The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the DP Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.

Gary P. Mann, Monarch Beach

A guest visiting downtown Dana Point recently said it looks like “a beachside version of Detroit.” Fifteen years ago city leaders re-envisioned what we could be, it certainly wasn’t this. After a decade of work with the community, the Town Center Plan passed with wide support.

Recently Capo Cares and Save Dana Point groups loudly decried development and spending. People like Debra Lewis and Paul Wyatt convinced us that we’d soon look like Irvine and that city spending was rampant. Each had barely lived here, yet they were experts on all that was wrong. Ms. Lewis loves to bemoan the increased spending since 2007. Why is this surprising? 2007 was the Great Recession and tourism, our number one tax source, was dead. As the economy improved, City Council invested to capitalize on the economic boom. Unfortunately Lewis, Wyatt, Capo Cares and Save Dana Point then delivered Measure H. We are now stuck with ballot box zoning and a ghost town of empty lots. Yet, ironically they place blame, claiming our past Council spent “unwisely” on Town Center infrastructure. With no new revenue sources, they are cutting programs like the Symphony, the State BBQ Championship & the Grand Prix.** I’m certain that summer concerts and Whale Parade are next. Some are even calling for police cuts, while asking them to enforce a smoking ban. I have to wonder if this is what our citizens expected or do they feel, like me, bamboozled?

*Editor’s Note: The proposed budget has not been voted on by City Council, and therefore events could remain funded by the city. The City Council is scheduled to have a budget hearing on Tuesday, June 20.

To submit a letter to the editor, email

Trustworthy, accurate and reliable local news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsroom by making a contribution and becoming a subscribing member today.

About The Author DP Times

comments (9)


    The passage of Measure H made into law the requirements of the 2008 Town Center Plan approved by the residents, particularly in regard to the height and number of floors allowed and the parking requirements it contained. Because Measure H reaffirmed what the California Coastal Commission had already approved, the Commission quickly and unanimously approved Measure H.

    Measure I sought to substantially reduce the parking requirements for developers. The 2008 Town Center Plan had required that the city provide for centralized parking locations before any Town Center improvements should begin, but that wasn’t done. Measure I intensified the parking burden on Dana Point taxpayers. That is why Save Dana Point and Dana Point residents overwhelming supported Measure H and opposed Measure I.

    Regarding development, three four story buildings are under construction in Town Center with over 100 rental units. The Bevmo opened and the Union Bank project was approved. Projects and hotels are under construction or seeking approval on PCH and nearby streets, All will have a huge impact on traffic and parking.

    Overseeing how a city spends its money is the most important responsibility of all city councils. Our city council must now make some tough decisions to keep the city from spending more than it receives in income. The sooner and more responsibly this is done, the less the impact will be on the city services residents enjoy now and in the future.

  • Measure H and Measure I were 2 awful options for our city. Ultimately Measure H passed and we have to live with it. The two “faces” of the measure now sit on our city council as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Measure H has unquestionably slowed the build out. Even Raintree seems to be stalled, I have seen little to no work being done there in months. I’m sure rents will be way less than they were expecting, since no one else is building. There has also been no movement on the build out at Union Bank. Sanford Edward’s finally sold his lots on the north end of the LD, but who knows what will happen there. Fact Checker, are you aware of any new projects that has been approved in the town center since Measure H passed? There are a lot of rumors, but nothing concrete. Also, can you show us where in the Town Center Plan it calls for parking garages to built prior the town center improvements being in place? I have read through the document multiple times and don’t see where it is called out. It looks like you may need to do a little fact checking on your own post.

  • “a beachside version of Detroit.”

    Come. On.

    Let me guess – the person who said that was super duper white. Just for fun, I dropped the Google Boy in a random spot on Google Maps to do a quick visual comparison between Detroit and Dana Point. I landed on 8187 Medina St., Detroit, MI. Go ahead and take a look.


    Oh yeah, totally a spitting image. That rusted chain link fence and apparently abandoned construction equipment just across the cracked road from the fenced off house plastered with “Beware Of Dog” “No Trespassing” “Private Property” signs, overgrown and shattered sidewalk, tire-tracked grass, and piles of garbage everywhere – totally like Dana Point.

    Oh hey! Just up the road at 955 Cary St., a literal collapsed building! Why, it’s just like the collapsed building on Amber Lantern! And around the corner from there, an apparently condemned building shuttered and spray-painted at 8110 W Jefferson Ave., just like all of the shuttered and spray-painted buildings you can see on Del Prado.

    C’mon, guys. I was against Prop H myself, but let’s stop being ridiculous. We have things pretty good. We could make them better, but let’s not forget we live in a place other people spend a lot of money just to visit.

