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Nadia Starner, Capistrano Beach

Our coastal demise started after seeing the DP Times front page with “Raintree construction’s project.” How did this get approved? A project that provides over population and congestion is beyond me.

The renderings looked so similar to Irvine, Anaheim and many cities with high density multi-use properties. The city catered to developers that have more interest in a metropolitan lifestyle than a coastal lifestyle. The Planning Department should be concerned more for the existing community and preserving the coast in all development and not what the developer wants. The rendition shows no coastal town, no beauty, character, charm or history. The landscape makes such a difference to visitors that travel for beauty and charm; this is where they will invest dollars. Unless the idea is to keep the tourists out while over populating the town and removing the charm.

Paradise as it was seen from pictures of my parent’s younger years of the late 1940s and 1950s was charming and filled with California history and surfing, which was an image that is slowly diminishing. A friend who works at a Dana Point hotel said many tourists ask, “What is Dana Point’s history?” I’m amazed with all the marketing that our city is producing doesn’t scream our history; Richard Henry Dana, Doheny, Hobie, surfing, The Pilgrim. The city is tearing down history and new development shows no signs of it, not even in art placed around town. Instead of showing ideas of a metro mess and many events that trash our beaches, they give no story and no economic lift to the community. Preserving the past and allowing development that expresses this can only be a plus for all. Visitors love charm and uniqueness and character, not multi-use high density buildings that box away the ocean, only serving the people that live in the apartments. If a metropolitan city is what a tourist is looking for then let it not be our coast.

Since community development does not look out for the community and instead is accommodating developers, Capo Beach’s future should not be one of massive high-density development. Check the post office for the city’s planning department postings of any new requests of development changes to our communities that affect our lifestyle and coastal neighborhoods forever.

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (18)

  • Nadia, thanks for sharing your perspective. I was attracted by the laid back charm of south county as well,

    Are you against all development in the city?

    What type of development projects do you think would be good for the city?

    I think that the city would improve if the vacant lots and run down buildings were improved.

    Moreover, I live in a neighborhood that would not be here if it wasn’t for development, I eat at restaurants and shop in stores that wouldn’t be there if not for development.

    • Shevy,

      My husband has stated the same thing. He has been here since ’81 and there are lots of homes, shops and restaurants that are driving our economy here that would not be here if not for development. This City would not be here if not for development. Most of the people who bought their homes in the ’60s for $50,000 would not have their homes worth $1-3 million if not for the development in the City, and then complaining about how young families can’t afford to move in to this City, but are not willing to sell their home at a lower value for those families to be able to afford to live here. Could you imagine?

      How do you expect the land owners in the Lantern District, who are just land owners and not developers, to sell their land at such a high value and then not expect the person buying it to not make money on their investment? That is how this works. That is how the economy grows. That is how we get rid of the empty lots. You have to have someone that has enough money to bankroll the whole project. Regular Joe Shmoe on the street doesn’t have that, so who does? Who can bankroll these things? Developers. So what are we left with? Empty lots or someone who is able to afford to build and be able to get their investment back. Mom and Pop shops don’t have that kind of money. We wish they did, but they don’t. Land owners are not willing to sell the plot of land they bought in the ’50s for dirt cheap, they have a premium on the lot, that makes it difficult for the ROI on a smaller more quaint building non-existant.

      We cannot move somewhere and expect it to never change, that isn’t how any of this works. Any where you go there is going to be change. Especially in Southern California where people are flocking and there is an extreme housing shortage. Anyone can see that. Look at the homeless, look at the affordable housing that you are considered for if you make $73k as a single person! That is crazy!

      Well that got off to a tangent. Anyways, bottom line, I get the need for “responsible development” but this is also an ever changing world and what “responsible development” is to one person, it is not to another, so I appreciate you asking those questions and a very thoughtful response.

  • Dreaming of the past, as the old buildings crumble, the homeless take over vacant buildings, the infrastructure falls apart and we end up looking like Santa Cruz?Which is a dump. Maybe that is what Capo people want, but most of DP would like too see nice buildings, nice infrastructure and built out lots.

    Also, its called population growth, where do you put the newcomers or is it just the elites on the coast who can live here, or the folks who got mommy and daddy’s house and never want to leave? Mix use development is for all, new development is for all and the whole notion of living in the past is just a dream. Now it’s time too wake up, build out and make DP a five start city.

  • I like the new design. I’m a MidCentury design fan and this is kind of a modern version of that. I know this is I the eye of the beholder but I find a lot of the design of Dana Point very 70s looking and I’m no fan of that. I moved to DP for a lot of reasons but the architecture of the business districts was not one of them.

  • Nadia- good point. I was walking north just past this project this morning, thinking of this design and how it ruined the beauty, history and architectural significance of the Lantern District commercial area. This project when compared to the immediately adjacent lifeguard box, radio shack strip mall, and the tourist destination drive-through taco bell will bring shame upon old Mr. Woodruff. The only hope that I have at this point is the potential opportunity to stamp a historical plaque on the UPS Store and the Circle K. If we do that- we may be able to save tourism.

    Apologize for the above response, but give me a break. I live just down the street and am very excited for this. Yes, its marketing material we are looking at, but if the end product looks like this we will be very happy.

    For those of us who live in the lantern village, and are familiar with the community issues (so not the originator of this letter) this project should create the economic incentive for the folks who own the junk properties near PCH (think alleyway San Moreno) to rehab or even potentially convert their apartments to condos.

  • Nadia, you do realize the Town Center plan calls for high density multi-use, similar to areas like 3rd-street promenade in Santa Monica and SOMA in San Francisco? This has nothing to do with the planning department caving to developers.

