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Toni Nelson, Co-Founder, Capo Cares

Dana Point currently faces many serious challenges—a looming budget shortfall, homelessness, rising petty crimes, aging infrastructure and revitalizing commercial areas—all while preserving and protecting this little corner of paradise we call “home.” What is needed now are smart, talented people who love their community to raise their heads above the crowd and engage in civic discussion, serve on commissions and run for City Council. While reasoned debate and disagreement facilitates solutions, the descent into unwarranted personal attacks and misinformation recently embodied in letters to the Dana Point Times only destroys.

I write this not to dissuade naysayers, since some can create conspiracy theories out of thin air, but to set the record straight for those who prefer facts.

  • Capo Cares is a volunteer, nonprofit organization whose supporters work tirelessly for the good of our community. It advocates for beautification, enhanced public safety, responsible development and revitalization, while working hard to preserve the unique culture and eclectic charm of Capo Beach.
  • In just three and a half years, Capo Cares has grown to nearly 900 supporters who are ordinary Capistrano Beach residents and business owners.
  • Newsletters and daily Facebook posts inform supporters about relevant articles and information.
  • Accomplishments include numerous beautification projects, countless appearances before Council, and meetings with representatives of county, state and local agencies to lobby for enhanced public safety, beach improvements, Doheny Village revitalization, road and median enhancement, PCH bridge improvements, park enhancements, code enforcement issues, coastal cleanup and preservation, improved roads and freeway entrances, arts and culture, protective legislation and more.
  • Capo Cares is completely independent; it has no official affiliation with any other groups. Of course, it cooperates with and supports common causes.
  • Capo Cares does not charge dues or fees and has no funding from developers, businesses or any individual.
  • Capo Cares co-founders have no financial interests in the city of Dana Point, other than personal residences.
  • Capo Cares respects the various political opinions of our supporters and encourages all political candidates to attend our debates or public forums. We neither require nor expect our supporters to constantly agree with us. We welcome open, respectful discussion and make every effort to be open-minded.

I welcome sincere questions about Capo Cares. You can contact me directly at

To submit a letter to the editor, email

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About The Author DP Times

comments (40)

  • Monarch Beach Cares Reply

    Ms. Nelson, I give you all the credit in the world, you have developed a very effective grassroots lobbying group. In fact since the Capo area receives more bang for the buck than the other 2 areas (LD and MB), you should take a bow. However, for the other remaining 80% of the citizenship, most of us are concerned that you have too much power. When one area receives so many additional benefits, while the other areas pay the bills, facts do come into question. When you and the mayor meet behind closed doors and develop plans (brown act ?) unknown to others, make your way onto the FRC and then dictate to the council what they should be doing, even though I don’t see councilwomen on your title. It means you have amassed a ton of power. Just understand, power corrupts and the rest of the town should be concerned. We have no growth due to the Save Dana Point group and Capo Cares. And that’s on you!

    • What additional benefits are we getting? I’m excited to find out, because all I see around are homeless encampments, a boarded up hotel, a run down shopping center with drugged out homeless, and a crummy state beach with the same RV residents every day. Do fill us in.

    • Dear Monarch Beach Cares – As I said in my letter to the editor, I’m happy to respond to sincere questions about Capo Cares. Your anonymous response has a lot of allegations that are completely erroneous and I’d really love the opportunity to correct your misimpression and set your mind at ease. I will answer some of them here because I am disturbed that your allegations will sit out here in cyberspace as “alternative facts” so I will correct the record for others.

      I invite you to email me at and we can arrange to meet for coffee and I’ll be happy to discuss all your concerns. Our only coffee shop in Capo Beach is Donut World on Doheny Park Road, but if you’re up for it, I’m game.

      You are claiming that Capo receives more “bang for the buck” and “many additional benefits” compared to other areas. I would love to take you on a tour of Capistrano Beach so you can point these out. Please bring along your list and we can review it. With the exception of some major and necessary sewer work that was done years ago when Capo Beach first became part of Dana Point; some under-grounding of utilities on main arterials more than 20 years ago, mostly funded through utility agency programs, and routine maintenance of our streets, (some of which is expensive because the County did not maintain our roads to Dana Point’s service level) I am unaware of any substantial above ground infrastructure projects in Capo Beach — but perhaps you can enlighten me. I’m not sure why you would be concerned, actually, because we are all one city and if there is a need for sewer and road maintenance in other areas, we in Capo would never begrudge these basic services to other neighborhoods. If you insist on the comparison game, though, please bring your list and we can sit down and check them against the City’s comprehensive annual financial reports and CIP budgets. If your figures are correct, we may have to bring in forensic accountants, because if more money has been spent over here, it’s not at all apparent and there may be something untoward going on.

      You may not be aware of the fact that Capo Cares has lobbied for only two major projects – Doheny Village and the renovation of the lower bluff at our beloved Pines Park. Neither of these projects is funded and neither is included on the CIP budgets for the forecast period contained in the budget passed last Tuesday (so much for my supposed “power”.). You may also not be aware of the fact that part of the Lantern District was funded with a sale of $3.6 million in Capo Beach park land in 2014, or that the bike lane on PCH, which would have been substantially funded by grants, has been put on hold due to the current financial problems. No one has objected to this.

