By Betty Hill, Capistrano Beach
Parking will be critical to the success of Town Center to attract the desired shops and restaurants and for the convenience of customers, residents and visitors. Dana Point residents and taxpayers should be aware that the Community Development Department’s recommended changes to the Town Center Plan’s parking requirements will reduce the amount of parking provided by developers and property owners and increase the burden on Dana Point taxpayers to pay for additional parking.
The city’s proposed reduction in required parking spaces for residential units, while at the same time proposing to allow an extra floor for development in the majority of a project, will make projects more profitable for developers but reduce the number of parking spaces that they might otherwise be asking the city to provide at $40,000 per space. The proposed reduction in the retail and restaurant parking requirement and giving away street parking to help meet the requirement means fewer parking spaces will be provided by property owners and retail developers.
The city’s parking plan doesn’t provide new parking spaces in Town Center because the city says existing ones are currently underutilized; but the plan still proposes to lease spaces at taxpayer expense. Rather than prematurely spending taxpayer money, the city should coordinate parking needs as development occurs and when development fees could be applied. Any anticipated expenditure could escalate and become a constant drain on city finances. To make matters worse, the short term nature of the leases means that the city can only hope that spaces will be available in convenient locations when development does occur or when business activity increases.
Wouldn’t it have been prudent to have reserved some of the $20 million of taxpayer money being spent on Town Center palm trees and narrow sidewalks to deal with the parking situation so important to residents and critical to Town Center success? Nelson Nygaard has given the same parking report many times and it is hard to justify continuing to pay them, which will amount to $107,000. The Town Center entry feature being constructed is costing $590,000. Please urge our city leaders to stop the mindless spending at taxpayer expense. You can find more details on the city’s parking plan and proposed zoning changes at www.savedanapoint.com.