Town Center

September 16, 2015

COUNCIL VOTES FOR DEVELOPERS 

RESIDENTS NOT FAIRLY REPRESENTED 

At last night's City Council meeting, Councilmen Olvera,Viczoric, Tomlinson and Muller voted to save developers millions and increase building size and profits by approving the significantly reduced parking requirements for Town Center. So, they unfairly transferred the parking burden to Dana Point taxpayers.   

The 2015 Town Center Initiative is more critical than ever. These Councilmen left taxpayers paying for more public parking now (where?) and with the risk of a huge expenditure for additional parking in the future. Here is a rundown of the benefits to developers so far, all funded by Dana Point taxpayers:


            PCH Changes                $ 8,717,000

            Del Prado Changes            7,700,000

            Water District Expenditure   6,540,000

            Roma Design & EIR            2,938,000

            Del Prado Entry Feature        600,000

            Eastern Entry Feature          490,000

            Parking Consultants            187,000

            Water District Payment         400,000

                                        $27,572,000 


    ADDITIONAL BENEFITS:  Super low, reduced development

    fees AND Free use of street parking spaces worth $40,000 

    each(which their employees will probably be required to  

    use) AND Millions worth of profits from larger projects

    requiring  less parking.


RESIDENTS ARE NOT BEING REPRESENTED

BY THIS COUNCIL !! 


PARKING PLAN UNFAIR TO RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES

 

While the City Council did not give the second approval required for the proposed parking plan at the September 1 Council meeting, it failed to remedy the unfairness to residents and businesses.  The plan gives developers an over 50% reduction in their parking requirement, also allowing shared parking, valet parking , tandem, stacked and in lieu parking to satisfy their requirement.  The allowed 2 parking spaces per 1000 square feet for restaurants, which wouldn’t even accommodate its employees, will result in a huge burden on the limited public parking supply.   A shortage of parking will discourage customers, be detrimental to business success and  negatively impact neighborhoods.

Developers are already benefiting from $21 million in street improvements, $6 million in water district improvements, significantly reduced development fees, free access to street parking worth $40,000 per space and now reduced parking requirement saving millions. 

Meanwhile the proposed plan expects Dana Point taxpayers to pay to convert private parking spaces in central locations for public use.  Taxpayers will also bear the cost of parking needs in the future, should development overwhelm the parking supply. Shouldn’t developers share this expense?   There is no provision in the plan in the event the supply proves to be inadequate. 

The plan is unfair and needs to be improved to balance the risks, costs and benefits for residents, businesses and developers.  Improvements could include making the restaurant zoning requirement more reasonable and/or including a parking assessment fee on new development.

Please contact the City Council to support these proposals or suggest other improvements before the next City Council meeting.  The Council appears to be in a rush to approve this plan so favorable to Town Center property owners and developers.  Residents, taxpayers and our businesses deserve more consideration and support!   


The City Council will meet to approve the new parking plan and zoning for Town Center.   Contact the Councilmen to voice your concerns: colvera@danapoint.orgjtomlinson@danapoint.orgsschoeffel@danapoint.org; rviczorek@danapoint.org ; and jmuller@danapoint.org  


July 21, 2015

COUNCIL TAKES A LEAP OF FAITH

APPROVES THE PROPOSED PARKING PLAN

 

Mayor Carlos Olvera and Councilmen Joe Muller and John Tomlinson approved the proposed parking changes to the Town Center Plan in a 3-2 vote at the July 21 Council meeting.  However, the plan will be presented for a required second reading and for public comment at a future Council meeting, The final step will be its submission to the Coastal Commission for its approval.

Their parking plan doesn’t answer the most important question:  Where’s the parking?  The City has only been able to find 47 spaces at the Meridian building on Del Prado.  The lease is for 1 year after which it can be cancelled by either party giving 60 days notice.

Short term leases will not guarantee that spaces will be available in the future nor the price at which they will be available. There is no long term parking provision provided as required in the Town Center Plan.


 

COMMENTS ON PARKING

The short term leasing program will not attract the desired restaurants and businesses needed for a successful Town Center.  

The City Manager and Staff's zoning recommendations are risky and would not solve the parking problem in Town Center but create a bigger one, with overbuilt projects and a severe shortage of convenient parking for residents and businesses. The hoped for success of Town Center would be jeopardized by the special interests of a few developers and property owners. 