      You also may not know that Capo Cares lobbied the former Council, including Messrs, Muller, Viczorek and Tomlinson 5 or 6 times in public comment, begging them to put money into a reserve for Doheny Village infrastructure improvements. None of them agreed to put such funding on the agenda, and that reserve still has a balance of $0. I do not expect to see one dime for a single plant or light pole in Doheny Village any time soon since the City’s discretionary savings are completed depleted. I wouldn’t presume to ask for such funding at this point, because it’s simply not possible without dipping into reserves.

      As to my position on the FRC, I am unaware of any rules that say one may not participate on a City commission if he or she is involved in an HOA, or a non-profit group, or a particular church. I’m a very civic minded person and actually participate in many volunteer and charitable capacities. If you are aware of any such rules, Brown Act. or otherwise, please let me know immediately. I am also unaware of any Brown Act issues if an appointee of the FRC discusses a subject with a member of the Council. I believe the Brown Act would apply if I discussed a matter that we bring up at FRC with more than one member of the FRC. The same goes for Council members discussing things with more than one Councilman. I’m new to this, but please bring me chapter and verse when we meet so I can consult with the City Attorney and be absolutely sure that I am not violating any rules. I often talk to members of other city commissions and I’ve had numerous conversations with all the Council members about financial and other matters, so if there is some issue that the City Attorney did not adequately explain to us, I would like to know immediately.

      Of course, the most significant thing to remember is that FRC has NO power to make policy or any decision as to spending or anything else. That is the exclusive right of the Council.. FRC is simply a body of people with financial expertise who are looking at financial records of the City and trying to help plug the looming budget holes. That is a huge challenge and every stone will likely be overturned in an attempt to find more revenue or ease expenses. You also may not know that every document we review on FRC is a public record. We see nothing that would not also be available to any member of the public.

      I love my City and want Dana Point to thrive. I have a great interest in seeing responsible development occur throughout the city. You seem to decry Measure H which was a very popular resident initiative to prevent the Council from granting further developer concessions not contemplated in the Town Center Plan. If you disagree, why not start your own initiative and overturn H? Anger at the outcome of a democratic process seems pointless.

      As a practical matter, I know that there will NEVER be money for Doheny Village improvements until we get our fiscal house in order, and if every lot in Lantern District was developed tomorrow, that would still not be nearly enough with our expenditures soon surpassing revenue, even on an operating basis. In that respect, I am exactly the person you should want on FRC, because I will work harder than most to get us into a position where we can start accumulating surpluses again, and maybe one day bring DV out of the dark ages.. Why don’t we work together to improve the City’s financial position? Residents never show up at FRC, We’d love to hear your ideas.

      Your allegation that my honest desire to help the City out of its financial morass is somehow a power grab, is completely unfounded and doubly upsetting because you won’t append your name. I simply don’t see what “power” or benefits you are referring to, but bring me your concerns and I am very happy to answer all your questions. I take my position on FRC very seriously. It is a lot of work and it exposes me to criticism from uninformed and often anonymous people. I’m sorry, but I find that a little creepy. I’m a retired grandmother and most say I’m a very nice and decent person. I won’t bite — really. Send me an email, we’ll meet for coffee (I’ll buy!) and we’ll talk this out in person. Honest discussion and collaboration will help Dana Point so much more than pointless criticism. Come out of the shadows and let’s talk!.

      • Ms Nelson,

        You talk about Measure H being “popular”, but fact is Capo Cares is popular, you’ve built an organization that a lot of people look to for leadership. You seem to be distancing yourself from Measure H. It was a resident initiative driven by you and people like Mayor Lewis and Councilman Wyatt. Is that factually inaccurate? Whose Idea was ballot box zoning? Are you surprised that development has stalled? Why would you expect anyone to develop in Doheny Village, knowing how anti development our city has become? How do you foresee tax revenue increasing without development in the Town Center? How do you foresee taxes increasing without STRs? You fought against a Park Hyatt being built across from Doheny. Now were are left with an empty dirt lot an no tax revenue. I would tend to agree that Capo Beach could use a little TLC, hard to understand what you and Mayor Lewis are proposing to generate funds to pay for it. My questions are sincere and I respect what your groups does, would love to hear your perspective.

        • Jake Browning, I can only speak for Capo Cares but we are absolutely pro development –RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT” . That means development that makes sense for the area, respects zoning heights, has adequate and convenient parking on site or through nearby shared resources, adds something beneficial to Dana Point and does not unduly impact residential areas. That means developers pay their fair share for infrastructure and do not get bargains that unfairly burden taxpayers.

          I was not involved in the formation of Measure H and did not take a position on it as Capo Cares except to provide information to the community. Quite frankly my primary concern was Capo Beach and I was too busy elsewhere to pay much attention. In fact, I only took a position personally when I watched the Council meeting where the Council took the unbelievable action of creating the ill-conceived Measure I. Citizens were outraged about this clear attempt to obfuscate and control the outcome of a citizens’ initiative. It just seemed completely corrupt and undemocratic and i believe Measure H won handily to a great degree because of the audacity behind the fabrication of Measure I. It was, in my opinion, a very low point in Dana Point politics.

