tuesday, June 7.

According to unofficial results as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 59.1 percent (4,864) of voters were in favor of Measure H, the  citizen-led “2015 Town Center Initiative,” while 40.9 percent (3,363) of voters opposed to the measure.

Measure I—the City Council-sponsored “Town Center and Public Parking Improvement Measure”—brought in 41.1 percent (3,379) of votes in favor, and 58.9 percent (4,834) opposed to it.

To win, a measure needed to secure 50 percent of the votes plus one. If they had both received more than 50 percent, the measure with the highest number of votes would’ve won.

Dana Point City Clerk Kathy Ward could not confirm when the official results would be released, but both sides seem to have come to terms with the results already.

“The people of Dana Point voted to protect Dana Point’s charming village atmosphere while promoting responsible growth and redevelopment program in our downtown area,” Betty Hill, president of Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development said.

Dana Point Mayor John Tomlinson said he does not agree with Measure H for a couple of reasons.

“Personally, I still do not agree with Measure H because I believe that it will hamper development by severely restricting responsible planning and mixed-use development within the Lantern District,” Tomlinson wrote in a statement to the Dana Point Times.

Tomlinson stated an independent fiscal analysis indicated the city will lose about $673,000 annually in the general fund revenue under Measure H.

“That said and more important, I respect the will of the voters,” Tomlinson stated. “The voters who elected me in the last election have spoken and I will abide by their decision.”

He added once the Orange County Registrar has certified the election, he will work with the Council and city staff to “process the necessary Local Coastal Plan Amendment (LCPA) with the California Coastal Commission.”

He said that LCPAs do not happen overnight, and asks for residents to be patient with the process.

“Finally this issue has been very divisive, with accusations of bullying and disrespectful behavior to others. As neighbors, we need to work together to put the past six months behind us and to come together as a community to continue to make Dana Point the special place that we have all become proud to call home,” Tomlinson said.

Harold Kaufman, a Dana Point resident who was in favor of Measure I, said he also did not agree with the results.

“I am disheartened at the lack of vision of the voters who believed the hype and rhetoric of Measure H,” Kaufman said.


The Town Center Plan has had a long road with the city, starting back in 2004 when the city began talks of developing the area now known as the Lantern District.

The city began a planning process, which included receiving input from its residents, and creating a 15-member panel called the Town Center Subcommittee. There were more than 30 meetings to discuss ideas and design concepts.

In June 2005, the city adopted 10 key principles to use going forward with the Town Center development. The plan discussed parking and stated the Council would “acquire land in the Town Center for a centralized parking facility(ies) funded by fees from new building construction and located in a parking district.” It also laid out the city would, at least, create an off-street parking district, and create opportunities for shared parking. It required developers to provide parking according to existing city code and allowed developers to create off-site parking to meet their parking requirements or pay to offset costs of creating their required spaces elsewhere.

The plan also stated building heights could not exceed 40 feet and three stories, measured from the level of the sidewalk at the midpoint of the front property line.

This ordinance was passed in 2008, and received approval from the California Coastal Commission. With the economy not in the best shape, nothing happened with Town Center.

In July 2014, a developer group called Majestic Partners submitted plans for a mixed-use building calling for construction of 30,000 square feet of retail space and 111 residential units to be built on seven non-contiguous lots in the Lantern District.

The Planning Commission voted two in favor and two against the project, which means the plans did not pass. Majestic then appealed to the City Council, which approved their plans in a 3-1 vote.

The project was later acquired by the group Raintree Partners, and development plans changed slightly; it included 32,500 square feet of retail space and 109 residential units.

In 2015, the Council voted to amend the Town Center plan, which changed the name of the plan to the Lantern District Plan, amended the parking regulations for new development and included the allowance of non-residential projects to pay fees in lieu of providing parking spots.

Citizens filed a petition to put a measure, known as Measure H, on the ballot that would revert many of the changes that the City Council amended. In February 2016, the Council voted to put a vying measure on the ballot, known as Measure I.

With Measure H, Any aggrieved person or Dana Point registered voter shall have the right to maintain an action for equitable relief to restrain any violation of this Act, or City failure to enforce the duties imposed on it by this Act.”

Also with Measure H, any zoning changes would have to go to a vote of Dana Point residents as well as be approved by the Coastal Commission.


United States Representative 49th District

Incumbent Darrell Issa (R) received 57.5 percent (16,498) of the votes
Doug Applegate (D) received 38.6 percent (16,498) of the votes
Ryan Glenn Wingo received 3.8 percent (1,099) of the votes

Ballot Measure A: Establish county ethics commission to enforce county campaign finance and ethics rules

The measure amends the county charter, and authorizes the board to establish a campaign finance and ethics commission. The measure adds the Finance and Ethics Commission Ordinance, which establishes a five-member commission to provide administrative oversight to the Orange County Campaign Reform Ordinance and the county ordinances regulating lobbyists, gifts and certain provisions of the County Code of Ethics.

