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By Steve Stewart, Dana Point
Carlos’s deceptive guest opinion in the Feb. 19 edition of this paper deserves a response. While it was wrong on many levels I will just hit the high points.
First: Why did he cast a vote against the deceptive new city initiative during the council meeting Feb. 2 and then turn around and write an article praising that very same initiative on Feb. 19? If it was wrong on Feb. 2, why is it right now? Or did he just make a mistake when he voted “no” in the first place? He should have explained his contradictory actions in his article.
Carlos dissembles about the real purpose behind the 2015 Town Center Initiative in his article. He knows that the 2015 Initiative is on the ballot because over 4,200 Dana Point residents are fighting back. They want building height in Town Center limited to 40 feet and three stories, as called for in the 2008 Town Center plan.
They want buildings that combine retail/commercial space with residential use and adequate levels of parking for all. Instead we are getting buildings that are overwhelming residential, the prime example being the three enormous Majestic buildings, each with elevator towers up to 58 feet in height and four stories, putting 109 condos and their residents on 2.2 acres in down town. Generous parking variances were granted to the developer to make the deal even sweeter.
Voters are righteously upset that Carlos and other councilmen voted to ignore our Town Center Plan and override their own Planning Commission when they approved plans for these buildings in 2014. After Carlos was elected mayor, he led a vote to fire the objecting Planning commissioners and appoint his own hand-picked commissioners. Now he and three other current city council members are offering their own deceptive initiative to nullify the intent of the 2015 Initiative endorsed by so many voters. Why? If their initiative is approved they will have carte blanche to do whatever they want in Town Center, now renamed the Lantern District.
Voters should also know that in 2014, Carlos voted with councilmen Steven Weinberg and Bill Brough to spend over $20 million of city funds on street improvements for Del Prado and PCH, claiming the road work and streetscape expenditure would help create a vibrant commercial district. Their rationale was that if we just changed the streets, businesses would come to PCH and Del Prado. Instead traffic is now arguably worse and we are getting a condo district instead of tax revenue generating business. On top of that, the development impact fees generated from projects built in the Lantern District will ultimately pay back only 15 percent of the money that the city spent on the Lantern District streets. How will we ever get our misspent $20 million investment back? We won’t. What did we get for our money? Condos and traffic.
Please vote “no” on the city’s ballot measure on June 7 and remember to let Carlos know how you feel about his decisions when you vote at the polls this November.
[box style=”rounded”]EDITOR’S NOTE: To clarify the 58-foot height measurements allowed as part of the Majestic project: There are three elevator/utility shafts (one on each of three buildings) that measure 54, 57 and 58 feet. The Town Center Plan and building code, without variances, allow for elevators to provide ADA access to the rooftops. The elevator towers rise 14, 17 and 18 feet, respectively, above the 40-foot maximum building height. The towers take up less than 500 square feet (less than 1 percent) of the 70,000 square feet of roof space. According to plans, all three towers are set back at least 5 feet from the street-front sides of the buildings and are situated so as not to block ocean views from adjacent properties. Also allowed without a variance, are screening for rooftop mechanical equipment and rooftop perimeter walls, both at 42 inches. There were no height variances granted to the Majestic project. Regarding the four-story buildings: The areas of the project that have four stories contain four levels of residences within the 40-foot height limit and are the same height (40 feet) as the three-story sections. The three-story sections will house 18-foot retail spaces on the ground level, topped with two stories of residential. [/box]