          I think the big problem is that despite all the investment in one area – the Lantern District- the Council made grave errors in not figuring out parking first. If there was a public parking lot or structure, as wisely recommended in the Town Center Plan,I don’t think we’d be in the current pickle. Measure H was a reaction to the Council ignoring zoning and the Planning Commisdion to grant huge concessions to Majestic. Instead of looking out for residents,they abdicated their first responsibility and citizens took action. I agree that the Measure H parking standards, which basically brought back the old standards are likely too stringent. Yes he best answer is likely someplace between H and I. I also think if people would quit scoring political points and demonizing pro-resident people and groups, solutions can be found. Everyone benefits from responsible development but blaming H for vacant lots that have been there for decades is a gross misstatement.

          The money is gone at this point and we’re in quite a pickle. I wish I had been around when all this happened because I would have strongly recommended that we leverage our then very healthy savings by issuing long term bonds to fund infrastructure development for the whole City including Doheny Village. It makes sense to match loan payments to the long term revenue stream and is much easier on cash flow.

          Unfortunately we can’t turn back the clock. So the question is– do we fight over the financial
          car ass of our fair City or do we get together with people of good will, put down the rocks and start solving the problem and filling those lots? The current demonizing strategy is ugly and should be beneath our citizenry. It also isn’t working. So why not come to the table and work on solutions?

          • Correction: that was “carcass”,not “car ass”. One must keep one’s sense of humor!

          • So on the one hand you are saying that the city over paid on the Town Center buildout, but then you say they should have built a garage too? All paid for by the city taking on debt??? Enough debt to pay for the infrastructure at Doheny Village too? Wowzers, seem like a recipe to bankrupt our city.

            You supported Measure H to stick it to the developers? Well guess what, the Lantern District is dead, Doheny Village is dead. With no increases in tax revenue, Capo Beach will continue to languish. It’s sad, the city predicted what would happen if Measure H passed, you guys just didn’t want to listen. The Keyser Marston Associate’s report is still available for all to read on the City’s website.

            Ms Nelson, with power comes responsibility, for the good of our city, I hope you and the Hills learn from your mistakes.

          • OK, Jake, keep pounding on that $673K per annum (which is a long term, full build out number) as the answer to all our problems. Don’t you get it? It’s already been spent with this year’s increase in the public safety budget alone. The truth is that our budget problems will be solved (if the Council will allow it) by a combination of revenue increases and expenditure cuts and no stone should be left unturned. Why waste your time arguing ancient history? Where are YOUR ideas for solutions? Many of those vacant lots have been vacant for decades and are too small, have no on-site or nearby parking and/or are too close to a busy thoroughfare to be viable. You could put parking requirements at zero and some of them still won’t make sense because most businesses need parking.. Why not look at each lot and share YOUR good ideas for viable development?

            The City spent a fortune in Town Center out of current savings on the hopes of revenue streams decades out, and they didn’t have enough sense to adhere to their own plan and spend some of it on parking. This is a problem of their own making. It’s pointless to keep arguing the merits of Measure H. It was born out of resident frustration with a run away Council and it’s the law at the moment. If you want to change it, get an initiative going. Meanwhile, yes, bring any responsible developer forward and they’ll be welcomed with open arms, but residents who love Dana Point aren’t going to tolerate crazy density with no parking.

            And please – I have no idea what “power” I’m supposed to have. If I had any power Doheny Village wouldn’t still look like a rundown derelict from the 60s. I helped build a community organization to give a voice to an underserved area. Capo Cares is popular because it fills a need but we are a diverse community and people think for themselves.. If you want to build a group someplace else be my guest, but this constant criticism achieves nothing and makes you folks look petty and mean, dividing neighborhoods and making up ridiculous stories about people who actually care.. Are you going to attack the Lantern District Community Association next? How about all our HOAs? Don’t leave anyone out who cares about residents’ interests.. You’re not doing yourselves any favors by attacking pro-resident people and groups. Ultimately, the residents have all the power and they’ll exercise it with their votes.

            That’s it from me. My time is valuable. No more conversations with internet trolls who don’t have the courage to use real names or meet in person. Still waiting for even ONE serious contact from a real citizen with serious solutions….

          • Ms. Nelson,

            The Keyser Marston report estimated about $4.45 million in one-time fees and $673K/year in added revenue. It might be pocket change for you, but it’s going to result in millions lost for the city. $674K/yearly represents 38% of the City’s current 2020 budget shortfall. Not chump change by any stretch of the imagination. I’m shocked that you can treat it so lightly.

            Your comments regarding the lot sizes also help to understand that development is likely not an area of expertise for you. As with Majestic, most developers would likely look at parcelling multiple lots together for a development project. The idea that the size of the lots makes them unbuildable is utterly laughable. The reason why most remain undeveloped is owners were waiting for the town center plan to be completed, developing prior would have been insane. Unfortunately once Measure H passed it no longer penciled out to develop there, so these land owners are left holding the bag hoping for rational thinking to come back to the city. With Ballot Box zoning, even the slightest variance would require voter approval. Not a risk most investors would like to stomach. A simple solution to the problem would be to get rid of ballot box zoning, identify a target area for a parking structure and then put a plan in place to fund it. We somehow need to signal to the development community that Dana Point is business friendly. Unfortunately this will never happen because of Capo Cares, Save Dana Point and all the anti development fanatics out there.