The City should be concentrating on recruiting new businesses and tailoring parking solutions to their needs.  To succeed and meet our expectations the Town Center must have anchor restaurants and businesses to attract customers from Dana Point and surrounding communities as well as tourists.  The Town Center Plan specifically calls for the City to prepare an economic development strategy to strengthen the business climate.  That should be done immediately.  

Spending twenty million dollars of taxpayer money on Town Center to attract development is enough. Taxpayers should not be expected to spend more to promote one area of the City.  Success in Town Center for residents means a retail district with shops, restaurants and entertainment with adequate parking.  Dana Point needs to make wise, not risky, decisions to protect the financial security of the entire City. 

 



December 4, 2014

TOWN CENTER PLAN: FACT OR FICTION

DANA POINT RESIDENTS DESERVE TO KNOW


Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development (DPRRD) supports  the development of projects and businesses in Dana Point that respect the city’s laws and which preserve the quality of living.  This includes the business district per the Town Center Plan.  

The City Council's approval of the Majestic project indicates that the city is not committed to adhering to the requirements of the Town Center Plan.  The city is not only encouraging development by variance but now appears to be governing by variance.

Tuesday night, December 2, the City Council approved the art work for an archway entry feature spanning Del Prado.  This feature and decorative banners on PCH are estimated to cost $590,000.  In addition, architect fees are $65,875.

In a few months taxpayers will be paying $7.7 million for other improvements on Del Prado to promote a plan the city apparently no longer supports.   There are unresolved issues in Town Center, such as parking, that could add significantly to the $20 million already funded from the city’s reserves.

So, is the Town Center Plan fact or fiction?  Continuing the Town Center redevelopment by circumventing the city’s approved plan and rushing decisions, such as the Majestic approval, is irresponsible and may be jeopardizing Dana Point’s future.

Everyone wants Town Center and its businesses to be successful. Please consider these serious issues, the city’s reserve accounts and other budgetary priorities throughout Dana Point. The city must make prudent decisions when deciding the future of Town Center and the entire Dana Point community.

 



October 22, 2014

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES MAJESTIC PROJECT


It probably comes as no surprise that Councilman Carlos Olvera, Bill Brough and Steven Weinberg voted to approve Majestic's massive condo project in Town Center, ignoring the legal requirements of the Town Center Plan and the overwhelming opposition of residents.  With the new election only days away, they seized the opportunity to approve Majestic's project before the new council is seated.  New council candidates have come out in support of the Town Center Plan and no variances. Councilmen Brough and Weinberg term out of their council positions after this election and will be replaced. 

The upcoming elections are extremely important to the future of Dana Point and the quality of life we enjoy.  We can't afford to elect a "special interest" city council.  Several candidates are supported by Councilmen Caros Olvera and Bill Brough, who are members  of the Town Center.org Committee.  Just weeks ago they again voted with Councilmen Steven Weinberg to approve spending an additional $7.7 million on Town Center street "improvements" to implement the Town Center Plan, the requirements of which they ignored last night.    

Thanks for caring about the future of Dana Point.



October 18, 2014

TOWN CENTER PLAN UNDER FIRE

At next Tuesday’s meeting the City Council will either support the Town Center Plan or set precedents launching a new Lantern Village Condo District.   Majestic Development’s four story, 109 unit condo project was denied by the Planning Commission.   Majestic has appealed this decision to the City Council for an irrevocable approval at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The Town Center Plan (TCP)

The Town Center Plan advocates a small town village atmosphere.  It envisions pedestrian friendly shops and restaurants, creating an attractive environment, appealing to residents and visitors. This would result in a vital commercial district currently lacking in Town Center.      

The TCP has a requirement of three stories and a height limit of 40 feet, with 18 foot high ceilings for restaurants and retail on first floor street frontages.  The TCP recommends public parking issues be addressed prior to beginning development.  The TCP was thoughtfully created through 36 working sessions with the city and dedicated residents.    

Planning Commission Denies Project

Dana Point’s Department of Community Development recommended approval of Majestic’s project.  However, residents have spoken overwhelmingly in opposition to this project. Planning Commissioners felt that the project should be improved to meet the intent and the requirements of the Town Center Plan.

