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DP logoCarol Kelly, Dana Point

When Assemblyman Bill Brough served on the Dana Point City Council, he voted to approve the Majestic condominium project, which is now a Raintree rental project with 109 rental apartment units on 2.2 acres. This is despite the fact that the Dana Point Planning Commission had been split on the issue, rendering a no vote. These rentals projects are in the middle of the Lantern District, and do not provide adequate guest, residential or public parking.

A vote for Measure I means lowering property values due to congested, inadequate parking as a result of his vote. This will not serve Dana Point businesses or residents well.

On the other hand, Measure H supporters advocate lovely commercial shops, and restaurants, with adequate public parking and three-story/40-foot height limits as was approved in the Town Center Plan and voted on in 2008; as opposed to the high rise apartments and inadequate parking as proposed in Measure I.

The city complains they do not have the money to build a parking structure now. Had they built the parking structure in 2007 when it was first proposed in open session; this town center project would be successful and revenue positive by now without variances needed to please developers.

Vote yes on H. Vote no on I.

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comments (27)

  • Decreased property values due to congested, inadequate parking? Lol. Tell that to Laguna Beach or any other number of cities across the country!

    • Long-Time Resident Reply

      Correct. If Measure I passes, property values will obviously increase throughout the city, not just in the Lantern District. Currently Dana Point trails Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Corona del Mar, and Newport Beach. We’re ahead of Huntington Beach and San Clemente.

    • The parking requirements in Measure H are probably not economically feasible. And you’re right about Laguna….and Main Street, Seal Beach and 2nd Street Belmont Shore, and so many more places.

  • This is such a silly argument. Let’s use some common sense people! If you owned a restaurant in Lantern District, wouldn’t you want parking for your customers? If I have 3500 square feet, are 7 spots really enough? Once the staff parks, where do the customers go? Can I make it with 7 customers? Or should they park at Taco Bell in the shared spots and schlep up the hill? In what universe do paying customers choose restaurants or shops where they can’t park? Let’s just admit that the Council got the cart before the horse and failed to spend some of that $20 or $30 million on a centrally located parking structure. Now there’s no money left to build one, so that subject is dead. The shared parking makes sense only if the right uses are nearby. Instead, our embarrassed Council is running around like chickens grabbing any spots they can get, making the unrealistic assumption that they’ve built such an enviable area that people will park in inconvenient places to patronize the LD businesses. In the case of residential buildings, why would I build rental units with only one parking spot for the inevitable couples who may occupy 1 bedroom units? Parking and building go hand in hand. Let’s quit making ridiculous economic arguments that assume that ANY developer is dumb enough to build a mixed use or any other development with those standards? By your own admissions, Raintree is already recognizing that it doesn’t work and is backing away from the standards Council approved. H may not be perfect but it gives this runaway Council the proverbial “slap upside the head” they seem to need. Wise up and quit ignoring your residents! Yes on H. No on I.

  • Why not float a bond? Rates are very low. Cash is not always the best option. Also state or fed dollars may be avaialable. That’s not a handout, just getting back some of what we pay them. I know debt terrifies people but if a defect is found in the plan it can’t be ignored.

    • I think before Dana Point considers going into debt for this area, we’d better be darned sure we’ve got a good handle on the vision for the area with some real economic development effort aimed at specific businesses, not this vague, “if we build it they will come planning”. We badly need a Council with some sound financial chops, or at least some intellectual curiosity. They continue to rubber stamp huge budgets and pass million dollar budget adjustments without asking even basic, common sense questions. The other night Mr. Mueller claimed the City has had operating surpluses for years. Don’t you think as a Council member he should at least know that we’ve had operating deficits in 5 out of the last 6 years? How could he miss something so fundamental? I wouldn’t trust our current Council with a bond or even a line of credit. They’d get us in REAL trouble very soon with their spending habits.

      It will be entirely possible to rebuild the City treasury if we can get a good Council on board that will order a thorough financial review, common sense budgetary controls and some cost cutting measures. You can’t spend more than you take in every year and then add a debt burden on top of that. Bad news! And by the way, when does another area of the City get a chance at development? Do we have to put every cent into shoring up this area for another 8 years? There’s a whole City out there waiting for a little attention. Del Prado and PCH have eaten up all our resources long enough.

