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By Dana Point Mayor Jamey Federico
The past year challenged all of us, but Dana Point truly showed its resilience. I am proud to have witnessed the enduring sense of community from our residents and businesses, as individuals and organizations each stepped up to offer a helping hand and support one another throughout the pandemic. In spite of the economic challenges, our community supported successful new business openings, continued development and planning efforts, and earned international accolades that set Dana Point apart from other coastal cities. Now, as our vaccination rates increase and loosening restrictions pave the way for a more normal summer, I am excited to share that Dana Point is ready to move forward with great potential and many new opportunities.
We made international news earlier this year when Dana Point was designated by the World Cetacean Alliance as the first Whale Heritage Site in North America, and one of only four in the world. The New York Times heralded its significance, noting the growing importance of eco-oriented tourism and citing that the Whale Heritage Site program “could be [to marine tourism] what National Parks are to the U.S.” This recognition not only supports our tourism industry but is also an opportunity to showcase the community’s environmental leadership.
When the California Coastal Commission recently granted official approval for Bellwether Financial Group’s $330 million redevelopment of Dana Point Harbor, it was recognition that this important investment in our waterfront will be done responsibly, after years of community collaboration. With this investment, we will soon have more places to gather and enjoy the water, more places to park, and much-needed new commercial spaces for our valued harbor businesses.
We recently reopened Amber Lantern Street, marking a new look and experience in our Town Center. The Lantern District is now home to beautiful residences, new restaurants, and soon we will see more bustling storefronts and attractive public spaces that will further enhance the inviting walkability of our unique “downtown.”
While these milestones and millions of dollars in investment will encourage job creation and support more business growth, they also reinforce what makes Dana Point a special place: it’s the passion and loyalty of the people who live here that make the difference. Looking ahead, I’m confident that these new businesses will be good partners in strengthening our community.
As Dana Point continues to focus on recovery, I want to emphasize that we all play an important role in ensuring our city moves forward in the right direction. Shop local. Eat Local. Stay local. Let our local business owners and their employees know how important they are to our city and remind them that Dana Point is friendly, accessible, and authentic.
My city council colleagues and I join you in looking forward to all the events and celebrations that bring our community together, and city staff are hard at work planning the summer programs. Until then, I encourage you to take pride in how our community persevered through last year’s trials and strengthened our reputation as a vibrant, world-class city.