The measure also establishes a hearing process for alleged violations, and provides for an appointment of an executive director to the commission who would investigate the alleged violations.

Orange County residents voted 70 percent (281,205) in favor of the measure, and 30 percent (120,759) of voters opposed to it.

Ballot Measure B: Require fiscal impact statement for any countywide measure placed on the ballot

The measure amends the county’s charter to require the auditor-controller to review any countywide measure placed on the ballot, and prepare a fiscal statement. This applies to both the county voter initiatives as well as measures placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors. The statement must estimate the amount, if any, of any increase or decrease in revenues or costs to the county and any applicable funding source, or funding mechanism, if the proposed measure is adopted.

Orange County residents voted 85.9 percent (352,627) in favor of the measure, and 14.1 percent (58,001) of voters opposed to it.

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comments (35)

  • Very disappointed with the result of the election. I’ll hope for the best, but my gut feeling is that this will set Dana Point back for many years and it won’t ever live up to its full potential. I hope I’m wrong and development continues to progress because I’m sick of having to go to other cities to get to cool, fun, walkable areas. We’ll see!

    • This town, any town on the coast in Orange County, will do well. It has a chance now to develop responsibly and sustainably.

  • How does the voter turnout for this election compare to past elections? Just generally curious.

    • I do not know and was curious when I read your question. Seems like DP turnout this election was very high. I went on the website, which is the Orange County Registrar of Voters website. There is a page “Election Results Archives”. I chose 2014 and 6/3/2014 Statewide Primary Election thinking it is the closest circumstances to Tuesday’s primary vote. The data is for Orange County Statewide Direct Primary Election, June 3, 2014 Official Election Nigh Results. If I am reading the data correctly, it appears total ballots cast was 24.1% of total registered voters. Total Registered Voters was 1,411,232. 99,397 or 7.0% were precinct ballots case and 240,790 or 17.1% were vote-by-mail ballots cast for a total of 24.1% The page breaks it down by parties. Here is the site where I got this data.

  • About time the residents took our beautiful city back from irresponsible elected city officials catering to developers needs and not the residents, make that a second win for our residents of Dana Point, first the Open gates at Strands Beach and the passing of measure H.

  • Concerned and disheartened citizen Reply

    I hope I’m wrong and that this didn’t set us back to 2004! We hope that Dana point will continue to grow and move forward after all of the time and money that’s been wasted. It’s sad, that we couldn’t look at the big picture. The future of a thriving town center had to be compromised in order to hurt the city council and we actually hurt ourselves. All because we didn’t agree with everything and couldn’t come together to move things forward. I actually read that someone actually thought the empty lots were part of our city’s charm! That’s probably one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever read! Astonishing shaking my head in disbelief, who would want to visit a rundown vacant downtown? No one to support the businesses nearby, never reaching their potential, they should be FULL of people supporting them. Won’t happen if tenants are afraid of failure, no one on the streets, not creating jobs. A town needs actual people living there in order to thrive. Sad that we have to leave our city to shop, dine, and enjoy a walkable thriving downtown instead of increasing our own revenue. With our gorgeous resorts and the strand nearby we don’t have an upscale town that reflects it. I guess that it’s back to status quo, hmm we also missed out on building a beautiful hotel to take the place of the abandoned marina inn motel instead of generating revenue and building an upscale hotel to take its place. Looks like everyone enjoys a vacant eyesore with drugs, theft, and vagrants living there. That’s much better, looks like we did it again, way to go!

    • With all due respect, you’re not only “concerned and disheartened” but woefully misinformed. Please READ the material at Measure H has always been pro development – responsible development with adequate and convenient parking. Residents needs should be considered in any urban planning. It was not ok with Dana Point residents to give a developer carte blanche and huge financial discounts to develop a huge residential structure with insufficient parking, allowing that to spill over into already crowded residential streets. I agree, the Council should have listened to the voices raised in opposition early on. A different, less arrogant bunch would have met with them and ironed out a solution that everyone could live with. Instead, they ignored, pushed back, and went to the unbelievably corrupt level of creating a sham Measure and pretending that it was done to “avoid confusion”. Everyone could clearly see through the smoke screen and that was clear with the election results, despite thousands of dollars Measure I special interests spent on robo calls and glossy brochures full of hyperbole and blatant untruths.