            Regarding the power you wield, you have successfully organized a 1000-person strong organization and have figured out a way to drive them to the polls on election day, in a city where a few hundred votes can sway an election. Rather than focusing on ways to improve our community, you involved yourself with Measure H and the Vacationer Ordinance. I honestly believe you meant well, but those two initiatives likely cost our city $850K in lost revenue yearly.

            I wish I had the charisma and chutzpa to build an organization like Capo Cares but unfortunately my work and travel schedule keep my very occupied. Maybe when I retire I’ll start something in the north part of Dana Point.

          • It seems ludicrous to blame Capo Cares, Capistrano Beach or Toni Nelson on the City’s future budget shortfall when the City spent 26 million dollars on the City Center renovations in the last 3 years. I think all all reasonable residents can place the blame where blame is due.

    • Monarch Cares – You are utterly clueless about where the big money has been spent in Dana Point. The Lantern District got $26 million in the past 3 years and nothing even close to that was spent in Capo Beach. Instead a city owned Capo Beach park area was sold by the council in 2014 to a private party and the money transferred to pay for the Lantern District boondoggle. Any significant appropriations spent in the Capo Beach area predate the founding of Capo Cares. You really ought to get your facts straight before you call out Ms Nelson but I suspect your real purpose was just to sling mud however you could at the people like Ms Nelson and Mayor Lewis who are trying to get Dana Point back on track and out of the deficit spending pattern established under previous councils. I support their effort and so do the majority of Dana Point voters. The Muller Viczorek Tomlinson show is going to be over soon.

  • I walk my dogs in Pines Park a few times a week. Love the passion behind Capo Cares. So many people trying to make the community better. I love the passion.

    I worry that Toni has overstepped boundaries by using the organization to promote her own personal interests. Most who live in Capo know how close Toni is to Buck and Betty Hill (Save Dana Point). As I read about the contributions behind the Save Dana Point PAC I grow worried, $25,000 from Sanford Edwards, $2,500 from Mayor Lewis. Donations an other of magnitude larger than anyone else received.

    My wife registered to Capo Cares, but somehow received emails from Save Dana Point weekly for a long time. She couldn’t figure out how she got on their list. She posted s few negative comments regarding Measure H on Nextdoor and was told that she’d be removed from the list if she didn’t “get in line.”

    Ms Nelson, you built a wonderful organization, its a shame that you are now using it to promote personal self interests. Your indiscretions are the talk of the “park” when I walk my pups at Pine’s Park. You should be a shamed.

    If your passion is Save Dana Point, focus your energy there, but please don’t drag the rest of us in.


  • Shawna Cartwright Reply

    I love to walk my dog at Pines Park and have met a number of people in Capo Cares who often do the same. There are many great things the group is working to achieve that are very positive. Its exciting to see a group of people band together to help improve an area that has been an afterthought for a long time.

    I must admit, I have become worried by Toni Nelson’s close ties to Buck and Betty Hill and the Save Dana Point PAC. Their PAC has some dubious ties and I’ve always wondered if they would try to take advantage of the network Capo Cares has built. Anyone who lives in Capo Beach or has attended City Council meetings knows that these two families are close and there is nothing wrong with that. What is worrisome is when corporate funded PACs, get aligned with non profit organizations like Capo Cares to drive personal agendas. Now it appears that our Mayor, Councilman Wyatt, Capo Cares and Save Dana Point have aligned themselves with each other. I think it would be very helpful for Ms. Nelson to clarify if there is indeed a relationship that has been established between Capo Cares and Save Dana Point. Are contact lists being shared? Are they co- campaigning on initiatives? How active is she with Save Dana Point? These fair questions that deserve honest answers.

  • Wow. I thought I answered that completely in my letter to the editor. As I said, Capo Cares is not affiliated with Save Dana Point and I do not share email lists with anyone. Many organizations use Nation Builder, which is a site that pulls emails for a certain zip codes from social media sites. If people are on both SDP and CC lists, I can only assume that’s how it happened. While I personally supported Measure H,as did many others, I am not active in Save Dana Point and have nothing to do with their organization. I consider Buck and Betty Hill friends and have great admiration for the work they’ve done to promote the quiet zone and responsible development in Dana Point.

    I am proud of everything I’ve tried to do for Capo Beach but am very happy to stop right now if that is not appreciated. I’d actually like to get my life back and the community can find someone else to take on this difficult task and absorb the arrows.

    I have never met Sanford Edwards and could not pick him out of a lineup. He contributed, as is his right, to the campaign to repeal the short term rental ordinance along with several hotels and scores of citizens. . I have not derived one cent of personal gain of any kind from any of my advocacy for Capo Beach and any such suggestion is slanderous. . I’m shocked and deeply saddened that anyone would think this is so. I guess this is why it’s so hard to make a difference. When one dares to stick her head above the crowd, people invariably start shooting. If the community wants Capo Cares to stop caring, I’ll be happy to step aside. This is hard enough without having supporters suspecting me of ill intentions. Maybe the former City Manager was right 4 years ago when I asked him why Capo doesn’t have the same standards as the rest of Dana Point. He said “Capo doesn’t really care.” I’m very sad that perhaps he was right.