Majestic’s project requires a variance to build four stories, instead of the allowed three.  There appears to be no legal justification to approve this variance and definitely not based on any economic hardship claimed by Majestic.

There are numerous decorative elements that exceed the 40 foot limit and elevator shafts at 59 feet.  These encroachments were not story poled as required for the benefit of residents. Failure to meet the required 10 foot additional set back above 30 feet on PCH and Del Prado requires a variance ignored by the city staff.

The developer is being allowed to make up 27 needed parking spaces by purchasing in lieu spaces from the city at a discounted price. The parking analysis done by the staff reduces the spaces required by 28 if bicycle spaces are provided.  The 21 guest parking spaces required by code are eliminated.  Credit is given to Majestic for 10 parking spaces in the public street right of way on Amber and Violet Lantern.  In total these recommendations decrease the required parking by 59 spaces.  Residents believe the parking will be inadequate; and this is only the first major development.

Benefits to Majestic

Allowing the fourth floor variance advocated by city staff allows 23 extra condos to be built which add $13,800,000 of sales potential to Majestic based on their estimated price of $600,000 each.   Parking recommendations noted above reduce Majestic’s cost of in-lieu spaces by $885,000.   At $15,000 each, bargain in-lieu fees save Majestic $25,000 each versus estimated costs of $40,000 each totaling $675,000 for 27 in lieu spaces.   The city recommends public land be given to Majestic to build above and under the alley which has a value of about $420,000.

At a recent public hearing, the Director of the Community Development Department, Ursula Luna-Reynosa, stated that in her opinion the 2008 Town Center Plan is not viable in 2014.  In her judgment developers should be allowed to build the more profitable residential units with a reduction in the shops and restaurants desired in the Town Center Plan and envisioned by residents.  Majestic’s project has 86% residential usage, well above the approximate 33% envisioned in the TCP.

Residents Urge Denial of Project

Residents urge the City Council to uphold the Planning Commission’s denial.  Dana Point residents do not get the desired benefits of the Town Center Plan from this project.  Residents feel that this project changes the desired character of the TCP and adds to traffic and parking problems which will impact residential neighborhoods. 

Residents also feel that it would be irresponsible for the City Council to hastily approve the Majestic project and ignore the enormous opposition displayed at the Planning Commission meetings.   Residents have been asked to spend $20 million to implement the Town Center Plan and feel it shouldn’t be changed just to hasten the development of this non-compliant project. 

Before considering approval of Majestic’s project, the  City Council should get a formal legal opinion stating facts and law support the variances, permits and tentative tract map changes being allowed.  A court challenge could result in costly litigation exposure for the city.  The staff analysis should be improved to review all the issues objectively and offer support for staff interpretations of the TCP requirements.   Adequate staking/story poles should be required per the TCP.  A parking plan should be in place.

Most importantly, the Council should allow voters to express their desire regarding development through the newly elected city council rather than  having a rushed approval by a “lame duck” council.  Once Majestic’s project is approved, the entitlements would be irrevocable and cannot be withdrawn by the new council.

A Call to Action

We hope residents will send an email to each council member at addresses shown on the Dana Point City Council website to voice their opposition to the approval of Majestic’s project.  Please attend the city council meeting on October 21 at 6:00 PM at the Dana Point Community Center, located at 34052 Del Obispo.     

Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development (DPRRD) was formed to support the Town Center Plan and development projects in the city which enhance the quality of life and make Dana Point attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.  


{See www.danapointtimes.com/current-issue/  page 8}


  

TOWN CENTER “SPECIAL INTEREST” GROUP

The Town Center Committee.org  has been the prime supporter of the city’s Town Center street improvements.  Councilman Bill Brough and Councilman Carlos Olvera are members of this special interest group and voted 3-2 recently with Councilman Weinberg to spend $7.7 million on Del Prado street improvements.   The Town Center  improvements are amounting to over $20 million, mainly benefiting Town Center property owners.

Residents fear that one of the objectives of this special interest group is to promote the need for a zoning change allowing 4 or more stories throughout Town Center, which would enhance the value of their properties.  Citing the denial of the Majestic variance, their justification for a zoning change would be that projects don’t “pencil out” for developers at three stories.  Harold Kaufman, also a member of this group, has already suggested a zoning change and Alan Wickstrom has said “no variances period” but doesn’t mention  zoning changes.

