Craig Alexander’s letter in the May 6-12 issue of the Dana Point Times praising his friend Bill Brough’s role in Town Center is quite a version of selective memory.
Bill Brough was not on the City Council to spearhead adoption of the Town Center/Lantern District plan back in 2008. He was elected to the Council in 2010. He did “spearhead” on the Council, as Craig likes to put it. Among the actions he spearheaded was the reckless vote in April 2014 to take all the available city funds not in protected reserves and invest them in reworking Del Prado. This was done despite the pleas of citizens and votes of outnumbered Council members who thought this expenditure premature, unnecessary and a bad investment. Time has shown it was everything its opponents said it would be.
The Town Center project was to be phased based on results from incremental improvements. Now we have, by Craig’s accounting, millions sunk into a very small part of Dana Point and no capital for development in other parts of the city, like Capo Beach. Craig bemoans the vacant lots and like so many others on his side of the issue, points at those empty lots as somehow being the future fruit of Measure H. Those lots have been vacant for 85 years and throwing $20 to $30 million at them while under the influence of Bill Brough hasn’t made much of an impact. A ballot measure that has not even been passed is not the problem and will not be a problem. Projects designed within the envelope that Measure H defines are already in the development pipeline and thus evidently quite workable.
Another vote that Brough spearheaded was the decision to overturn a Planning Commission decision and ignore the protests of hundreds of residents about a project that was too tall, too dense and not adequately parked. Brough’s “leadership” brought us the Majestic (now Raintree) project, with 109 apartment units on 2.2 acres. Intense residential development is not what the Town Center Plan envisioned. Majestic is precisely why the community had to put forward Measure H. Bill Brough didn’t care because he was moving on to the State Assembly, with campaign contributions from the local development community.
Nor apparently did he care if city resources were misused and major legal expense was incurred on his watch, as the city stepped into a private party’s contractual dispute and turned it into the Strands Gate lawsuit against the city. The city lost four times in court with an indefensible case and Brough was along for the ride on most of it. The Mayor and City Manager like to spin the $300,000 fine assessed against the city by the Coastal Commission as some kind of generous investment in marine education for underprivileged students. It really is a fine, a punitive sanction, and part of the $500,000 or even $1 million the city is on the line for as a result of this disastrous legal case. Brough was there for most of it.
Brough’s governing style fits well with the Measure I people, who want to excuse developers from providing adequate parking for their projects and push the burden on to taxpayers for the parking assets that will have to be bought or built. Although he claims to be a real conservative, he is great at spending other people’s money. The pattern he “spearheaded” is what we still see going on in Dana Point today. Some people call it crony capitalism.
Contrary to Craig’s assertion, there is no “empty lots measure.” The people telling that story want to make more money on the backs of Dana Point taxpayers. They are the friends of Bill Brough. Vote yes on H to stop the exploitation of our city and its taxpayers.