  • This entire sleepy little beach town of Capo is wide awake because of these people, you are so suspicious of.
    Most of us are connected by several groups, Capo Cares, Save DP, NW, Next-door and so many other’s. Im in several that want to remain nameless, due to all our DP mud slinging. We’ve developed quite the reputation.
    BTW, this is hurting all of us in ways you can’t imagine.
    Have you noticed lots of homes for-sale, not selling?
    Okay, so now heres a bit of your own medicine.
    Are you a renter? Trying to drive the market down for your own personal agenda?
    These people brave enough to take on some of these issues and stick their necks out and continually try to make our little slice of the pie a safer place to call home. Yes, this is very suspicious in this day and age, I agree.
    I think the mail snatching, drug needles scattered about and other bad behavior is becoming the norm for our neighborhoods.
    Trying to help neighbors has become suspicious and dubious!
    IN regards to their own agenda:
    Try and imagine the personal request these groups receive. Asking them to go out and address issue’s for others either to busy working, caring for their families or just too intimidated by our own city.
    People ask of these group leaders to go in and do their dirty work for them, while requesting to remain anonymous..
    This is precisely how we burn these people out, that we need now more than ever!
    How do I know this, Im guilty of this myself, and am ashamed now.
    I remember the frustration I felt when my personal request was not fixed by one of these group’s.
    I later learn it’s not that they wouldn’t, it’s that they couldn’t !
    This is how I learned of the hundreds of request they receive and try and help their neighbors with.
    The response I got to my request was, so sorry, I tried and here is the information I found out for you. If you follow this procedure the city is there to help you. Im sure if you go direct, which she then provided the contact info, you all will work out a solution. Which we actually did with her help and guidance.
    She went on to encourage us to start a neighborhood watch group. A suggested solution to ongoing neighbor dispute. Seemed actually silly to me at the time. But we did it.
    Neighbors had stopped speaking over something that happened years ago. But with all that is going on today in Dana Point, people were willing to put aside their differences, to try and work on the community.
    These are all woman not trying to do her own agenda, they are encouraging us to become more civic minded, to put your best foot forward and to work to make this the best Dana Point we can be.
    Anyway, this is how I learned of the amount of request pouring in and that this one woman is addressing each one as quickly as possible, in her free time.
    First, I’m saddened that as a woman things have not changed all that much, business is still a bit more of a challenge for us. Pay not quite the same. Not whining, just saying.
    Women communicate, and we are good at it, we solve problems and we also need support.
    If you know Betty, Toni or any of the many other various group leaders, BTW, who just so happen to be your neighbors . Why wouldn’t you have reached out to them?
    I know no one reads this but a few trolls and a couple caring people, but why try and damage someone or put suspicions in the mind of our 6 readers?
    I’d hate to loose 2 of the caring readers from our list.
    At a “women in business meeting”, held today over lunch (A group that want’s to remain nameless) brought up your comment.
    We wondered why you wouldn’t reach out to them personally?
    Why make it seem like suspicious activities are occurring?
    Why go after the leader, but defend member’s of the group and the activities?
    Everyone knows the procedure in Business and how something like this would be addressed.
    Obviously, you do not view this as business by the route you took.
    So then, is this the way neighbors address neighbors?
    The very neighbor’s that are spending most of their free time, just working to make our lives better to the best of their ability?
    Maybe instead of watching TV (think about how many hours you do watch weekly or whatever your free time is spent doing) Why not take just an hour or two a week, to bring solutions to the table, offer support, work together and listen to one another.

  • It shocks me that Monarch Cares has decided to attack
    Its natural ally,Capo Cares. I would hope that these two organizations, and the communities each represent, could work together. The City seems to have diverted significant resources to City Center as some type of corporate welfare. The developers are back ( for a third go) after losing their ballot measure trying to pressure the City into changing the rules so they can build build build and walk away leaving us without appropriate parking, traffic congestion, and a city that does not benefit the folks who live here. Capo Cares is a grassroots network of good folks like Toni Nelson who are residents and do not take money from developers. Please Monarch Beach join Capistrano Beach in getting the developers out of our city government and working for the benefits of the residents. We are stronger together.

    • Anna: I have not tried to tear Ms. Nelson down, I have congratulated her, she has developed a great grassroots organization. Bad part is, it’s causing damage to the city, we have no development but we spent millions improving downtown, yet nothing. Why would we want developers out of town? They fix things, makes things beautiful, and help in driving up city revenues. I’m just saying this: We are all one but why does a certain part of town consistently call it’s self Capo? We should all root for downtown, MB and Capo people. That’s the joke of my title MB Cares. Enough of the Capo Cares stuff, it’s hurt the city enough already. Great group of people but they are hurting the other 80%.