  • I suspect the person was probably referencing the old “Bates Motel” next to Taco Bell that was torn down last year. I actually think it’s kind of funny when the guy standing in front of Circle K asks me if I want to buy some weed or coke, kind of reminds of being in Amsterdam. I know there were huge issues with vagrants at the hotel behind Del Taco, I believe the city was forced to tear it down because it was considered dangerous. We are clearly not Detroit, but we look much worse than our neighbors in Laguna, San Clemente and Newport Beach.

  • I agree that measure H was incorrect for the community. (And I live 1 block off the Lantern District). Although- I haven’t seen the connection to CAPO CARES that all these other folks do. To me- they just want Doheny Village, the bridge etc. cleaned up as soon as possible. I don’t see the anti-development rhetoric from CAPO CARES that I do from Save Dana Point. If anything- I think it was a match made in order to create more focus on that side of town from Council Members.

    If I am CAPO CARES I would also fight as hard as possible for funds directed to my piece of the town also. Although its gone now. (Yes I realize it was spent in my back yard up here in LD). But that is why Measure H was probably more disastrous for the CAPO folks than for the Lantern District folks like me! There is real value to developing out the LD as well as a potential Hotel near the fast food joints. All of which could (and should) be spent down in CAPO.

    Perhaps we should all start thinking about a way to get with the developer on the Doheny Hotel to increase some immediate development impact fees and increase the TOT.

    At some point this new council will need to deliver a method to help improve Doheny/CAPO. Yes- its smart to analyze the details and ensure our Police Services/legal fees and even community events are intelligently spent. But at some they will need to envisioning how to interact with Developers to provide long term resources.

    • At last! Some common sense. This smearing of Capo Cares with anti-development is just plain wrong. I hear nothing but “let’s develop DV and PCH” from their leaders. CC stands for responsible development which means stick to the zoning heights, don’t ruin neighborhoods where we live, and don’t screw up the parking again.

      Most think Bevmo looks great. Have you seen our Liquor Locker?? Come on, man! Most aren’t crazy about the Bevmo sign right in your face at the entrance to LD, but hey, that’s commerce. They have to advertise their store. People are trying to pretend Save Dana Point and Capo Cares are one unit just because some of their key people live in Capo Beach. Suspect it’s politics. Trying to demonize popular groups who might endorse good people in the next election. They’re separate groups and if you paid any attention, you’d know that. They both like Lewis and Wyatt, but so did most of Dana Point, and everyone over heres kind of pissed that the three do-nothings are blocking every move they try to make to improve the City, or balance the budget, or even talk to other cities for Gods sake.

      Go ahead and develop LD, but there’s no money left for Capo thanks to all the spending up there. Save the violins and give us a break. We’re tired of your whining. Come over here and look around and you’d be howling and grabbing pitchforks! And quit saying LD development will save DV. It won’t. Even if you develop the whole thing, the estimated revenue from the remaining lots won’t do much — I think $6 or 700K per year for the whole place according to the consultant? – already spent before it’s earned with the increase in the police contract alone – and that budget monster’s going to grow every year. We need much more than LD to dig out of that budget hole, Einsteins.. We need solutions, not smear campaigns. Get off your couches and help out instead of slamming those who try. Who’s behind these nasty letters? Maybe the three up for election?

      • Dan, I should be more clear about my view on the situation. CAPO CARES is great. They work hard to get focus on their area. Much the same as Lantern Village Association.

        SAVE DANA POINT is the disaster and formed strictly for political purposes. I do appreciate their spending analysis, but the anti development focus and lying (yes lying) to achieve their goals is unacceptable.. My specific example is the literature showing a huge sign for BevMo. (A product which more than complies with all zoning/parking/etc). I don’t mind if you disagree with something- but you need to be honest when trying to gather additional support. That documentation was not honest.

        One other item. I would stop claiming that the build out is of no value significant value to the community. Based off the numbers provided by the consultants, if the net effect per year to the city is 600k- that is of value.. I am not sure why people cannot comprehend this basic concept. Yes- in practical terms its difficult to estimate and sell these future streams of cash flow- but in theory someone would pay us approximately 11 – 18 million dollars today if they received this net income as a perpetuity from this full build out.

        Is this more complicated than selling your income property? yes, but theoretically no different.

        We sit here and complain about the total cost of LD, and then nickel and dime symphony, concerts in the park etc- but in reality the biggest chunk of change we are missing is from Development. Yes, development

  • Below is a link to exactly what I believe to be the difference between CAPO CARES and Save Dana Point.

    *A project that complies with all Zoning, Parking etc…

    I don’t see this as something CAPO CARES would be against. And at this point, does anybody actually have a problem with this development? I certainly don’t, other than I wish they would have demolished the circle K and put right on Amber Lantern.

  • Mary Therese Spivey Reply

    I think the Latern Dist. looks beautiful, do you think your friend might be thinking Detroit and Doheny? Or didnt you take your guest to eat in Doheny?

    As for the orchestra, I thought it was another council member saying only the wealthy appreciate fine music?


comments (9)

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>