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By Breeana Greenberg

A new physical therapy clinic’s plans to lease space on the ground floor of the Prado West mixed-use building is being challenged by neighboring building owners who are appealing the business’s permit over fears that it will impact the availability of on-street parking.

The Dana Point Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Monday night, July 11, to discuss the appeal challenging Spine and Sport Physical Therapy’s conditional use permit that was approved in mid-May.

Neighboring building owners Bill McCormack and Naomi Yang appealed the community development director’s decision to approve the permit, raising concerns that customers of the Prado West Development may take up available on-street parking on Violet Lantern, affecting their own businesses, according to the city’s staff report.

Prado West consists of two parking structures, one that is available to Prado West customers and residents of the apartments, and one that is gated and limited to use for retail employees, as well as other apartment residents.

Because the parking structure below Building 3, where Spine and Sport Physical Therapy will be located, is gated and limited to employees and residents of Prado West, the appellants are concerned that customers visiting the Building 3 shops will take parking along Violet Lantern rather than walk from the structure beneath Building 2.

The appellants wrote in their appeal that the parking arrangement “is not working now and will obviously get worse as more commercial space is leased.”

The appellants also wrote that they were concerned that Prado West customers parking along Violet Lantern may affect their customers because “no on-street public parking is available.”

“Most every day 95% of the Prado West Building 3 Violet Lantern Street facing stalls are occupied while 95% of the Prado West Building 1 and 2 underground stalls located at Blue Lantern and the alley are unoccupied,”

In response, city staff explained that signs will be installed along Building 3 directing customers to park in the structure below Building 2, and that a three-hour parking restriction has been imposed on public parking along Violet Lantern.

“When Raintree Partners purchased the property now known as Prado West, we worked extensively with the City to accommodate several community concerns with the original project approvals, including parking,” Raintree Partners Managing Director Jason Check said in an email.

“Prado West now exceeds the City’s required parking standards for this application and provides for significantly more publicly accessible parking than was approved as part of the original project,” Check continued.

The staff report further explained that “customers desiring to access the retail facilities located in Building 3 may either park in the structure located at Building 2, or in one of the other on-street public parking spaces that are generally available for use by any Town Center visitor.”

In the appeal, McCormack also stated that the parking situation is in violation of Measure H. With Measure H, passed in 2016, the appellants argue that the city would need a local coastal plan amendment from the California Coastal Commission if a commercial site in the Town Center does not provide on-site parking.

The appellants also state that “during construction of Prado West Building 3, the required 26 on-site public parking stalls designated for commercial parking were replaced with 26 offsite public parking stalls located 7 properties or ⅛ mile away without obtaining a local coastal plan amendment.”

The staff report explained that a business located within a quarter-mile radius of parking is an “acceptable walking distance to access a parking facility.”

Acknowledging that public parking is “a free for all,” the appellants further raised the issue of fairness for the other commercial properties along Violet Lantern that have to offer on-site parking for tenants, and questioned, “why this condition is not applied to Spine and Sport Physical Therapy.”

“We are glad to see that Dana Point is thriving and am happy to see new businesses being built, but please understand all we want is something fair and the rules to apply for all of us,” the appellants wrote.

The appellants are requesting that “Raintree and the City of Dana Point amend the Prado West 3 Plans and provide the 26 onsite commercial parking stalls required in the original plans for the mutual benefit of all parties.”

Check explained that he is disappointed in the appeal delaying, “and potentially deterring, another small business from moving to downtown Dana Point.”

“We will continue to work hard to support attracting more small businesses to the downtown area to add to our list of local retail partners; however, this unfounded appeal is just one more example of the difficulty of navigating the process of opening a small business in town,” Check said.

The appeal will be heard during the July 11 Planning Commission meeting at 6 p.m.

Breeana Greenberg

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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