    • You are correct about the eyesore at the mouth of the harbor. The city should hold the owner responsible for maintaining the property. He should be required to keep it free of litter and weeds. He should be forced to secure the property to deter the homeless. The developer bought a small, operating, tax-paying hotel and then closed it. It mysteriously caught fire shortly afterward while he sought unreasonable variances. He created the attractive nuisance you speak of. He should be compelled to maintain it or sell it to a responsible developer.

  • Longtime resident Reply

    Everyone should be happy after we’ve made it nearly impossible for anything to get built, that’ll do great things for our town and for our home values! Really something to celebrate a ghost town!

    • Does this mean you’re going to give up the option on your lot and leave town Bob? Hope so!

    • Long-Time Resident Reply

      Look at the bright side.

      If we enter a recession in the next few years like the one that started in Dec, 2007, there will be lots of good values. No pun intended.

  • “With the economy not in the best of shape, nothing happened with Town Center.”

    This statement is misleading and ignores the taxpayer-funded street improvements, plus the rerouting of traffic and associated utilities that were implemented as scheduled and budgeted in the Town Center Plan. That was a time-consuming process involving multiple levels of government. This publication itself lauded the implemented improvements and their timely completion over and over as the necessary first step of the Town Center Plan. Since then several new businesses have opened and others have remodeled and are now thriving within the district. Not to mention there has been huge initial successes with the car show and art walk.

    It was clearly obvious developers were sensibly waiting for the completion of the street improvements prior to initiating any demolition of existing structures or site improvements. This article should not have tried to imply the “all the vacant lots” scare tactic being used by measure-I supporters has any merit.

  • I find it interesting that those who have replied to this article, that were for Measure I
    won’t post their names.

    • Maureen O'Mara Stevens Reply

      My thoughts exactly. What cowardice to post in a public forum and not put your name to your words. Just more misinformation from people without the guts to post their name.

  • “I am disheartened at the lack of vision of the voters who believed the hype and rhetoric of Measure H,” Kaufman said
    Since Dana Point incorporated in 1989 & long before , there have been visions of what Dana Point should become. From DP Chamber members and City sponsored Business & Traffic Task Force accumulating information from residents & business owners which I was both & participated in forwarding the studies to our City Council the residents always came first. When the city hired a design company & they presented their vision of two story buildings with parking everyone was behind it. I recall people wanted a combination of cape cod & Spanish design showing the City’s heritage. Residents wanted businesses that they could patronize that provided merchandise they could purchase without having to travel thus plugging up the dollars leaking to other cities. It seems that vision was lost when outside developers bought up property with their vision of what was good for them & not all of the residents of Dana Point.

  • Mayor John Tomlinson is quoted in this article as follows:
    “Tomlinson stated an independent fiscal analysis indicated the city will lose about $673,000 annually in the general fund revenue under Measure H.”
    He throws $673,000 per year out as if it was a real number and relevant to the moment. It is not.
    $673,000 is the projected total annual revenue from sales tax and property tax estimated to be generated by the Lantern District at full build out. Full build out was always expected to be 10 to 20 years in the future. Given that context, the Mayor is not factually accurate in his statement to the DP Times.

    • Long-Time Resident Reply

      There would have also been 1 time fees of from $4.2m – $4.7m.

      Using 10, 20, and 30 year build-outs, the average yearly revenue over the 60 year lifespan of the LD improvements would have been about $697K/yr, $641K/yr, and $585K/yr, respectively.

      However, there will be some development under H (e.g., Bevmo), so the actual loss will be less.

    • Long-Time Resident2 Reply

      Let’s be clear about what these annual projection numbers really mean. Nothing. They are a pointless canard.

      1) The city is not LOSING revenue. These are not funds that are in the city’s accounts that are being lost. There is no guarantee that those future revenues would materialize. It is just as possible that the future revenues would be higher. Those revenues are not real; just possible.

      2) They are projections FAR into the future based on possible economic circumstances, none of which is knowable with enough certainty to talk about them as LOST revenue.

      3) These numbers attempt to project the POSSIBLE FUTURE OPPORTUNITY COSTS of two different situations. Opportunity costs are quite different from actual lost revenue.

      4) A tiny change in the near term of any of a number of factors could produce wildly different outcomes up or down, including: the overall consumer economy, property values, bed taxes, travel spending by tourists, the list goes on.

      For a city with annual income of roughly $30 million per year, these pointless projections of roughly $500k constitute roughly 1.5%… that clearly falls in the realm of “margin of error.”

      • Very well said. A city, every entity, has to plan, project, hope and adjust plans to meet targets. You can’t drink your own Kool Aid though. If “Doing A=Result B” was simply formulaic, we’d all be billionsires. In 30 seconds, how many things both good and bad have occurred that no one saw coming? Sometimes, years after they happened, it’s still not always clear what has actually occurred.

