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Joe Muller
Joe Muller

By Joe Muller, Dana Point City Councilman

I am opposed to Measure H for multiple reasons.

The city of Dana Point and the South Coast Water District spent millions to prepare for the Lantern District Plan. Measure H will make any development in the Town Center too costly, which will mean the empty lots stay empty. This will cost the city approximately $4.5 million in lost Development Impact Fees, as well as $680,000 per year in lost sales tax revenue.   

It will eliminate the “park once and walk” environment envisioned for the Lantern District. This was the vision that took more than 30 months and 30 public meetings to define. “Park once and walk” districts don’t consist of large private parking lots. They consist of shared public parking lots that will be free to residents.

It will stop shops, restaurants and other services from coming to Dana Point.  Dana Point residents currently need to leave the city to buy a pair of jeans. Most people leave to have dinner. Our resorts send their guests to neighboring cities for these services. This is unacceptable. This is lost revenue for our city, revenue that is used to build infrastructure, deliver programs and events for our residents. For more information on this, you can go to the city’s web page ( and view the economic impact report from Keyser Marston Associates.

The “yes on H” group is providing misleading information and was actually sued by a citizens group regarding comments they made (in their rebuttal statement to Measure I). The judge agreed, stating the group had made “false and misleading” statements and ordered them to remove some and change others.

Most of the changes they are proposing are already part of the Lantern District Plan (Town Center Plan). One such change is building height. They are proposing a 40-foot maximum height limit, which is already in the existing plan. In reality they are proposing a 40-foot height that would include utilities, such as air conditioning units and elevator shafts. This effectively reduces the heights of buildings by nearly an entire story.

They accuse the City Council of approving huge buildings and destroying the city. This is simply untrue. There is no evidence to support any of their claims. As a matter of fact, this Council denied the only request for a variance that has come before it. They are relying on speculation and fear because the facts to support their claims simply don’t exist.

They accuse the Council of being arrogant for running Measure I. Their reasoning being 4,240 residents signed the petition. What they don’t tell you is only 3,081 were verified and Dana Point has over 20,398 registered voters (as of April 2, 2015). A total of 940 of the signatures checked were found invalid. I have been personally contacted by many people who signed the petition but no longer support it, because they found out what it would do to our city. As a result, the Council ran Measure I as an informational measure so people would truly understand the impacts of Measure H. I think most people consider holding true to your beliefs shows integrity, not arrogance.

They accuse the Council of being in the pocket of developers and special interests. This Council has not given one variance or concession to any developer and denied a developer’s request for a Community Facilities District (CFD), better known as a Mello Roos District.    

We have City Council elections every two years. If you don’t agree with the Council, work hard and change the members. Damaging an entire city because you don’t agree with the current Council members is short-sighted and only hurts the city of Dana Point.

Please vote no on Measure H and yes on Measure I.

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (19)

  • Sorry Joe, but your statement just isnt’ true. You state “They accuse the City Council of approving huge buildings and destroying the city. This is simply untrue. There is no evidence to support any of their claims. As a matter of fact this council denied the only request for a variance that has come before it. They are relying on speculation and fear because the facts to support their claims simply don’t exist”

    Fact of the matter is that the first major project to go in front of the City Council on appeal after being denied by the Planning Commission was the Majestic property. The main reason the Planning Commission rejected the plan was because of variances that were contrary to the Town Center Plan.

    From the Dana Point Times article published on October 21, 2014 titled – City Council Approves Majestic Project in Town Center/Lantern District. “The plan includes two variance requests. One, that the applicant be allowed to pay for 26 in lieu parking spaces amounting to $390,000 and a second that will allow portions of the plan, not fronting Pacific Coast Highway or Del Prado Avenue, to include four-story residential structures, which fall within the 40-foot maximum allowed in the Town Center Specific Plan. The TCSP, as written, allows a 40-foot maximum and three stories.”

    And from the Orange County Register article published on October 28, 2014 titled – Dana Point council approves condos, downtown retail. “A variance to allow four stories and a second variance to pay for in-lieu fees for 26 parking spaces were approved, despite opposition.”

    You conveniently state that “this council” hasn’t approved a variance and while it was the prior council who granted these variances it is the City Council’s actions past and present that have brought about the citizen’s Measure H. If you can’t get the facts straight pertaining to the only major town center project to come before the council, how are we to believe any of the other “facts” regarding the City Council’s Measure I and claims that it is not a smoke screen to confuse voters.

    • Muller: <<>>

      The City has a long history of costly plan failures like the Cape Cod themed architecture,traffic schemes, and now it wants to make us into a densely crowded, generic concrete and palm tree shopping mall.

