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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

A proposal to amend the Town Center Plan—which stemmed from a letter sent on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce—was shot down by Dana Point City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The letter sent by the Chamber to Dana Point City Council in September requested that the city facilitate a ballot measure that would reduce the 18-foot ground floor minimum height requirement to a 14-foot ground floor minimum height requirement for new development in the Town Center/Lantern District. The Town Center Plan was amended by the 2015 Town Center Initiative to include a provision that any future changes must be approved by a vote at a municipal election.

Michael Fox, chairperson for the Chamber’s board of directors, submitted the letter and also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. While the letter urged the city to make an effort to amend the Town Center Plan, his statement before council scaled back on whether the Chamber took a position.

“Our intention was to initiate discussion, it was not to make an amendment,” Fox said. “The 14-18 feet would be good for small business. . . . It’s evolved the discussion to be more inclusive of other issues that need to be looked at. At this point, it’s kind of speculative discussion.”

Fox added he would take this discussion to the Chamber’s membership.

Mayor Joe Muller made a motion to neither approve nor deny the initiative and additionally reassemble a subcommittee to revisit the Town Center Plan and study all possible improvements and updates.

Councilmember Debra Lewis made an amended motion to deny the initiative altogether.

“We need to look at the intended and unintended consequences of the Town Center Plan and how we might tweak it to get what the residents want. For now, we don’t have the staff capacity,” Councilmember Jamey Federico said.

Lewis argued that with Prado West still in construction, it would be too soon to understand amendments the Town Center Plan needs.

“We had the Chamber come forward with what I would charitably describe as tepid support,” Lewis said. “Now we have this entire plan that took years, a lot of money, a lot of meetings. We haven’t even seen the project yet. We’re falling over ourselves, because someone from the Chamber said we need to make a change.”

If the bottom line is the plan needs to be tweaked, the cost shouldn’t fall on the residents, Lewis added.

A motion to reassemble a Town Center Plan Subcommittee was brought forth by Muller, but voted down, 3-2. Lewis’s motion to deny a city-sponsored ballot initiative for a Town Center Plan amendment was unanimously approved.

Federico said he would personally offer his time to the Chamber if they were to form a committee to study possible improvements to the Town Center Plan.

The next regularly scheduled city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 19.

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Lillian Boyd
Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.

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