Barbara Wilson, Dana Point

Jay Sowell’s April 14 letter comes at a very important time, with two crucial events about to occur that will affect the economic health of our city.

The city’s two-year budget is to be adopted in June and a new city manager will soon be hired.

Residents should be very concerned about how our current acting city manager/CFO has signed off on consecutive annual deficits. For most of the last several years, operating and capital expenditures consistently exceeded revenues. Our CFO is projecting sufficient funding for only essential capital expenses for this fiscal year. The question is whether past overspending will make it impossible to pay for other important capital projects such as parking solutions for the Lantern District, park improvements and Doheny Village upgrades.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Wyatt presented an analysis of two similar cities and found that our expenditures far outpaced theirs in every department during the April 18 City Council meeting. At that same meeting, a member of the Finance Review Committee (FRC) tried to warn the Council of the financial challenges posed by deficit spending and dwindling spendable cash. Councilmen Muller, Viczorek and Tomlinson, rather than thanking her for the information, spent an inordinate amount of time discussing whether her appearance would violate the Brown Act. (The city attorney agreed that it was not an issue since it was a publicly noticed meeting.)

Are we falling into the same dilemma as in the story of the “Emperor with No Clothes?” His subjects are afraid to tell him the truth, so he can continue believing he has a magnificent wardrobe.

These same three Councilmen have stymied Mayor Debra Lewis’ and Wyatt’s efforts to join a taskforce with neighboring cities to share ideas as to how to reduce expenses and solve common problems. If information is empowerment, why are these Council members satisfied with the status quo?

I urge all who care about the financial wellbeing of our city to write to Council members, to attend Council and FRC meetings (or view online), so you can be aware of the issues at stake.

The elephant in the room is that we have serious financial issues. Instead of working on solutions, our three legacy Councilmen do all they can to ignore it. We also need a new city manager who will bring fresh thinking and new policies to our city and overcome the missteps of his predecessors.

To submit a letter to the editor, email editorial@danapointtimes.com.

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comments (11)

  • We have known for years the developers OWN Dana Point, and past council members have used DP to further their political carreer’s

  • The group known to take money from developers is Buck and Betty Hill and the Measure H crew when they used the biggest developer in town Stanford Edward of the Headlands development. The Hill’s had Edwards fund out of town signature gatherers for their referendum against short term rentals.

  • To Mrs. Brown,

    Dana Point residents should be concerned about any of our city councilmen who may have accepted money from developers or special interest groups. Developers and special interests were also major contributors to Measure I, passed by Councilmen Tomlinson, Viczorek and Muller, and obviously were not contributors to Measure H.

    The Short Term Rental Ordinance was the worst piece of legislation ever passed by any Dana Point city council and benefited the rental industry including Airbnb. Opposition was growing as the Ordinance became known to Dana Point residents. The city council unexpectedly moved up the previously announced date to consider its passage leaving residents about two weeks afterward to begin collecting over 2,000 signatures needed to pass the Referendum. The city council probably felt it couldn’t possibly be done.

    But residents collected over 2,100 signatures. However, there was no time before the deadline to verify that there were enough signatures to ensure passage; so residents decided to accept a donation from a developer, who had a hotel site and was concerned about Airbnb, for signature gatherers with absolutely no conditions or expectations attached. Residents were so opposed to the Ordinance that approximately 4,000 signatures were sent to the Orange County Register of Voters to easily pass the Referendum.

  • Don’t believe me, that’s fine. Ask Buck and Betty.

  • Don’t believe me, ask Buck and Betty Hill.

    • Shawn Brown follows in Mr. Killebrew’s footsteps by attacking the messenger, hoping to distract us from the facts. Killebrew offered no factual rebuttal to Mayor Lewis’ concerns about city finances, and Brown offers no actual facts, either.
      The disdain that people like Brown and Killebrew hold for the citizens of Dana Point is breathtaking. How stupid do they think we are?

  • Shawn’s comment is deceptive. The Hills worked with Edward to gather signatures and stop the STR ordinance last year. So did a lot of other people that knew the damage poorly regulated STR could cause in Dana Point.
    That is way different then the support that council members Muller, Viczorek, Tomlinson, Brough, Olvera, Bartlett, Schoeffel, and Weinberg have put behind Edward interests. They in turn benefited from Edward supporting their candidacy. Now Dana Point has lost nearly $2 million on unsuccessful litigation fighting the Coastal Commission and defending Sanford Edward’s interests. That is the real scandal not anything the Hills did in standing up for Dana Point.

  • I'm Apparently Naive Reply

    I always thought GAP accounting was inarguable. Silly me.

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