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By Mayor Debra Lewis
This city faces serious issues that cannot be allowed to become intractable problems. Our challenges are real. Together, we will be asked to make tough choices in the months and years ahead.
For instance, by 2020, operating expenses are projected to exceed operating revenue by $1,648,000. Plugging this large structural budget hole merely allows the city to do little more than tread water, ending fiscal year 2020 with neither an operating deficit nor surplus. This means we will not accumulate savings for those projects we want to undertake. After 2020, many more hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual shortfalls are expected.
Another challenge we face is maintaining Dana Point’s superior quality of life. Many residents express anxiety about their neighborhoods. Safety is becoming an issue. Petty crime appears to be on the rise.
Growth is always tricky. We want to develop areas in the city such as the Lantern District and Doheny Village. How do we do that without losing our desirable small beach town identity? What development is right for Dana Point?
These are difficult issues. But we have weathered difficulties before and we will do so again.
However, if we are to successfully deal with the uncertainties that lie ahead, we must choose unity over conflict and discord. Every day, the Letters to the Editor and online comments in our local paper or posts on social media are filled with gratuitous personal swipes aimed at residents who have done nothing more than get involved in an effort to better their community. Whole neighborhoods are singled out for scorn. Resident groups are targeted because their mission is to better their surroundings, which ultimately benefits the whole city.
Those who give their time to improve their neighborhoods or join committees to improve life in our city are to be commended, not attacked. Volunteers, who demonstrate their commitment and passion to work for the betterment of others, are an important resource to be encouraged, not vilified.
We must put an end to petty grievances, move beyond the injurious recriminations over past battles lost and reject the needless divisiveness that saps our collective strength. We all have far too much invested in the health and well-being of our city to allow those who hurl personal insults against residents and pit neighbor against neighbor to tear us apart.
To be sure, it is essential to be able to freely express diverse opinions and points of view. It is appropriate to hold elected officials accountable. What is equally important, however, is the manner in which our disagreements are communicated to one another. We must not lose sight of the fact that our collective goal is and always has been the betterment of Dana Point. We may have different ideas of what that means. We may have different approaches to solving problems. But what brings us together is so much stronger than our differences.
No matter where in this city we choose to live, no matter what our part of town is called, we are all one Dana Point. We are greater together than the sum of our parts. By working together, we will successfully meet any challenge.