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By Steve Stewart, Dana Point

Roxanna Watrous’ letter in the Feb. 27, DP Times raised a lot of questions about the $20 million just spent on road work, sidewalks and trees in the hope that commercial and retail business would be attracted in to the Town Center. It looks like what Dana Point residents got for their $20 million was a more congested Pacific Coast Highway. I think most people would call that a very bad investment.

There is no evidence of retail or commercial developments springing up as a result what has been done. To be fair, that trend, if it ever happens, might take some time to develop. Our $20 million should have been expended in phases, as originally proposed, and spent over time based on results rather than hope and hype. Instead it was spent at once, without waiting for any evidence that it was having the desired effect. It will be a long time before the city accumulates enough funding for the other areas of our city that badly need investment.

Perhaps the only way to make this outcome worse would be to amend our Town Center plan to allow more dense residential development in place of the retail development that did not come. That would add to the traffic congestion we have just created. It would negate the original Town Center conception of a tasteful mixed-use commercial/residential area downtown. If that happens, you can say good bye to casual beach atmosphere and hello to four-story condos and difficult parking. Believe it or not, that is what is on the agenda in our city planning department now.

We all need to step up and make our voices heard by the City Council. We want what we had and not what they are intent on bringing us. Tell them to stop.

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (19)

  • Time is up on weeded empty lots, ugly parking lots and Taco Bell drive through. So I agree, it’s critical our voices be heard, in favor of continuing the city planning that is after decades of neglect making DP town center profitable, comfortable and beatiful. Support reasonable parking requirements and density if you want to see DP blossom into a real walkable, enjoyable town it deserves to be.

    • I think it’s critical that all voices are allowed to be heard in front of the City Council. The loudest voice does not constitute the opinion of the majority. From what I can see, the responses to Steve and Roxanna’s letters show that residents do not want “density” (i.e. housing), but the retail shops that are actually part of the plan for Town Center.

  • Steve Stewart- Great article! I completely agree. I think the key to reasonable parking requirements is for the property owners and developers to provide enough parking at their own expense for what they build.

    Parking expenses shouldn’t be shunted to the tax payers for the benefit of developers. I, for one, don’t want to pay for metered parking, higher taxes or raid the very little remaining in our reserve fund just so a land owner/developer can make a higher profit margin.

    Moreover, there is no requirement for housing in town center at all. The zoning is for business and commercial or business/ commercial and residential mixed use.

    If developers can’t afford the parking required for mix use, then they can build smaller single story storefronts that are much cheaper to build, more beautiful and require fewer parking spots. Plus none of the spots would be lost to permanent use, which is required for housing.

    Thus, it would prevent a high density traffic problem. It would also prevent housing developers from trying to take the limited adjacent street parking away from existing business at the city’s expense.

    This solution adheres to the spirit of the Town Center plan, is aesthetically pleasing due to low height development, does not require tax payers to be burdened with parking expenses that developers are currently required to pay, it prevents the current traffic problem from becoming worse and it protects the parking for our current businesses.

  • “Don’t want to pay for metered parking”. I don’t want to pay for boat slip, this is why I don’t get a boat or require you to pay me for a slip I don’t use.

    Why should private property owners be required to pay for you to park for free? This is simply unfair, and most things in life aren’t free, and if others need to subside you for something, let’s start with some other basic need than parking your car…

    • Most things in life are indeed, not free. Following the logic of your analogy, I have to assume that you are a proponent for paid parking in every town, everywhere because private owners shouldn’t have to pay for the spots during development. How ludicrous. Stop trying to pass the buck onto tax payers and potential store patrons when the law requires land owners to foot the bill.

      • “law requires land owners to foot the bill.”… No, it does not. It is up to us residents to decide what is the parking minimum and maximum required by parcel owners. And it is indeed ultimately paid for by us same residents, not the landowner as you claim.
        Let me explain, if I arrive at bagel shop, the business owner tenant can charge me $1 for bagel and $1 for parking to cover his expenses, or $2 for bagel, parking included. However, if I arrive on foot, in second scenario where parking was included, I must still pay for it even though I don’t need it. This is also called socialism. I oppose parking socialism.

        • In the real world, it is expected that new developments will provide an adequate level parking for the uses their project creates. According to your logic this is some form of parking socialism. In the view of many informed DP residents, it is socialism for city taxpayers to pay for the infrastructure ($20 million in curb, sidewalk, trees and paving) as well as $6.5 million in SOCWA water pipe modifications, all to benefit you and your client’s developments on Del Prado. We have put that much up and now you want to shirk your responsibility to provide parking? I think as the general public becomes more aware of your expectations you are going to have difficulty getting your way with our city council. Or we will have new members of the city council come November 2016.

          • I would assert that sidewalks and sewage pipes and even street trees are the proper domain of the city government, not parking. If you want parking for your business, then you pay for it, but if I don’t want to provide free parking I shouldn’t have to. That’s freedom which is what private property is all about.

        • I agree with Haely Young and Steve Stewart.

          Danapointer- You are wrong. The law does “require landowners to foot the bill.” However, residents have some input as to how big that bill will be based on minimum and maximum parking requirements.

