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RICK MORGAN, Dana Point

To be clear, I’m not anti-development. I’m pro-sensible development. And I still love this town.

But speaking as a 35-year resident, I grieve for what Dana Point has become. I feel Hector Hernandez’s pain when he speaks of San Clemente, as he lumps Dana Point into the same batch as Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

People have been attracted by the small-town atmosphere for decades, but that ship weighed anchor 10 years ago, when Bill Brough and his 3-2 pro-development cabal approved the monstrosities that now exist in the middle of Lantern Village, over the recommendation of the Planning Commission and about 90% of the residents.

Now, as another boxy mixed-use structure goes up at PCH and Golden Lantern, its equally boxy sibling prepares to be built on Del Prado across from Stillwater. More condos. Are the City Council and Planning Commission so incapable and without vision that they can’t seem to find architects that know how to design public buildings that actually complement the surrounding neighborhoods? The city is becoming unrecognizable.

Meanwhile, the Harbor “revitalization”—a carte blanche “giveaway” by Lisa Bartlett and the OC supervisors is more like it—crawls forward at the hands of the so-called Partners, with no restrictions on what they’re allowed to do.

We were lied to by the Partners four years ago when we were told at the Ocean Institute community presentation that “We’re not going to become Newport Beach!” They’ve claimed they’re giving the community what they wanted, but they’ve had no intention of retaining our charm.

I doubt anyone ever dreamed that “revitalization” meant tearing down every existing building, driving out the majority of the old, established, popular restaurants—not to mention veterans and couples who live aboard their boats—and evaporating that charm. It will become a tiny, exclusive enclave for oversized yachts.

Finally, the last nail in the “Destination Resort” coffin: hiring the former Visit Huntington Beach Exec VP to the same position in Dana Point. This is the best Dana Point could do? Huntington Beach has become a poster child for crass over-development. Again, I feel your pain, Hector Hernandez.

Anyway, as Dennis Miller used to say, “That’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

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