      • I agree that no further work can be planned until this is settled. It’s always a gamble when a project is undertaken. DP doesn’t have a huge financial cushion to compensate for mistakes or erroneus estimates. It’s easy to succumb to “spreadsheet success hypnosis” as I call it. You plug numbers in until you get the results you like then human nature leads us to believe it’s fact. If businesses come, parking will be needed. We’ll see how this I vs H thing goes first.

  • Long-Time Resident Reply

    The City shouldn’t spend $ on a parking structure when there’s a tremendous surplus of parking. You could review the July 21, 2015 presentation by Nelson Nygaard, or go downtown to see for yourself that there’s no parking supply deficit.

    It’s also much cheaper to rent space at $30/month/space than to build a new structure: $360/space/year vs $40K/space. Ignoring inflation, that comes to 0.9%, much less than the interest rate available to the City.

    If H fails, the City might have to build a structure in the future, and/or it could tighten the parking standards at some point. Higher rents as a consequence of development would make more restrictive parking standards feasible. The $35 million in revenue over 60 years ($575K/year average) assuming a 30 year build-out would be more than enough $ to pay for additional parking if needed.

    If H passes and is approved by the Coastal Commission, the City should terminate their addition of leased parking. The leased lots are largely unused, and will remain so. No mixed-use will get built under H for at least several years. The Raintree project, if built, would use up some of the parking surplus, but not enough to require additional public parking.

  • Mr. Theile (a.k.a. Long Term Resident),
    The area will continue to be developed, intelligently . If you believe what you say ,I guess as soon as H passes your lot will be up for sale.
    You are like every other developer, looking to cash in and leave city taxpayers holding the bill. You most likely bought this land when the Town Center plan was in place. You knew the law, the codes the restrictions. You thought it was a good investment. But now you don’t think so, you want more.
    Who knew? A developer wants to make more $$$ . That is a first !
    I understand , buying a city council is just a cost of doing business. Sorry the power grab is not working this time . Where will you find another beach town to exploit?


  • This is not a responsible time to change the zoning for Town Center parking. What’s the rush? Passage of Measure H gives the city time to assess the parking conditions in Town Center with all of the major new development underway approved or opening.

    Our City Councils rush changes during their short tenures in office without considering the long term consequences and fiscal impacts of their decisions. The city is already $30,000,000 under water in Town Center. The long term fiscal impact to the parking reductions need to be thoroughly examined before adopting their major changes.

  • This is not a responsible time to change the zoning requirements for Town Center parking. What’s the rush? Approving H will allow time for the city to evaluate the effects on the existing parking conditions of all the new development and projects underway that are using the existing parking standards, particularly the three huge buildings of the Majestic/Raintree development.

    Our City Councils have been making decisions without considering the long term effects or the fiscal impacts on the City and the taxpayers. the City is already about $26,000,000 underwater on Town Center. It’s time for the City to start planning responsibly.

    • Betty, a judge ruled in court that you lied in your ballot statement about the cost of the town center improvements, yet you still keep lying to the public. You continuously play loose with the facts in your win at all cost strategy. The end does not justify the means – just tell the truth.

      Your measure h changes the town center plan, correct? Is there not strike-through deletions of text in your re-write of the town center plan?

      Your measure h changes the town center plan, correct? Is there not language added to the town center plan in your version of it?

      Explain your professional experience in drafting or helping to draft zoning regulations such as the town center plan (none except for your measure h, correct?)

      Your measure h trashes 6 years of community meetings that formed the bases of the town center plan. Nuts.

      • Shawn – Your comments are utterly dishonest. A judge did not say Betty lied in her ballot statement. You know better and we know better. A judge edited several sentences supplied by Measure H proponents that were to appear in the published ballot statement. Nothing the judge edited from the Measure H statement was published in the ballot pamphlet. You are throwing out a red herring when you say she lied to the voters.

        Your hysterical angst about Betty Hill and the impact of Measure H says a lot about you and nothing honest or accurate about Ms Hill or the Measure H campaign. Many of us look forward to a better Dana Point on Wednesday morning, after Measure H passes. We are taking back our city and will have the opportunity to see that it works for all of us. Maybe that is what has you so worked up?

