Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

As local leaders of Capistrano Beach seek to improve and rebrand Doheny Village with updated zoning and building codes and more public art, Larry Robinson has turned his idea for a community space into fruition.

The Fish Tank, a warehouse converted into a creative, art gallery-style space, held a soft launch on Saturday, Oct. 19 as a way to introduce itself to Dana Point. Robinson says it’s been a five-year process, but it’s all come together, thanks to the collaboration of local artists and artisans.

The launch comes as the Doheny Village Working Group (DVWG) is gearing up to present suggestions on how to improve the village area’s parking, zoning and development standards to Dana Point City Council.

The city’s comprehensive planning efforts for Doheny Village have been in the works since 2010. The DVWG meets once a month and is comprised of the Doheny Village Merchants’ Association (DVMA), a group that formed in late 2016 to address concerns with a proposal on parking, zoning and development standards for the Village. Residents, business and property owners, as well as city officials, attend the meetings.

The Fish Tank’s launch featured artwork and creativity by local artists including Tom Clark and Ron Whitworth of Whitworth Design, as well as visiting artists including Poncho and the band Daring Greatly, from Calgary, Alberta.

“The way we were able to pull this off really speaks to the mission and purpose of the Fish Tank,” Robinson said. “Everyone used their own respective skills to collaborate, and that’s really what I would like to see for the Fish Tank—people coming together and having a discussion to get things done.”

Robinson, of Fallbrook, has been a contractor in the Capistrano Beach area for 32 years. He’s a member of the Doheny Village Merchants’ Association and attends the Doheny Village Working Group meetings to configure ways to update city code for Capistrano Beach.

Robinson says he wants to create a “cultural anchor” by offering events like “Tank Talks” (similar to Ted Talks educational discussions), gallery installations, music shows and classes.

Larry Robinson introduced the ‘Fish Tank’ warehouse to the community this month. Photo: Lillian Boyd

“The future is full of possibilities,” Robinson said. “We want people to come forward with ideas for events, but those events have to stick with the themes of community, creativity and collaboration.”

Toni Nelson, co-founder of the grassroots group Capo Cares, says this kind of space is a vital asset for the Capistrano Beach community.

“A space like Fish Tank is a perfect opportunity to bring people together, get conversations going about how we can improve the community and fine-tune the vision we have for Capistrano Beach,” Nelson said.

Dana Point Senior Planner Belinda Deines has overseen meetings for the DVWG and gathered input from the community. Robinson says her leadership in the process has been integral in Doheny Village’s progress. She was also in attendance at the Fish Tank’s launch in support of Robinson’s vision.

“It’s really great to see people in Doheny Village take initiative in caring for their community,” said Deines. “Larry has been involved in the ongoing discussions on how to build a better Doheny Village, and we see his ideas come to fruition at this event.”

Robinson says he welcomes input and ideas for future events at the Fish Tank. Fish Tank is located at 34233 Via Santa Rosa, Capistrano Beach. The warehouse’s website fishtankcapo.com is in the works, but Robinson can be reached at larry@barrettrobinson.com.

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