        • No one is going to take anything you say seriously if you are not willing to put your name to these posts. My guess is your are either a councilman, city employee or a developer.

          • Rudy HASSEN (Just for you!)

            Did you even read what I wrote? I guess I was totally unclear. I was agreeing with the person who was commenting on the folly of the Yes on I projections. If that was;t their point, they lost me. Not that that’s hard to do. Doesn’t matter. It’s all just venting and discussion at this point. As far was my name. That is my name. There are a lot of reasons not to use full names on the internet. I understand the skepticism though. Unless you’re going to stop by for coffee or send me a Christmas present, I don’t why you would need that. I voted yes on H and no on I and believe me, it wasn’t easy to wade through the trash talk to figure out what was going on. Why get so personal?

          • Thank you for your reply.

  • Long-Time Resident Reply

    Mr Tomlinson stated, “the city WILL lose about $673,000” under H, so obviously he’s referring to lost opportunity costs, not present income. Yes they are ballpark estimates (the millions in 1-time fees less so), but they represent the difference between 2 scenarios, I vs H. Changes to the economy would affect both outcomes, but the difference in revenue wouldn’t switch signs (positive vs negative).

    If anything, KM’s estimated increased revenue numbers under I are understated because they don’t take into account property value and property tax increases that would have occurred in non-LD areas. Land values in the LD will drop also, and probably already have. Offsetting these factors somewhat is the little but delayed development under H that will occur in the LD (stated previously), as well as an increase in expenditures that would have occurred under I.

    For myself, it will be easier to make substantial profits under H than I.

    • Hard to believe that last statement, LTR. It’s pretty clear you have an interest in a Lantern Distict property. The way you went to the mat to promote the high density, inadequate parking standards of I, I’d say you’ve been crying in your beer for a few days now. Give it up, man! It’s over.

  • Long-Time Resident Reply

    Incorrect, I own no interest in any LD property.

    BTW, you never answered my question in the thread, “Letter: Yes on H; I Has Inadequate Parking”, as to what page in the 2015 CAFR shows a $30m reduction in “total governmental funds”.

    • Re the $30 million reduction; it took place from 2008 to 2016. The City’s total funds number for 2008 was $55,011,000. The budgeted total funds number for 2016 is $25,600,000. There has been a steady erosion since 2008 in total funds and that is tied to continued budget deficits in the following years, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and projected for 2016 $1,100,000. 2010 was not a deficit year but had a unique transaction that clouds the picture for that year. 2014 would have been a deficit except for $3.5 million from a one time sale of city property. The proceeds from that land sale were immediately plowed back into the $20 million Lantern District infrastructure project.

      • Long-Time Resident Reply

        Thanks, that more or less explains it.

        I see where you got the $55.01m figure from the “Fund Balances of Governmental Funds” field in the FY 2008 CAFR. However, the exact same field in the FY 2015 CAFR (pg 22) shows $33.234m. So are you excluding components to make an apples to apples comparison?

        Also I briefly skimmed the 291 pg “Operating Budget & Capital Improvement Program”, and couldn’t find where you got a $1.1m projected budget deficit for 2016. I see a projected $1.091m surplus on pg 33. Maybe you’re looking at more recent figures.

        • Look at the last city council agenda. The 3/31/16 financial report with projections for fiscal year end June 30 tells the sad story. We’re out of money. .

    • I stand corrected. I heard you had an option to buy a significant vacant lot. Perhaps that’s not “an interest” technically, but sure seems it would make you an “interested party. “. Page 79 of the 2015 CAFR shows total governmental funds over the last ten years. You have to add the two sub totals to get total funds which tie into the balance sheets. The projected figures for June 2016 can be extrapolated from numbers and verbiage in the March 31 financial report but they don’t make it easy for you. The most significant number is $2.5 million unassigned funds. That’s all that’s left since the Lantern District emptied our pockets.

      • Long-Time Resident Reply

        I don’t have an option to buy anything in the LD either. Any call option on an LD lot would be pretty worthless at this point. I stated I could make more $ under H than I, not the other way around. If the Coastal Comm makes substantive changes and another vote on H is required, and if we’re in a severe 2008-2009 type recession at that point, it’s possible H wouldn’t pass a 2nd time, but that’s a lot of ifs.

        I skimmed the 3-31-16 report you mentioned, but didn’t get much out of it. Will probably wait until the 2016 CAFR comes out.

  • Yet more evidence of the succeeding 2008 Town Center Plan & measure H …another new business has just now opened in Dana Point. Congratulations & good luck to Coastal Kitchen!

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