      Muller: <<>>

      That 30 months of “vision” came up with nothing original or unique is nothing to brag about. As is often the case, the required meetings are held, but public input that doesn’t jive with the developers plans is largely ignored. The same thing is happening with the harbor. They held the required meetings, minimized citizen input, then went ahead with the developers plans anyway (and switched to closed door meetings). Where is that harbormaster anyway? He sure knew how to run a meeting with developers controlling the show (for $50k a month).

      Muller: <<>>

      It’s called real estate SPECULATION. A city must not ruin its citizens quality of life for a developers profit margins. If I wanted to live in a crowded condo wasteland I would have moved to one.

      Muller: <<>>

      Popular tourist city centers like Laguna and Santa Monica build discrete parking structures public parking structures for downtown visitors. Why not plan a couple parking structures rather than having our city rent parking spaces from land owners to accommodate Town Center visitors. If we allow developers to build more than we have parking for, just so they make bigger profits, we will regret it for the rest of our lives.

      Muller: <<>>

      Most people now buy jeans online. Malls and factory outlets are struggling. Read the financial section. People leave to have dinner because our DP restaurants are, unfortunately, mediocre. Hotels send people to other cities because those cities are authentic and interesting. Laguna has art history and gorgeous beaches with crystal clear water. San Juan has the Mission and history. San Clemente has an authentic Ole Hanson vibe. Dana Point’s strong suit is the harbor and it’s surfing heritage. Unfortunately, developers were allowed to isolate our city center from the harbor, and our surfing heritage is of no interest to non-surfing tourists. More poor planning will not overcome this planning failure. Overdeveloping won’t make us more desirable to tourists… it will just make us overdeveloped.

      Muller: <<>>

      More people voted for candidates other than the ones that got elected. That’s the result of money and coordinated campaigning efforts in a diluted field.

      (John Tomlinson 2,450 votes, Richard Viczorek’s 2,386 Joe Muller 2,333, Jody Payne 2268, Alan Wickstrom 2258, Nancy Jenkins 2104, Harold Kaufman 1852, Ryan Divel 1450, and Chuck Rathbone 1,267 votes.)

      I’m voting Yes on H (Yes on Home) No on I (No on Irvine-like density)

  • Oh poor Joe, he just doesn’t get it, does he? The sins of the fathers followed you to what you thought would be a cushy job and get you more creds with your country club buddies at the bar and this is what you got instead. Boo-hoo, they’re so mean to me! Measure I was a sham perpetrated by Patrick Munoz and Chotkevys because they couldn’t stand how popular opinion was supporting the residents ballot measure and this was the only way to confuse the issue. You’ve danced to their tune on every agenda item and done their bidding on voting the way they wanted you to and now you just don’t understand why everyone believes everything is pre-determined before you ever get on that dais to vote for an item….no discussion….done deal, now vote!

    I hope you’re enjoying your 15 minutes of fame because it’s coming at a cost and now you’re wondering why you’re not having any fun anymore…boo-hoo!

  • Well said DP Local and well researched. The history of violations hiding behind lawsuits is criminal.

  • I want to see Dana Point move ahead and become a flourishing, vibrant downtown. Having the job of a city councilman or an elected official position is not easy. For those individuals that can’t use their name on here shame on you. Have some courage, use your name or just don’t say anything at all. I have lived in Dana Point for almost 3 years and my family and I live on Santa Clara. I do not support Measure H because I want to see Dana Point move forward and get the updates it needs to have a walkable downtown with restaurants and shops. my wife and I like the restaurants in town but would like more options. As far as shopping we have to leave town for everything except groceries.

    Voting in favor of H will stop all progress and the repercussions of this will take years to fix.

    • Harrison, you sound like a nice young man with a bright future. Please be careful that you don’t align with the wrong people who won’t hesitate to use you toward their political ends. Do some research and take a good look at both sides. As someone new to town, I suggest you visit and get the other side of this story before blindly following some who might not be working in your best interests. Measure H is pro development and wants exactly the same walkable downtown you seek. We just want to achieve that without using every cent in the City treasury and creating a high density downtown with little to no parking. Look closely at the parking standards under each plan and see if they would make sense to you if you were a restaurant owner or someone wanting to rent a 1 bedroom apartment to share with your working wife. Measure I doesn’t make sense on many levels. Please check these things out carefully and think for yourself.

  • Long-Time Resident Reply

    Overall, this was a good post by Mr. Muller.