      • Getting a little testy there, aren’t you Shawn? Why are you harassing a private citizen who fought against all odds at great personal sacrifice for no purpose except to stop a runaway Council from granting absurd variances and to try to encourage responsible development in a town she loves? How can you call her a liar, when the judge clearly left the reference to the $20 million in the ballot argument? If you read the court documents, it’s clear the judge got hung up on the use of the term “reserves”. Whether you call it, “reserves” or “total governmental funds”, or “city treasury” or anything else, it’s pretty clear that a lot of MONEY is missing. On June 30, 2008, the City’s net worth, or “total funds” were $55 million. Now we’re projected to end 2016 with $25 million. We’re $30 million poorer, and that doesn’t count the additional $3.6 million in the Capo Beach land sale, which went in and out of the books in a flash and never hit net worth. It also doesn’t include the $6 million spent by the Water District. So no, Shawn, I don’t think anyone thinks that saying a mere $20million was spent on Town Center is inaccurate. In fact, it grossly understates the real cost of this project. Wouldn’t it be great if City Hall would provide a thorough accounting of the Lantern District costs, including planning, design, parking and all expenditures including the brick and mortar costs that the City estimates at $19 or $20 million. If that’s all that was spent, what else do we have to show for the extra $10 million? Come on. Let’s get real here. How about getting the City to tell the whole story and provide a line by line accounting for we, the citizens? A ton of money was spent on a poorly managed project and there won’t be a dime left to spend on any other major project for years. That’s the “real truth”– inconvenient as that may be.

  • Long-Term Resident Reply

    The LD plan including parking has been studied ad nauseum. If H passes, every year delay costs the City about 1/2 million $ in lost revenue over the 60 life of the project, plus the cost of another election, Coastal Commission review, etc., etc., etc. It’s way past time to move forward and end the downtown blight.

  • Hi Shawn,

    Why do all the I supporters seem to have a problem with the facts? The judge ruled in favor of H and against the I people and allowed the $20 Million to remain in the ballot argument.

    For those who want the facts before voting, I urge you to go to and click on “Details”. There you will find both “H” and “I” with their complete texts and highlights. Also, you will find the original text of the 2008 Town Center Plan, also with highlights. Regarding the City’s new parking plan, you will find the staff report version showing the deletions and insertions in the Town Center Plan highlighted, which wasn’t presented to the voters in their ballot statements.

    Thanks to all residents who care about the future of Dana Point !

    • Ok Betty, you are fast and loose with facts again, and avoid responding to direct questions as does the lawyer-politician for which you are the mouthpiece. So you lied when you purposefully stated it was $26 million even after a judge told you saying that is a lie. Got it.

      Betty, how about the rest of the story?

      Your measure h changes the town center plan, correct? Is there not strike-through deletions of text in your measure h re-write of the original, community-created town center plan?

      Your measure h changes the town center plan, correct? Is there not language added to the original, community-created town center plan in your measure h version of it?

      Explain your professional experience in drafting or helping to draft zoning regulations such as the town center plan (none except for your measure h, correct?)

      Your measure h trashes 6 years of community meetings that formed the basis of the town center plan. Nuts.

      • Holy cow Shawn! You’re up worrying about this at 2:58 AM?! You must be very worried about Tuesday’s results. For the record, City net worth will be down $30 million from 2008 when this year’s financial statements are posted (according to Mike Killibrews estimates). Betty’s $26 million is conservative in my view. Ask your City hall buddies where the $30 million went. Add on the $6 million from the water district and Betty’s estimate is low if anything.

        • Long-Time Resident Reply

          Cash in bank may be down $30 million, but not net worth. Most of the $ spent on LD improvements increase the City’s capital asset account to offset the reduction in cash. Depreciation expense is taken each year which reduces net worth.

          A made-up example with round numbers: if the City spent $30 million and $25 million of it was a capital investment, and the LD has a lifespan of 50 years, and it was done 2 years ago, total reduction in net worth would be $6 million ($30 – $25 + 2/50*$25m).