  • Capo Really Cares? Reply

    I am intrigued at the comments questioning Ms. Nelson’s position with regard to our city council activities and, especially, her ties to the Hill’s and even our own new mayor, Ms. Lewis. I was disheartened to see this Finance Committee appointment because let’s face it, when you control the purse strings you control the agenda. If Ms. Nelson is truly as civic minded as she portends, why doesn’t she run for office openly and transparently as others have done? I have heard rumors she is not a citizen of the USA. Could this true and, therefore, be limiting her ability to transparently affect change in her’s and others’ special interests?

  • Worried in Monarch Beach Reply

    Ms. Nelson,

    Most love your passion for Capistrano Beach, its a shame to see all the things happening there. Its also great to see you fighting to make things better. Unfortunately, its hard to understand how the Measure’s you have supported are actually helping the city. Instead of finding ways to make Capo Beach better, some of these decisions seem to have made the rest of the city worse. Now that you are in a position of power in a public facing role, its fair to ask hard questions regarding the positions you have taken and your decision making abilities.

    By backing Measure H and the Vacationer Referendum, are you surprised that the City now faces a $1,600,000 shortfall?. So many great programs that our residents love are now being cut. Measure H obviously does nothing to help improve Doheny Village, and likely will steer builders away from the area. With the referendum, we drove away tourists and the TOT dollars that they bring. These dollars were meant to pay for improvements though out the city. How do you expect the city to fund these improvements now? Has there been any reduction in the issues you claimed they caused? You have stated that these initiatives were “popular,” is that why you supported them? Are you concerned by the results we now face?

  • Hilarious, CRC?
    Have you even watched a council meeting or attended one? What do you mean by control the purse strings? Who do you think does that? I’am hoping this is an honest mistake, if not,
    Shame on you! This makes you the playground bully hiding behind your computer. I’am so glad that we all have such great senses of humor around here! This is a great city and the people you are trying so desperately to smear, by planting doubt in the readers minds. Well they like most of DP have compassion for all of Dana Point and work to try and make things better. They have a Huge support base, unfortunately most work and care for families and don’t even read this stuff. The part I find the most hilarious is what you’re setting out to do by spreading lies and doubt, is back firing, you’re getting them tons of more supporter’s!
    The most entertaining part of this is…. I’m guessing that you are rearing your ugly head to prepare for campaign for yourself or someone else?
    Just a figure of speech, the ugly head part. I’ve never seen your head.
    So keep it up and I guess thank you, from a strong supporter of all these lovely people you’re trying to smear!

  • It is a shame that those throwing stones refuse to provide their true names and financial interests in the development of City Center. Pitting communities against one another is the new developer game here. The developers were not that savvy with their first two bites at the apple, but that appears to be changing for their third bite at the City Center apple. Dana Point citizens must realize that the developers– and those funded by their special interests are utilizing division and scare tactics to financially benefit themselves.– not the City. Neither Capo Beach nor Monarch Beach have not received the lion’s share of City resources.

    An example: Ever wonder why the City built that beautiful bridge to no where in front of Doheny State Park? Oh… benefit the huge development currently being built across the street. Make no mistake: Developers are here to make money by building, flipping their project and moving on. It is our job to ensure that the projects they develop are appropriate and reasonable for our City,

    Be mindful that the City spent years designating the appropriate height of development in City Center per the Plan. Then, special interests tried to change that by their ballot measure last year. They are now complaining about revenue that they alleged the City would have had but for their failed ballot initiative. Does anyone really believe that plans could be drafted, approved, and developments built in less than a year?

    Dana Point: Be weary of the continual march of these developers and those paid by them.

    • Long-Time Resident Reply

      Ms. Brace: The pedestrian bridge was approved in early 2008, the same year Zephyr Partners, the current developer of the project behind Denny’s, was founded. Zephyr didn’t even purchase the property until 2015, and none of the Council members who approved the pedestrian bridge are currently serving. Are you suggesting some decade long conspiracy by developers and the then City Council to build the bridge? FYI, the advantage of the bridge is that it eliminates a crosswalk and speeds up traffic at a busy intersection.

      Also I find it amusing that you’re complaining about developers pitting one community against another, but you’re pitting developers against everyone else. There are developers in our community of course. Who do you think builds many of the homes we live in, and the offices we work at? You guessed it, developers.

      Also, the Measure H vs Measure I fight was mostly about parking, not height. The Majestic/Raintree project, which partly spurred Measure H, had a variance for an extra story, but is within the height requirement. And another factor motivating Measure H was the relaxed parking requirements the City Council passed in July of 2015 (less parking in return for “shared” parking).

      Another point is that many of us are not alleging that the City is missing out on significant current revenue as a result of Measure H. The Keyser Marston report estimated about $4.45 million in one-time fees and $673K/year in added revenue at full LD build-out. Obviously that wouldn’t happen overnight. As you may know, the City doesn’t have a current deficit, it’s projected we will have a deficit in the future. If Measure H ends up slowing down development by say 10 years, it will cost the City millions, but not tens of millions, in lost revenue over the lifetime of the improvements.

      In my opinion, the one good thing that will come out of Measure H is a reduction in City spending.

