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Council re-approves downtown signage, this time with a split vote
By Andrea Papagianis
Despite community concerns, the City Council reapproved entryway plans for the downtown Lantern District Tuesday night, keeping the project on track for a summer bidding process.
The item reappeared on the body’s agenda this week after unanimously being approved as a consent calendar item March 18. Since, community members have raised issue with the approval process, continuity and a design that seemingly favored Del Prado Avenue over Pacific Coast Highway.
The project was again approved, but this time in a 3-2 vote.
As approved, three poles will be erected on PCH featuring banners for special events and marketing campaigns. On Del Prado, a stucco archway with red tiles, mimicking the pedestrian bridge on the southern end of town, will be built, marking the entrance to the Lantern District.
Residents raised issue with the project’s approval Tuesday, saying community members, outside an ad-hoc committee made up of council members and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Del Prado businesses and the city’s architect, should have been involved.
Keith Johannes, who along with wife Barbara is involved with the Dana Point Historical Society, asked the council to reconsider their decision as it divides Dana Point.
“I assume a lot of people in our town don’t know what is going on here,” Johannes said. “Reserve the item and let the community have its say.”
Councilmen Bill Brough, Carlos Olvera and Steven Weinberg expressed frustration the council was again presented with the item. Brough said bringing an item back could set a dangerous precedent, pointing to measures he voted against, like the plastic-bag ban, being reintroduced.
“I am not a fan of revisiting things,” Weinberg said. “We made a decision and need to move on.”
The council voted to leave the designs as is, with Mayor Lisa Bartlett and Councilman Scott Schoeffel dissenting. Both expressed an interest in opening entryway designs to resident input.
“We have to be careful,” Bartlett said, regarding spending taxpayers’ dollars. “We want to get it right.”
“We want to get it right.”–Mayor Lisa Bartlett
Brad Fowler, the city’s director of public works and engineering, said the archway was designed to draw travelers down Del Prado.
With the city’s current street improvements PCH and Del Prado will be changed from one-way to two-way roadways. PCH will remain a major vein through the city with two lanes in each direction. On the other hand, Del Prado will become more pedestrian friendly, as medians will be added and one lane of traffic will travel in each direction. Additionally, stoplights will be replaced with stop signs.
The city’s goal is to have 25 percent of traffic traveling Del Prado.
“We are not worried about PCH, we are worried about Del Prado,” Weinberg said, adding the committee had to figure out how to drive traffic for businesses in the area. “We owe it to those businesses so they have traffic and we have a vibrant Lantern District.”
“We owe it to those businesses so they have traffic and we have a vibrant Lantern District.”–Councilman Steven Weinberg
The council’s approval keeps the project on track, Fowler said. Archway foundations will be laid as part of the city’s current work on northern Del Prado. The archway is expected to cost $500,000.
While the city’s first construction phases, mostly along PCH, have been budgeted for, construction costs along Del Prado have not yet been approved. The project, along with the remaining work on Del Prado, could go out to bid this summer.