    The Town Center Plan has wide support across the city, the biggest issue has been with regards to parking. Personally I believe building garages would be a bad idea if we were truly forward thinking. With services like Uber growing in popularity, I suspect over time less people will drive into the town center vs being dropped off.

  • I have lived in Dana Point on Violet Lantern for 20 years. This project is the best thing to happen to downtown since I’ve lived here. I think the new developer has done a great job of addressing some of the naysayers comments while keeping the project moving forward. Hats off to the City and anyone there who helped. I can’t wait to see this thing happen. I may move in if there are any spots available. I know many of my neighbors feel the same way about this project too. I think more of us need to speak up and perhaps we will see more projects to follow this one. Dana Point is a great City and I am not sad to see the dilapidated buildings in downtown removed for something fresh with a bunch of new shops.

  • Nadia, “preserving the past” as you say made me think of what Mr. Woodruff may have envisioned when he began developing Dana Point some 90 years ago. Sydney planned a bluff-top hotel with a large bar to entertain not only the guests, but visitors too. The arches of his grand hotel can be seen to this day on our harbor bluffs. Sydney built a pier in Stillwater Bay, and graded streets for housing and retail development – all clearly disturbing the natural setting.

    Mr. Woodruff was part of a development syndicate that built Hollywood(land), and had clearly wanted Dana Point to be (put the drum roll here)… a.TOURIST DESTINATION.

    I chuckle thinking that Mr. Woodruff would be attacked in today’s internet-based information exchanges where there is no accountability to provide facts. Today’s nimbys that have benefitted from his vision conveniently forget the past, would say he was ruining the character of “their” community, and would meanly call him a big, bad developer.

    Sydney Woodruff’s dream was thwarted by the Great Depression – he ended up with some developed parcels and a lot of vacant lots. How do we as a community honor his dream that should be our present and still can be our future, and develop (yes I used a bad word) the vacant lots?

  • I could be wrong, but it seems that the author doesn’t want more people moving here, as in:

    “A project that provides over population

    “The renderings looked so similar to Irvine, Anaheim and many cities with high density

    “Unless the idea is to keep the tourists out while over populating the town”

    “Visitors love charm and uniqueness and character, not multi-use high density buildings”

    “Capo Beach’s future should not be one of massive high-density development.”

  • Is it just me or does the Dana Point Times run three anti-growth, pro Capo Cares, letters for every one pro-growth story? Sure seems that way and it sure seems that most comments are for pro-growth.

    And, as I have stated at least 4 times in the last few months – Capo Cares people should love being in DP, they receive 42% of the Capital Expenditures and only pay roughly 10-15% of the bill.. When will the donor neighborhoods be treated in the same regards?

    • I agree it seems that way, but my understanding is that those who are pro-growth aren’t writing in so how are they supposed to run something they don’t have? Haven’t you ever noticed that once one “pro” letter is written, the outrage that certain people have that DP Times would even dare to run such a thing? The Capo Cares anti-growth contingent has been so vocal, and those who are “pro” are tired of being called names so they don’t write in. If you write it, DP Times will put it in. But I could be wrong.

      • Hi Sue; I think you nailed it, the Capo Cares Group is incredibly aggressive, moreover, they are not above name calling, lying, or out right making things up to support whatever their point of view is or to intimidated people that don’t agree with them. .

        I had some communication with them a bit over a year ago and it was a reminder of everything I don’t like about politics.

        As much as I wanted to believe that they wanted what was best for the city, it was clear they only cared about what was in it for them at any cost.

        Too much drama for most people. Turning the other cheek and not writing more letters to the editor etc. is/will be incredibly costly, it’s still very hard to justify trying to have a reasonable debate with them.


        • It is too much drama. You don’t have to go much further than the Mayor’s post on her Facebook page yesterday about the Council being heartless to see that. The Save Dana Point and Capo Cares groups, although I too believe they want what they think is best for the City, are the biggest offenders of if someone doesn’t agree they are name calling and bringing drama into the issues. (Stealing signs from front yards, telling people to shop on Amazon and not go to a local small business because they don’t agree with their side, seems like a lot of drama that most don’t want or even have time for.) The is crying foul if a Councilman says something about the way she votes and then when they don’t agree with her she calls them heartless on her Facebook page… without trying to see it from another side.

          This is just too childish and too much drama for most people to get involved and want to be part of the circus. Which is a shame because then the loud minority wins and we loose more great opportunities that are in this town.

          • Long-Time Resident

            Yes, in her July 21 opinion piece, Mayor Lewis decried,

            posts on social media are filled with gratuitous personal swipes aimed at residents


            We all have far too much invested in the health and well-being of our city to allow those who hurl personal insults against residents and pit neighbor against neighbor to tear us apart.

            Yet less than a month later, she calls the City Council majority (Tomlinson, Muller, and Viczorek) heartless on her “lewisfordp” facebook page,

  • I don’t find Capo Cares that onerous but I’ll admit I haven’t analyzed it as much as some seem to have. I do know they are organized, have an agenda and many supporters. If they’ve engaged in intimidation as a group, that could easily be outed in a letter to the DP Times and/or OC Register, as well as at city council meetings. I chose to look at events directly and use info as available. If I don’t get good info, what am I supposed to do? Info is not telling me the “other side” that being either side, is stealing lawn signs or anything at that level. In the MeasureH/Measure I wars of 2016, the obfuscation and horrible presentations by both sides was horrible IMO. Anyway, just telling me the other guy’s are rotten or crooked wasted my time. Even the Capo Cares topic doesn’t help me decide if I want a modernized improved business district. I think DP could use a big upgrade in amenities and businesses as well as architecture to join the several recent really brilliant business that have appeared in the last few years.

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