      • It again would be helpful to know who is writing and their financial interests in the Dana Point projects. Residents should assume that those making statements without providing their names (1) are not residents and/or (2) have a financial interest in the development of City Center. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they state their true names?

        • Long-Time Resident Reply

          Ms. Brace: Lame comeback, I think that qualifies as an ad hominem argument.

          Before the Measure H/I vote, anti-H and pro-I signs and banners in the LD were being illegally removed or torn down by pro-H supporters on an almost daily basis. In addition, I posted the link to a video of a women removing a “No on H” sign from private property Here is the link again:

          So we have members of the pro-H, anti-growth crowd willing to break the law in order to advance their agenda. Under these circumstances it’s prudent to remain anonymous.

          • Dear Alleged Long Time Resident: Are you afraid someone might steal your Measure I sign from your alleged Dana Point front yard? Silly argument. But it appears I have touched a nerve.

  • Correction: that was “carcass”,not “car ass”. One must keep one’s sense of humor!

    • Mrs. Nelson-

      I am a real person. And I think your heart has always been in the correct place. But this comment below concerns me. Especially as it pertains to your position on the FRC.

      #1- Could you please explain-

      “OK, Jake, keep pounding on that $673K per annum (which is a long term, full build out number) as the answer to all our problems. Don’t you get it? It’s already been spent with this year’s increase in the public safety budget alone.”

      I have seen others reference this sort of concept as if it reduces the importance of this potential revenue stream (I believe Dan the Man specifically)

      Conceptually, that fact that we have budget shortfalls would only increases the importance of bringing in revenue. But you seem to argue, “well, its not real because its already gone” Is that seriously what is going through your mind when making financial suggestions to the council? You don’t forgo potential revenue (actually net income if I read the consulting deliverable correct) because we have budget shortfalls. The current budget has nothing to do with determining the economic loss from Measure H.

      If anything, as a member of the FRC- you should be saying, “that revenue stream did not justify the additional parking hassles” which I would disagree with, but at least understand.

      Here is #2- Id appreciate your thoughts.

      And this is what I believe the real issue is for the FRC. Assuming the consulting firm providing the data was accurate in their calcs- (as in net benefit approx. 600 per year & immediate fees), the present value to Dana Point assuming buildout of the Lantern District is honestly 11-18 Million. That’s math. You can argue the assumptions- but not the very simple financial calculation.

      I think its fair to estimate Measure H reduced development and pushed back development timelines. Even at minimal 50% reduction- smaller buildings / delayed projects (which is actually the big ticket item) you could honestly say that we have reduced that value to the community by more than 5 million.

      Now- here is your issue. If not by development, where are you realistically going to grab 5 million? (or whatever the value of build out is quantified) By nickel and diming concerts in the park? I appreciate that effort, but look, anybody with a 1/2 brain can scroll through a budget and slash some numbers. If you want to fix capo beach anytime soon- you need to turn future value into cash now.

      So here is are two wild suggestions: (and yes I live in Lantern District)

      – Call up Doheny Hotel developer and you yourself push for that project to get executed. Get Ursula and the council to negotiate TOT tax up front as a developer fee and a condition for approval.

      – Work in repealing Measure H and straight across the board Zoning. Zoning which (if your honest) doesn’t represent the original Towncenter zoning. Its actually more harsh.

      – Quantify the present value of the Towncenter buildout. Sell this value (in a form of bonds/note) to someone who has performed significant work in DP. Someone who could make that investment. Someone who needs their own projects approved. (say- someone who could develop some really expensive lots above strands……..)

      Yes these are difficult, but really, how long can you sit and complain without actually producing? At some point complaining that all the money is spent wont do it.

      And one other item. who cares if people use their names? LTR and others have good analysis.

      By the way- what are your top five ideas to get Doheny Village/Capo all fixed up within 3 years?

      • Michael Frost Thankfully, the thoughtful and talented Toni Nelson is on the Financial Review Committee and not you. Her opinions are valued by hundreds of Dana Point residents. Maybe you can get over your Measure H obsession when Rain Tree finally gets their project up and the current blight we have in the Lantern District is gone. Measure H is not the problem.

        What Toni points out is that all the annual tax revenue the Lantern District could ever produce, ($600,000), will be consumed by just the first year of annual 5% increases in the Sheriff’s contract. We would have to create a Lantern District every year to generate the money to pay the annual increase that the Sheriff will be charging at 5% annually on $12 million. The Sheriff’s contract is unsustainable. We need to do something else.

        • Long-Time Resident Reply

          FY 2018 polices services are set to increase 5.28%, but part of that is due to a one-time credit of $255K in FY 2017 that will disappear. Without that it’s about 3%.

          The increase in policing services costs is partly the result of increased demand. Calls for service have gone up from 16.7K in 2014 to > 21K estimated in 2017. Compounded that’s about 8% growth/year.

          What many may not realize is that DP has only 1.1% of OC’s population but collects 4.1% of its TOT. Counting indirect revenue of sales and property tax, our tourists more than pay for our police services. Another factoid is that is that we have more than 3 times the coastline per sq mile of land area compared to San Clemente (ballpark estimate). We collect 5.18x more TOT than SC even though they have almost double the population.