          As for your hypothetical, it doesn’t make sense factually or logically.

          (A) Either way, a landowner pays for the parking spaces. The only issue is how many.

          (B) It does not follow that a landowner paying to construct parking on his own property for the benefit of his own property is socialist. That sounds pretty capitalist to me. Nor does it follow that the solution to this “socialism” is for the city to buy parking spaces at tax payer expense for the benefit of a property owner. If anything your solution reeks of the very ideology you purport to be against–socialism.

  • Perhaps you’ve forgotten about the $20 Million that taxpayers have already contributed to Town Center. You sound like a Town Center property owner who has greatly benefited but is not very grateful. The real point is that developers should pay for the parking that is required for their projects without the City continuing to subsidize them by reducing the residential zoning requirement and granting other parking concessions, reducing in lieu fees, adding additional floors and other perks at taxpayer expense.

  • Danapointer- Your analogy is flawed and doesn’t prove the point you are trying to make.

    A. Tax payers don’t have to pay for parking spots under current law.

    B. In your analogy, you wouldn’t get a boat because you wouldn’t want to pay for a boat slip to park it.

    By your own logic then, a person shouldn’t buy a property unless he is willing to pay for parking.

    Conclusion: So DanaPointer, if you happen to have bought and currently own Town Center property, then you should pay for parking.

    As it happens, that’s exactly what our law says.

  • Steve, your letter is spot on. It sounds like Danapointer is still drinking the Town Center koolaid, but hopefully some clear thinking and pointed questions from reasoned, concerned residents will start to shed light on this white elephant. Danapointer fails to point out that the taxpayers got very little for a huge investment, and what little we’ll get may take years to emerge in the form of sales and property tax revenue, and that’s only IF we actually attract some development to this area. Worse, the money was spent with little attention paid to the basics such as development consultants and good landscape and streetscape design. It’s appalling that we’ve spent funds on “improvements” without noticing that the sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate the “pedestrian friendly retail environment” we envisioned, and that we’ve given away the store on parking to the one interested housing developer to such an extent that now we have to lease parking from private property owners! And by the way, where is the Majestic Project right now? Have they applied for permits? Do they even have their equity partners in place? This whole thing smacks of a rushed, poorly thought out plan, and now City officials are back filling and changing the plan to make this thing make sense. Sorry guys, it just doesn’t. You wasted our money and we’re hoping you’ll stop the craziness and start applying some fiscal conservatism to figure out how to get the City back on track. No matter how much money and fancy dancing is applied to this project, the fundamentals are all wrong. Let’s take a deep breath and close the check book before you start dipping into emergency reserves. Town Center was a project based on hope, not substance. Developers, restaurants and retailers will come to Dana Point because it makes sense for their business in terms of potential customer base, revenue potential and return on investment. Let’s look at clear, factual information, not what we “hope” may happen.

    • Susan Brown, your comments are spot on and all through the planning commission and council meetings there were many of us asking for them to be prudent in the spending and really get the parking figured out in advance, not after the fact the way it is being done now. Lisa Bartlett’s ‘no’ vote for Majestic was based solely on the parking issues not being thought out and with no plan in place. Brad Fowler proposed a phased plan also, but Steve Weinberg and Bill (on the take from Developers) Brough couldn’t wait to jam this thing down our throats for something to run on in the future. I hope Olvera gets his *** kicked in the 2016 election for his vote and even though he thinks voters have a short memory we are determined to enlighten everyone in the next election.

  • I agree with Steve’s letter. I was at the planning commission hearings for the Majestic condo project with its proposed high density condos and 59 foot towers. The public was speaking out against the project and asking the commission to stick to the Town Center Plan. This is not what we want! But Ursula Luna-Reynosa, city planning staff, was quoting statistics from European studies she had heard in one of the city paid seminars she attended, telling the audience that retail was overbuilt and no longer works.

    As to DanaPointer, the best way to encourage people to come, shop and spend money in Dana Point is to make it easy and convenient for them to get here and park here. The city gets that money back in increased sales tax dollars and business owners get better sales figures.

    • On your last point, I am not opposed to property owners to providing parking to their hearts’ content, just opposed to our local government mandating it in such huge numbers and me paying for it in form of high rents and ugly parking crater landscapes.

  • Danapointer- It would be great if the sentiment “property owners . . . providing parking to their hearts’ content” equaled sufficient parking. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t. That’s why parking in relation to development got regulated in the first place.

    The regulations are the only thing from preventing the cost of parking from falling to the tax payers.

    Land development is a privilege, not a right. With that privilege comes the responsibility to provide sufficient parking.

  • Fellow Patients,

    It would be nice to have a parking problem in Town Center. It has existed about 80 years, and I can’t imagine that it has ever had a parking problem. I must be wrong.

    I’m going to call the good folks at the Historical Society, maybe they have some historic photos of the vibrant Town Center that probably existed back when with the current parking and housing standards. Let’s all demand that we want those good old days again.

    Who’s with me? Let’s all meet in the Day Room to discuss.

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