          • Look at the CAFRs, LTR. When I went to business school Assets minus liabilities equaled net worth. On the City’s consolidated statements that’s called “total governmental funds”. That’s the number projected to be down $30 mil. It happens to closely approximate cash but it sure looks like net worth will be down $30 million at the end of this month. I suspect they expensed all those planning and parking study costs to minimize the amount capitalized as Town Center. Perhaps fixed assets will increase this year if they haven’t capitalized the project yet, but about $30 million in cash and investments is gone. Can’t have it both ways. No matter how you look at it, we’re $30 million poorer in cash thanks to this project and don’t even have the parking structure which was a key ingredient of the original plan. When they grabbed all the surplus cash (and the proceeds of the Caoo land sale which would bring us up to $33.6 mil )at that ill fated meeting in 2014, they should have put someone in charge of planning for parking and seeking businesses to occupy the storefronts. Here’s some more math for you. Poor planning plus no economic development efforts equals bad news for Dana Point citizens.

          • Long-Time Resident

            No way will net worth be down $30 million due to the LD project, as most of it was investment, and very little depreciation expense would have been taken since the LD was recently finished.

            Also, what page# from the 2015 CAFR are you getting a $30m reduction in “total governmental funds”? Not page 21 or 24 (pdf pages 36, 39) I hope. That’s not a y-o-y comparison.

      • Not sure what person you’re referring to, but Betty Hill is a brave, patriotic woman who speaks for herself. Insults are neither warranted nor appreciated. As Frank said, $26 million is, if anything, a conservative estimate of real costs of this project. If you think that’s wrong, ask the City for a full accounting with ALL costs included, not just brick and mortar construction. H strengthens the Town Center Plan by making it impossible for a runaway Council to give away the store to developers. No one prefers ballot box zoning, but when you have an unscrupulous Council that thinks nothing of granting variances to developers who supported their campaigns (eg. Brough, especially), what are citizens to do? Their only remedy was a ballot initiative to rein these guys in. They got signatures the old fashioned way with countless unpaid volunteer hours. They didn’t have the real estate and developer money Measure I spent on glossy flyers. No one expected Council to be so corrupt as to create their own sham Measure I that does absolutely nothing except confuse the issue and ratify their parking giveaways, but they kept slogging away like the tireless, good hearted citizens they are. Why not put away the microscope and take out a mirror Shawn? Exactly how does Measure I change the Town Center Plan? Was that crazy parking plan approved by the people? I think not. Measure I can’t even find enough adults to support them, so they resort to putting kids on a fire truck and drive them around town allowing them to throw trash and give the middle finger to H supporters exercising their constitutional rights. Nice.

    • Shawn frustrated Brown Reply

      Betty, I honestly just asked you a few truly simple questions. You not only won’t answer them, you claim I’m pro-I. Answer my questions Betty. I looked at I in the ballot and don’t see any deleted language in the COMMUNITY DEVELOPED TOWN CENTER PLAN. (and yes I am yelling because you frustrate me by not answering questions).

      At this point – I’m voting NO!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hi Shawn,

    Only $20 Million was stated in the ballot arguments. However, evidence was presented that showed the amount was closer to $26 Million. That is why the judge allowed the $20 Million to remain in the argument.

    Please go to for the facts. Measure H supports the provisions in the 2008 Town Center Plan. Please go to for the details. Then explain Measure I and the changes to the 2008 Town Center Plan in the City’s parking plan proposal, that must still go to the California Coastal Commission for approval. The parking plan in Measure I changes the Town Center Plan, with strike-through deletions of text and a re-write of the plan correct?

    All we ever hear from the I supporters are allegations and misstatements. How about some facts about your measure I for a change.

  • Simple choices:

    Measure I:
    1. Pay-for-play development
    2. Reckless development
    3. Corporate welfare (sets dangerous precedent for future larger handouts to developers)
    4. More Corruption, Litigation & Waste (resulting from 1, 2 & 3 above)
    5. Higher taxes (resulting from 2, 3 & 4 above)

    Measure H:
    1. Assures future adherence to successful 2008 Town Center Plan vetted by citizens
    2. Maintains efficient & fair process for future development
    3. Fiscally Conservative (less corporate welfare, corruption & wasteful govt spending)
    4. Retains citizen oversight & approvals of requested variances or changes to 2008 Plan

    Simple choice: YES on H / NO on I

  • If there are so many people that shout ‘No Vacant Lots’ it make me wonder why they were in such a hurry to tear down so many buildings in the Lantern Village and displace so many existing businesses and restaurants? Just saying….

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