Candidates Joe Muller, Harold Kaufman and Alan Wickstrom are all closely aligned with and endorsed by members of this group.  If elected to the city council they could be influenced to support zoning changes or other modifications to the Town Center Plan not  in the best interest of Dana Point residents.

  

ARE RESIDENTS BEING DECEIVED ?

Dana Point is still in the process of asking taxpayers to pay the $20 million for palm trees and sidewalks for Town Center in order to encourage new development.   Luna-Reynosa called this investment “rolling the dice” and knew that speeding development  in Town Center would require allowing more residential units or additional building height.   Hence her recommendation for Majestic’s approval with the four story variance.

So it is probably  no surprise that progress is so slow for new development in the Town Center.   Still,  the Planning Department should not be seeking approval of non conforming projects just to rush development in an attempt to justify the costly investment being made by the city.  Residents should be treated honestly and fairly by the city.     



October 4, 2014

MAJESTIC SEEKS APPROVAL


  • Majestic will seek approval at the Planning Commission meeting, Monday, October 6 a the Dana Point Community Center, 34052 Del Obispo at 6:00 PM
  • The Dana Point Community Development Department is recommending approval
  • Residents do not agree with the Department's interpretation of the Town Center Plan used to justify the variances and other exceptions
  • The fourth story of residences should be eliminated for all phases because it is not allowed in the town Center Plan and requires an unlawful variance
  • The project 's computation of needed parking spaces is inadequate, creating a burden to nearby residential neighborhoods; location of in lieu spaces has not been determined 
  • There need to be additional architectural improvements
  • Residents deserve to see the size of these buildings through staking, as required
  • All decorative and unnecessary features above the 40 foot limit should be eliminated    


September 4, 2014

LETTER SENT TO CITY MANAGER 

A plea was sent to the Dana Point City Manager, Doug Chatkevys, requesting that the staff fix the broken system to review and approve major development projects.    The Majestic Development project has been handled very poorly to date by the city and particularly the Community Development Department.    Community Development rushed this project through a series of unpublicised story poling for less than 24 hours per building.   Then published a glowing recommendation in a staff report made available only one day before a Planning Committee meeting scheduled to review and approve the project.

Outraged residents scrambled to the meeting to make comments on the huge variances to codes and the Town Center Plan.  The Commissioners at the meeting commented that the variances and special conditional use requests seemed unjustified and therefore the project approval was not given.   The issue has been continued through another meeting and now is scheduled for a third meeting on September 8, 2014.    The letter on the link below asks that the total staff analyze all the identified issues, negotiate with the developer to solve the issues, and then recommend action with analysis of why those actions are in the best interest of the entire community (residents, visitors and merchants).

Plea to City Staff



August 24, 2014

 URGENT DANA POINT QUESTIONS

·         Is the Dana Point city council representing the best interests of ALL Dana Point residents?

·         Are city councilmen too closely allied with Town Center interests and Dana Point developers?  

·         Are they rushing development projects through before residents can elect three new city councilmen in November? 

·         Dana Point residents must act now before it’s too late.


Councilmen Bill Brough and Carlos Olvera serve on a Town Center Committee, along with several Town Center property and business owners, advising the city’s spending on $20+ million for Town Center.  With the closely allied Councilman Steven Weinberg, the three councilmen recently high jacked a city council meeting and voted to quickly appropriate $7.7 million of Dana Point cash and reserves for Del Prado sidewalks and palm trees.  During this time, developers and Town Center property owners have contributed to Mr. Brough’s campaign for election to the state legislature.

On September 16, the city council will be hearing the appeal from the developer of the Doheny Hotel to overturn the unanimous denial of the project by the Planning Commission.  This project is an overbuilt, 258 room eyesore, on a small lot, requesting multiple variances and using Lantern Bay Park land.  Mr. Brough has already stated that he will NOT recuse himself  because of the campaign donations.  Rather than working with residents and the Planning Commission, does the developer feel he already has three city council votes needed to easily approve the project?