          So in my opinion it would be inadvisable to cut police services without reducing demand. A starting point would be to reduce the over 50 city events / year that use police resources.

          And finally don’t forget the up to 5 hotels that are planned for the Headlands area (outside of the LD). Combined with Raintree (“Prado West”) and the Union Bank project (permits have been pulled per the last Council mtg), the anti-development crowd won a battle with the passage of Measure H, but are going to lose the war.

          2 links in case anyone is interested:
 (2 of the 5 planned Headlands hotels)

          • Thank you LTR for contributing to thoughtful debate about how to finance our city. We need a fair and respectful dialogue about economic and financial data and interpretation of same. Just dont think of me and some of the others who comment here as anti development. We are not.
            Happy Fourth of July!

          • 5-hotels at the Headlands? I knew iof two you mentioned and one smaller one next to the Charthouse, where would the others be developed?

        • Ahhh- that’s the type of detailed feedback and comment consistent from Strands Local. You may disagree with my development focused ideas for growing revenues and balancing the budget in the future- but what is your idea? Cutting Police Services? Ok- but I would rather create some public /private partnerships and grow the community as opposed to reducing Police Services or the community events which are apparently the reason why our services are so high.

          To my knowledge- when reviewing all the comments from everyone within these letters- has anyone provided potential options to improve the budget without cutting police services? That’s all I have seen.

          Oh- one last item- is LTR seriously the only person who can conceptually understand there is value today in future cash flows? Its only a pipe dream because we don’t have the folks who can configure a deal to make it happen.


    • Measure H reaffirms the requirements of the 2008 Town Center Plan approved by residents including the height, floor and parking requirements and that were originally approved by the the California Coastal Commission, The Commission quickly and unanimously approved Measure H.

    • Measure I significantly reduced the parking requirements for developers transferring the burden to taxpayers and neighborhoods and resulting in a zoning change to benefit property owners

    • The 2008 Town Center Plan called for provisions to provide centralized parking before any Town Center improvements were made, but that was not done (pages 53,17, 18 Goal and Policy 4.6)

    • Entitled projects were left undeveloped and other vacant lots existed well before Measure H was passed. The economic report should have been done before $26 million was spent

    • Measure H was passed and Measure I was rejected overwhelmingly by Dana Point residents to prevent the vote of just three council members from allowing developers more variances and concessions

    • Major development is underway: There are three four story buildings with over 100 rental units under construction in Town Center, and major hotel projects are underway on PCH and Green Lantern that will impact traffic and parking


    Restoring fiscal responsibility was a theme in the election campaigns of Mayor Lewis and Mayor Pro Tem Wyatt in 2016. Due to significant deficit spending, the city’s spendable cash fell from $55 million in 2008 to a projected $20 million in 2017. The city projects that the expenditures will outpace revenue within a few years if no action is taken. When spending on capital improvements is included with general fund expenditures, FY 2018-2019 also result in million dollar deficits in both years. Spending is spending regardless of its purpose. .

    Following are the 2016 listed costs for nearby cities that use the Orange County Sheriff Department: Dana Point’s per capita cost is $319, Mission Viejo is $174, San Clemente is $203, San Juan is $232 and Laguna Niguel is $166. Dana Point’s cost is considerably higher. In 2017, the city’s financial report projects a cost of $388. (Cost of $11,893,986 with a Dana Point population of approx. 30,600)

    The FY 2018-2019 budget for police services of $12,344,223 in 2018 and up to $12,946,510 in 2019, an increase of $602,287 in a single year, is approximately 33% of the city’s total yearly projected revenue. Personnel costs consume another major portion of the budget along with other fixed contracts and necessary road and storm drain repairs. If cuts are not made in those areas, what remains are steeper cuts to city services and events that residents enjoy.

    It would be prudent to review the police services contract rather than routinely approving huge increases each year, particularly with the budget restraints mentioned above. Resident services could be improved by reviewing police activities and priorities while looking for possible cost reductions.


    The passage of Measure H gave residents the voice they deserved in the development of their city. The City Council had already passed the parking changes contained in their Measure I, which would have significantly reduced the parking requirements for developers, benefited Town Center property owners and transferred the parking burden to taxpayers and neighborhoods. Their plan had already been submitted to the California Coastal Commission, that delayed approval until the result of the Measure H initiative. Voters hugely approved Measure H and rejected Measure I. Without H, three votes of the City Council could have changed other requirements in the 2008 Town Center Plan approved by Dana Point residents.

    • Measure H reaffirms the requirements of the 2008 Town Center Plan approved by residents including the height, floor and parking requirements
    • Measure I significantly reduced the parking requirements for developers transferring the burden to taxpayers and neighborhoods
    • The 2008 Town Center Plan called for provisions to provide centralized parking before any Town Center improvements were made, but that was not done (pages 53,17, 18 Goal and Policy 4.6)
    • Entitled but undeveloped lots and other vacant lots existed well before Measure H was passed; lot sizes are small
    • Measure H was passed and Measure I was rejected overwhelmingly by Dana Point residents
    • Major development is underway: There are three four story buildings with over 100 rental units under construction in Town Center, and major hotel projects are underway on PCH and Green Lantern that will impact traffic and parking

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