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Steve Stewart, Dana Point

It is interesting to see that Mayor Carlos Olvera is concerned about his public image regarding water conservation (per his letter to the editor in last week’s issue of the Dana Point Times).

Unfortunately, he does not show the same concern for how Dana Point residents and voters view his City Council votes. In 2013 and 2014, he voted to spend $20 million of our city reserves on Pacific Coast Highway and Del Prado road and streetscape construction related to the Town Center Plan. That did not improve driving conditions on PCH, in fact, quite the contrary.

In October 2014, he voted to grant egregious height and parking variances to the massive Majestic project, overriding the Planning Commission and our existing zoning standards for height and parking. Anyone who has seen the height and volume elevations for this project knows how out of scale and inappropriate this project will be for our city. Let us all hope it isn’t built.

Soon he will have to vote on requiring developers to supply adequate parking for their Town Center developments. Expect parking responsibility to be transferred from the developers to the taxpayers. If approved, the economic value lost by our city due to those parking concessions may well exceed the amount dumped into PCH and Del Prado, not to mention the inconvenience to all of us who might need to park in the Town Center area. Dana Point residents need to wake up and realize what a hole we are digging for our city as a result of these decisions. Mayor Carlos Olvera is concerned about what you think about his water position. Let him know how you feel about the rest of what he is voting for.

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comments (9)

  • Long-Time Resident Reply

    Before the Lantern District transformation, there were 4 lanes on PCH going north, and 3 lanes on del Prado going south. Currently with construction on del Prado, there are 2 northbound lanes and 2.5 southbound lanes, counting del Prado southbound as 1/2 a lane due to stop signs. When completed there will be 2.5 both northbound and southbound.

    So in going from a total of 7 lanes to 5 lanes, driving conditions are not going to improve. That was not the point of the development. One of the Lantern District’s goals is to make a more pedestrian-friendly environment by slowing down traffic and having more restaurants and shops where people can transact business locally.

    When the project is completed, and if traffic is heavy, just take an alternate route to your destination if you don’t need to stop at one of the local businesses.

  • Anybody who cares about water conservation, walkable downtown and preserving historic buildings is clearly wrong? Anyway I support mayor Olvera for making this a nice town to grow old in. Thanks!

    • Your comments miss the point of my letter. If he cares about water conservation, walkable downtown and preservation that is commendable.

      Many people wish the Mayor cared about conservation of the city’s financial position. He voted to spend nearly all available city reserve funds on PCH and Del Prado, without phasing and waiting for developers to show up with projects. What purpose that benefits most city residents was accomplished by that? Developers are now relieved of almost any obligation to pay back the infrastructure costs we incurred with $20 million in city funds and $6.5 million in South Coast Water ratepayer investments made in this project.

      Many people are appalled at the size and height of the Majestic project which he voted to approve over the pleas of many in our community who wanted him to respect the Town Center plan as adopted. Many people thought this massive project ended when the Planning commission rejected it. Instead he voted to overturn the Planning commission’s sensible decision against Majestic and approved variances for Majestic that allow building heights never before seen in this community.

      When elected Mayor he voted to get rid of several long term Planning commission members and appoint new commissioners. The two planning commissioners not terminated by Carlos and his friends on the council live so close to the Town Center project that they have to recuse when related matters are discussed. That essentially gives us a three member planning commission. How convenient. The new three member commission just voted to approve a parking plan that relieves developers of the responsibility to provide adequate parking for their projects.

      People in this town are getting a clear picture of where the Mayor’s priorities lie. In my opinion they are not with the best interests of our community.

      • EDITOR’S NOTE: The Planning Commission does not have the legislative power to approve the proposed changes to the Town Center/Lantern District Plan’s parking policies. The Planning Commission voted to move the item forward to City Council for consideration.

    • DanaPointer- Are you commenting to the right post? This is a parking article. Did you mean to comment on the water article?

      (1) Mayor Olvera initially commented that water conservation is ineffective. His comment suggested that Dana Point residents didn’t need to conserve water and flew in the face of our state and local water board’s conservation efforts. An article corrected him, pointing out that the Mayor Olvera was mistaken as to the facts.

      (2) What do historic buildings have to do with a conversation about how Mayor Olvera advocates reducing parking?

      (3) Who is against a walkable Town Center? It seems to me that Mayor Olvera’s position of reducing parking spaces for restaurants from 10 spots to 2 suggests he is against a walking district along with his supporters. If people can’t park then how are they going to get to Town Center to walk around in the first place? I’m pro a walkable Town Center and pro parking so we ca get there.

      We need new politicians who can offer common sense solutions to the problems this city council majority has created. We also need actual leadership from someone who can come up with solutions to problems.

      It’s easy to vote to spend money like Mayor Olvera has done. It’s hard to keep healthy reserves and harder still to spend our city’s money wisely. These are things Mayor Olvera has failed to do. It’s time for a change.

  • Thanks, Steve, for bringing this to the voter’s attention. I, for one, haven’t been paying attention to the way our current Mayor has been voting – and for that we voters may well pay dearly.

    I remember when those trees went up on PCH, I thought to myself with all the other needed things for DP, why these trees. The parking issue is a hot button for sure and I will make sure that others know about it. Thanks again.

  • One of the great things about a voting record is that it is something you can’t hide from. One only has to look at the details of the Town Center infrastructure approvals by our former city council to see what their priorities were with water conservation in that instance. A significant item that has gone largely unnoticed was the former council including Mayor Olvera’s vote to not install recycled water infrastructure in the Town Center.

    On December 12, 2014 former councilman Bill Brough wrote a piece in the Dana Point Times recapping his accomplishments. At the top of the list was moving the Town Center Plan forward, and by voting with Mayor Olvera and Steven Weinberg to NOT install recycled water pipes in the area saving the city $700,000 in a program that was costing the city over $20,000,000. This shortsighted action leaves the city with no recycled water to irrigate all of the landscaping along PCH and Del Prado. The solution, purchase water trucks and pay to have this all done essentially by hand, forever. What is even more disturbing is that this vote and action happened during the biggest drought on record. Below are excerpts from Mr. Brough’s guest opinion,

    “Town Center—The council revived our Town Center plan, which had sat dormant since 2008. In 2013, we re-engineered the plan, saving millions by removing recycled water lines and installing drought tolerant date palms. I am proud to have worked with Councilmen Carlos Olvera and Steven Weinberg to get Town Center done.”

    The amount saved by not installing the recycled water pipe was actually closer to $700,000 not the millions stated by Mr Brough. So, for a savings of about 3.5% of the total infrastructure costs Dana Point is stuck forever with an ongoing cost of maintaining, staffing and deploying trucks to water our street landscape in the Town Center. Shortsighted perhaps only begins to describe this action.

  • I didn’t realize that the City Council decided against installing recycled water lines in Town Center to save $700,000. Is this the same City Council that voted to spend $590,000 on the Lantern District entry feature? How about the “value engineering” that saved money by making the sidewalks too narrow to accomplish the pedestrian appeal of the Town Center Plan? Where is the logic in these decisions?

    • Spending by the 2013-2014 city council, under the influence of the Town Center committee and certain local developer interests, was reckless and incompetent. There is more information about their financial profligacy coming out soon. I wonder how Mayor Carlos Olvera expects to be reelected with this record. It will be a topic of conversation in this town for a long time.
      The present council will be under a lot of pressure to stop the giveaways and pay attention to other parts of our city, like Doheny Village.

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