    Developer profit margins would be close to zero or negative for current mixed-use development under Measure H. The highest land value the Keyser Marston analysis came up with under Measure H was $1/sq ft, and even that case study required 4 stories. So for example, the Advent lot at the corner of Del Prado and Violet Lantern would be worth at most $18,900 for mixed-use.

    They didn’t analyze non mixed use, so the actual lot value might be greater. In any event I can’t see downtown lots ever selling that cheaply, so Measure H will simply stop mixed-use development for the foreseeable future. Most likely, the land owners would just hold out for the eventual repeal of Measure H if it passes and is approved by the Coastal Commission, and get a property tax reduction in the meantime.

    We might get some non mixed-use development like Bevmo under Measure H. But Section 7 of H apparently incentivizes lawsuits against developers and the City, so there’s no guarantee even that will happen.

  • Say it isn’t so Joe!

    Joe you are a fraud ! This is the first line of your Muller for City council website…

    I am very excited about the Town Center project.The new infrastructure being implemented will undoubtedly bring in the needed commercial and residential development the city has been lacking. I look forward to working with the individual developers and their projects to ensure they adhere not only to the letter of the plan but also the spirit. Resident centered development should be the rule not the exception in the Town Center.
    What a liar ! THE LETTER OF THE PLAN !!! You are trying to undermine the plan !
    You should be restricted from all voting to do with town center, because of your conflict of interests due to your property management with the the area.

    How we elected a non local is beyond me. Go back to IOWA Joe ! You don’t get it and you don’t belong here! It think you have seen field of dreams too many times , Is there a voice in your head saying if you build they will come? We don’t want them or you here!
    You are purely motivated by protecting your own real estate interests and NOT the residents of Dana Point a clear violation of your oath of office. You sicken me.

    Take the power away from this fraud and VOTE YES ON H !!!!!

    See him for what he is folks; a liar from out of state,(when elected had only been here 3 years), that that ran for office to acquire influence to cash in. He saw a city ripe for exploitation and we handed our city to him on a silver platter.


  • Dear Mr. Muller,

    The fact that you can so easily discount the thousands of Dana Point residents who endorsed the 2015 Town Center Initiative, Measure H, is truly unbelievable. For your information, the registrar of voters stopped qualifying signatures when the 3,081 number was reached.

    The City Council’s approval of the Majestic/Raintree project was before your time. You did not participate in the hours and hours of meetings and see the hundreds of residents voicing their objections. The Majestic/Raintree project violates many important provisions of the 2008 Town Center Plan that the Community approved. Measure H promotes development that adheres to those provisions.

    City Councils will change over time. That’s why it’s so important to have a fair, responsible and consistent plan in place for Town Center on behalf of all Dana Point residents.

    Measure H is a result of the fact that the Majestic/Raintree project violated most of the important provisions of the Town Center Plan. residents didn’t want to see more of those projects approved, particularly after you fired highly qualified and dedicated Planning Commissioners. By the way, H allows for 42″ above the 40 foot height limit to accommodate mechanical equipment including air conditioners, etc.


    Betty Hill

    • Let’s also put things in perspective regarding the “mandate” our sitting city council seems to think they have with their election to office. Councilman Muller states, “They accuse the Council of being arrogant for running Measure I.” and it is the same few people who are supporting Measure H. The fact is that 4,240 residents signed the petition. Remember that in the last election Councilman Tomlinson received 2,450 votes, Councilman Viczorek received 2,386 votes and Councilman Muller the least of the three elected with 2,333 votes. It is an insult to dismiss the signators of the Measure H petition saying that it is an insignificant number when this is close to double the number of Dana Point residents who voted Muller into office.

  • Wait a minute! Isn’t Mueller the same guy who turned into the incredible hulk and breathed fire on that poor lady who dared present a dissenting opinion in public comments? His complete disdain for the people he claims to represent is on full display in this article. “4200 signatures? Who cares? So what if that’s twice the votes I managed to buy with over $50K in campaign funds from special interests. I, the great King Mueller know so much more than you do and I know 2 or 3 people were confused by the initiative, so I’m going to confuse them more by making up a phony ballot measure.” The rationale for Measure I was so obscure, I’ll bet you had to get written notes from the “real” council – Chotkevys and Munoz, and rehearse before the council meeting where you all pretended to just stumble upon it as a perfect solution. It looks like they helped you with this article too. Why don’t you and your buddies just resign and we can deal directly with the guys behind the curtain?

    • Thanks to Robert for pointing out where the real direction in this city comes from, Patrick and Chotchkeys. Joe got elected to the city council after living in the city for about a year. He beat his next closest rival by about 60 votes and a campaign that spent that spent about $35,000 more than she did. She was a long term resident with an impressive track record of community service.

