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By Patricia O’Keefe, Capistrano Beach

For the past two years, Capo Cares, a neighborhood advocacy group for Capistrano Beach with over 850 members, and of which I am a co-founder, has been attending City Council meetings, month after month, asking Council to put the Doheny Village Plan back on the agenda. Capo Cares members have advocated tirelessly for changes in Capo Beach. More importantly, they have advocated time and again for a reserve fund for Doheny Village and have worked tirelessly to organize residents and force Council to pay some attention to this long-neglected area.

So when Council and the Planning Commission asked for candidates for the Doheny Village Form Based Code Committee, Capo Cares members and residents eagerly and whole-heartedly applied for the role. Doheny Village has long been neglected, and we know that it could be the pride and joy of the neighborhood with proper planning. Capo Cares about Doheny Village!

Can you imagine that, with all the work Capo residents have put into making the Doheny Village Plan a reality, the four City Council and Planning Commission representatives chose a three-year resident of the Lantern District as the sole resident candidate? The Lantern District? Not a member of Capo Cares, nor even a resident of Capistrano Beach?

We can thank Councilman Rick Viczorek for suggesting—and successfully passing a resolution to the effect—that the sole resident on the committee should come from Dana Point at large, and not necessarily from Capistrano Beach, even though those residents are the most affected by and passionate about Doheny Village.

How would it have been received had the sole at-large resident on the Town Center Committee (actually, there were 13 resident participants) been selected not from the affected area, but from Capo Beach? Not well received, we’re sure. And Council wonders why the people of Capistrano Beach continue to feel like neglected “stepchildren?”

Shame on the four people charged with the selection process: Mayor John Tomlinson, a Capo Beach resident (who was elected partly by the efforts of a fledgling Capo Cares, whose members believed he would represent community interests); Councilman Joe Muller (who was demonstrably reluctant to serve on the committee); Planning Commissioner Danni Murphy, also of Capistrano Beach; and Planning Commissioner, Scott McKhann.

Capistrano Beach residents wonder if it reflects the true intentions of City Council—to continue spending money in the Lantern District while perpetuating the decades-long neglect of Doheny Village and Capistrano Beach.

Capo Cares is a grassroots organization of Capistrano Beach residents, businesses and agencies, devoted to enhancing our historic and beautiful little beach town. Contact us at

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (5)

  • Honestly, how exactly can the City justify selecting an at-large-resident out of the Capistrano Beach zip code for a Capo Beach restoration? This is a lame disregard to the value of local residents, and another way to keep treating CB like such an unwanted child. It’s such a slap in the face to the people of Capo Cares who have stepped up, and taken things out of automatic, to help their hometown move forward into 2016 while embracing what makes the neighborhood safe, quiet, and quaint.

    Why does the City of Dana Point have such disdain for the community here? My husband and I have owned our home here for approximately 3 years, and felt that vibe pretty quickly. I don’t think number of years you’ve resided necessarily represents the value you can add to a development project – I care quite a bit about Capo Beach. But it makes no sense to select a non-Capistrano Beach resident who has nothing invested into the actual culture *here* for the people who live, use public schools, eat, and want to shop in this very unique area of DP. I’ve noticed the City gives Capo residents little appeasements to hold them over, but never real consideration or respect.

    Dana Point’s culture is significantly different in all ways – architecture, history, etc. I just fear that the Cape Cod vibe is going to bleed over so far so that the Doheny/Spanish-style history here will be wiped out completely. But, maybe that’s the City’s hope and intention since time and time again it appears that the City Council despises Capistrano Beach?

  • That’s so unfair to Capo Beach! We all know how hard you’ve worked to get a rehab of Doheny Village on the table. That place is an embarrassment to everyone in Dana Point and should have been fixed years ago. Now you get it moving and the Council and Planning Commission give you the cold shoulder? How insensitive can they be? Hard to believe two of them actually live in the neighborhood and don’t get that not one but several residents of the area should have been on that committee. How does Lantern District get 13, and Capo doesn’t even get one? And the one resident allowed comes from Council’s favorite place — the Lantern District!? This was both crazy and completely insulting. Talk about making you feel like Cinderella. It may take a new Council to get the support for this wonderful area to be all it can be. Don’t give up. Support candidates that will respect all citizens and ALL areas of Dana Point — not just the Lantern District.

  • Any bets Mueller and Tomlinson try to pretend their presence on the code committee means they really care about Doheny Village? We all know better and they’ve created a public record to prove their neglect and disdain. Can’t believe the Mayor did this to his own neighborhood.

  • Thank you Patricia at CapoCares for articulating what so many Capistrano Beach Residents, Townies, Locals etc. feel. I have lived here 25 + years and was coming down here in my teens to a place that was not yet discovered by many. Does seniority give me more of a say?? Maybe I would have thought that in the past but I have met numerous residents who discovered our jewel in their time and have fallen in love with this city at first sight. They got involved and have worked tirelessly fighting for a city they love. So, who should have a say on this committee? Someone who really cares and understands the feelings of all who live here in Capistrano Beach!! Yes, like a body there are many parts to Dana Point and we are one of them…but I like to think we are the heart….

    • Thank you for that beautiful comment, Theresa! Yes, we ARE the heart and soul of Dana Point, and that heart is breaking over the fact that now that we’re poised to finally revitalize Doheny Village, there’s no money left for infrastructure improvements. We’re going to need a Council that will get creative and do some zero based budgeting to tighten our collective belts and rebuild the City treasury. Almost all surplus funds have gone to the Lantern District over the past 8 years and there’s no real surplus left to fund any other area. As of 3/31/16, the City only has $2.5 million in unassigned funds and they expect another operating deficit this year of $1.1 million. How will we ever rebuild City coffers if we keep spending more than we take in?

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