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This may be too little too late, but with the June elections upon us in California, I must comment on the volatile Measure H/Measure I debate dividing Dana Point. I’ve carefully read the letters over the past few weeks in The DP Times by the likes of Carey Reynolds, Annette McGinn, Steve Stewart, Craig Alexander, Debra Lewis, Marv Sherrill, et al, as well as the “impartial” analysis (on Ballotpedia) by the Dana Point city attorney, and I don’t find much confusion at all.
First, I’d like to get one thing out of the way up front: Any Measure H supporter who has resorted to vandalism or bullying or the so-called “Hitler video” is an idiot and should stay out of the debate. You’re not helping. I shouldn’t be surprised, of course, since such tactics are commonplace from Washington DC on down.
That said, as I see it, the City Council, in a 4-member majority, as well as businesses and developers, are doing their best to confuse the issue and cater to said developers. The previous City Council, that of Bill Brough and his 3-2 pro-developer cabal, and now the current council, have been running roughshod over what I’ve seen to be a majority of residents who are trying to maintain the small town atmosphere that has drawn thousands of visitors and new residents to Dana Point over the years. Only Scott Schoeffel has the integrity to take a stand.
Further proof of a pro-developer atmosphere is the slick, full-color “Yes On I” mailers showing up this week. I’m sick of my country having been “fundamentally changed” over the last eight years. I don’t need my hometown to be fundamentally changed as well. The cost is simply too high.
In seems that in nearly every major developer debate, for example the proposed five-story hotel that was intended for the SW corner of PCH and Harbor Drive, as well as the more recent so-called Majestic pile that’s slated to be dumped smack in the middle of Town Center, these two city councils have voted, often over the recommendations of the Planning Commission, against a majority of speakers at council meetings who are only asking for sensible development according to agreed-upon city plans.
With all due respect to the office itself, Bill Brough’s time on the council was one of the worst things to happen to this city. He may have done a decent job on the small stuff, but I have no doubt he makes it clear in the California Assembly about what he’s done for Dana Point. I view it as what he’s done to Dana Point.
The complaint heard ever since the city was incorporated in 1989 was that Dana Point is just a city that tourists drive through on the way to somewhere else. I strongly disagree with this assessment. That may have been the case in the very early days, but no more. We now have a few world-class hotels, a charming harbor, restaurants and shopping galore, the annual Grand Prix Bicycle Race, Festival of Whales, Doheny Blues Festival and nearly countless other events that draw people from around the world.
I hear people say that “we don’t want to be like Laguna Beach or San Clemente.” On the contrary, we would do well to take a page or two out of those cities’ play books. Laguna Beach has done an admirable job of maintaining its own small-town atmosphere with careful, sensible development under decent height restrictions.
The Majestic condo project–now apparently to be over 100 apartments–has no business being built at all. And it’s being done in a typically sneaky developer fashion. They don’t have to live here. It’s almost like dropping the St. Regis into Town Center. I shake my head when I see such projects blotting out the sky in Irvine on Jamboree or out on Crown Valley near Forbes Road. I’ve always been thankful that nothing like that could be built in Dana Point. Yet, here it is, and in a time when we’ll probably never be out of a state of drought.
If we’d given up on the Headlands years ago, we’d have ended up with hundreds of homes and two 400-room hotels.
Wake up, Dana Point. It’s time to take a stand against runaway development. Again.