      We should consider where the money to elect Joe came from, What did the people who contributed it have in mind when they got him elected? I do not think Jody Payne would have written a letter like this or used her power as an elected official to overturn the intentions of 4200 people to put an important question to a vote. November is our opportunity to fix the evident problems with our city council.

  • The privately-schemed “I” proposal was never vetted publicly and is yet another example of governments handing out CORPORATE WELFARE (free parking) to developers at the expense of taxpaying residents.

    Where are all the so-called fiscal conservative politicians? Perhaps they’re vacationing with a sweetheart deal (at taxpayer’s expense) at a certain harbor hotel.

    YES on H is a fiscally conservative vote as it eliminates taxpayer-funded parking, as well as city politicians’ corrupt horse-trading of design specs, via mandating strict adherence to OUR publicly-vetted Town Center Plan.

    • Long-Time Resident Reply

      Measure I is the original TC plan plus the parking changes made in Sept, 2015, which had public input. Total revenue over 60 years (life of LD) if Measure I passes would be $35 million. “Present value” of that income stream would be $14.2 – $16.2 million using reasonable assumptions, more than enough to pay for public parking, if needed. Do the math or I could show it to you.

      • LTR
        I will give you some different math. At full build out Keysor Marden estimated annual tax revenue for the Lantern District – both sales tax and the city’s property tax receipts would be $673,000 per year. Total build out may take 10 or ?? years.

        If by some miracle it was accomplished tomorrow and we deducted the developer fees of 15% we would have a hard construction tab of $17 million to be amortized annually at $673,000. Payback would be 25 years. No adjustment for interest or loss of opportunity. If we include the soft costs of $6 million for Roma Design, other consultants and city manpower to date, on top of construction then payback would be 34 years. And that is if it was all completed and online TOMORROW. It is unforgivably stupid that virtually all of the city’s financial capacity for future progress is tied up in 75 acres for the next 35 – 45 years. Explain that.

        Measure I is really away to get more money dumped in to the Lantern District thru discounting the cost of parking for developers. Just say No.

      • Long-Time Resident Reply


        The “present value” or “discounted cash flow” (look it up) of $14.2m – $16.2m I calculated takes into account the lost opportunity cost you mentioned. So by my calc the LD development will never be repaid using KM’s numbers of $673K/yr and one-time fees of $4.2m – $4.7m. Mr Chotkevys said it would take about 30 years for build-out, and I assumed the $673K increases linearly each year.

        So my more accurate numbers are worse than yours, but I give you props for your post.

        Defending the initial LD expenditure is a different issue, the money has been spent and we can’t get it back.

  • Why should government be allowed to mandate parking lots on private property? I am for property rights. Read “High cost of free parking” by Donald Shop
    – Shoupista and DP long time resident

    • “Why should government be allowed to mandate parking lots on private property?”
      Why should government – the taxpayers – provide parking so developers can avoid making all the investments their development needs? Maybe government should also provide doors and toilet seats for the buildings you want to erect. You could make more money not providing those essentials as well.

      You do not seem to realize that the $20 million give away of Dana Points taxpayer resources that is the foolish PCH/Del Prado road and streetscape construction project was the last handout you are going to get from us. No more. You build it – You park it.

  • Thank you DanaPointer for concisely summarizing the core reason for Measure I. Measure I’s only purpose is to drastically reducing the number of parking spots that are required by the building codes (and increase profits) and to undermine the Town Center Plan in general. Effectively pushing parking demand onto the limited street space in the Lantern District and surrounding neighborhoods. The developers want it both ways less regulation and oversight in developing their property, but at the same time they’re demanding a massive subsidy from the city (and every taxpayer in Dana Point) to provide and maintain the required parking for their buildings. “I” supporters love to say there isn’t a parking problem and there is ample spots in town center on the street. The street parking inventory (by the city’s own survey and analysis) is only 560 spaces, not nearly enough if you start doing buildout projections for the area factoring in residential and business needs. I agree people should read what Shoup wrote and not just the “High Cost of Free Parking”. His economic “theories” work great on paper, and might work in very dense areas with ample public transportation options but his simplistic theory about demand pricing for parking is best left to the paper it is printed on. Does anyone really think the answer is to simply price parking high enough that there is always an open space or two on the street? Nowhere in his writing does he discuss whether the parking provided is enough to sustain the businesses in an area. His focus is about pricing street parking to insure there are open spots not whether there is enough to meet true demand.

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