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By Brandon Phillips, Dana Point, founder of the Skatepark of Dana Point initiative

As we quickly approach this upcoming election, the citizens of Dana Point will be bombarded with political graffiti. The newspaper ads, the mailers and the pop-up signage, so patriotically designed, will litter high-traffic street corners and neighborhoods. Candidates will spend thousands of dollars to promote themselves, in hopes that they might earn your vote. Lucky for us, we are a well-educated community, capable of looking past the graffiti and deep into these candidates’ platforms and character to find good leadership for our special city.

Dana Point is facing great change. I think we can all agree that the only thing consistent in life is change. Why change comes about and how it affects future generations are of utmost importance. As it is, our City Council’s collective mindset is that Dana Point is lacking identity, thus bringing about radical developmental changes in hopes to boost tourism, revenue and to emulate our neighboring beach communities. But Dana Point has long been identified by surfers, skateboarders, merchant sailors, missionaries, ranchers, fisherman and precious natural resources, its identity coming from its abundance of talented and eclectic citizens and standing out amongst our neighbors to the north and south.

Agreed, progress is vital to a growing city, but progress without strong leadership and vision leads to discontentment and certain failure.

When major projects are proposed that threaten the quality of life so many generations have valued, we begin to notice these projects directly benefit only a small group. Negotiating height variances, blocking public access to beaches, denying the progression of parks and open space are only some examples of poor leadership and a disconnect between representatives and residents. When individual ideals and standards outweigh the citizens’ collective voice, we start to become a broken community.

Town Center, Harbor Revitalization and Doheny Village top most of the candidates’ lists and for great reason. But there are other projects that will have immediate impact on the city and its residents. For example: The Majestic project, the proper use and development of the 30 acres of land along San Juan Creek and the high demand for a quality built skate park. These proposals will require a city council that empowers the community’s voice as the deciding factor. This will ensure future generations are given the same privileges, experiences and opportunities that were established by our elders. The candidates are going to be faced with some of the toughest decisions while under the most critical observation any council of Dana Point has experienced in a long time.

It is time progress meets character and change meets vision as we develop our new “identity.”

As Dana Point’s mission states: “We are committed to providing an efficient and effective government which is open and responsive to the needs of the community and works for the benefit of all.”

This statement should reflect our City Council, Planning Commission and Water Board’s decision making, every step of the way.

I encourage you to spend time getting to know the candidates’ platforms and character in preparation for the upcoming election.

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