The Majestic project in Town Center was presented to the Planning Commission for approval by the Dana Point Community Development Department with amazing speed.   Was the city staff under pressure to hurry up the process?  The project was recommended for approval although it contained multiple variance requests, special permits and city concessions.  No information was given to residents or required staking done prior to the Planning Commission meeting.  This project will come before the Planning Commission again on September 8. 

Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development (DPRRD) supports growth and suitable projects in Dana Point that conform to zoning regulations.  Please attend the Planning Commission meeting for the Town Center Majestic Project on Monday, September 8, and the City Council meeting on the Doheny Hotel appeal on Tuesday, September 16.  It is urgent that Dana Point residents act now.    



August 12, 2014

Majestic Project Continued to the September 8 Planning Commission Meeting

 

At the August 11 Planning Commission meeting, Majestic Development proposed some changes that were well received by the residents and Planning Commissioners.  These included opening the ground floor buildings to allow the public into the courtyard area of Phase I and to create a courtyard area for the public in Phase II.  (These are the buildings on the west and east sides of Amber lantern.)  Drawings showed several outdoor seating areas for nearby restaurants.  The exteriors of the buildings included more decorative features and the alley way was lowered so that Majestic is no longer requesting an extra variance to exceed the 40 foot limit.  Majestic stressed that these drawings were a work in progress and promised more improvements in the future.

 

While we appreciate the effort Majestic has made to “listen” to us, no mention was made to eliminate the variance request for the 4th floor.  This remains one of the most contentious issues of this project.  So, I guess the question is whether Majestic can wear us down with continued cosmetic improvements or whether we can continue to exert pressure to make this project conform to the requirements of the Town Center Plan.

 

We want to see Town Center develop.  However, we also need to get off in the right direction.  The city asked residents to pay $24 million for this Town Center Plan.  All we are asking in return is for the city to insist that the developers follow that Plan.  This process has been continued to the September 8 Planning Commission meeting.  Hope to see you there.  We need everyone to send the same message!

 

FOLLOW THE PLAN AND WE WILL SUPPORT YOU!

 

 

Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development

 


Follow developments on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/DanaPointResidents  

This site has the latest info on the Majestic Project and all of Town Center. If you enjoy the observations of Dana Point residents please "like" the page and items.


To view the presentation made by Majestic Development on Aug 11, go to the internet link below and select the forth line down "Presentation".    This contains the proposed modifications to improve the project.

http://www.danapoint.org/index.aspx?page=753



Residents Form:

 Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development

DPRRD@cox.net

July 24, 2014

To Members of the City Council, Planning Commissioners and City Staff:

Dana Point residents are expressing their extreme disapproval of the proposed Majestic project in Town Center/Lantern District (“Project”) which was the subject of the most recent July 14, 2014 Planning Commission public hearing. As a result of widespread dissatisfaction with the Project and the approval process on this Project, we are organizing under the name Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development, or DPRRD.

This letter addresses the perception that vital information is being withheld from the public or released in a manner most likely to escape public notice in an effort to push through an undesirable Project “under the radar.”   Such action only foments distrust of the Project and those in control of the process.  If the City is behind this Project and believes the majority of Dana Point residents will be of the same view, there is every reason to give this Project maximum exposure and public visibility.

We want to ensure that Dana Point residents are informed of the Project’s existence, learn where and when to attend public forums to express their opinions and see first-hand the full impact of the Project as envisioned by the architects. To that end, we are asking that Community Development and Planning Department take or implement the following actions:

 

  • Erect story poles on all corners of the buildings at the same time and with flags at the Project’s proposed heights, including the elevator shafts. Let people actually see the Project’s impact on the area.  

  • Keep the story poles in place for at least one week. Many cities have significant minimum times required for the poles so their public impact, positive or negative, can be adequately revealed. The 24 hour display of the story poles this past July 4 weekend when many residents were gone was completely unreasonable and further feeds the sense of secrecy surrounding the Project.

  • Display signage with information about the Project and the artist’s rendering of this major Project on lots facing PCH and Del Prado.

  • Give the public more than the minimum notice required. Make several announcements in the local newspapers before a public hearing or event.

  • Change the public meeting locations to the Community Center. The room used for the Planning Commission meeting on July 14 was too small. It did not allow many attendees to even be in the room much less be able to sit for the many hours over which the meeting took place. Public input should be welcomed for a project the city views as exciting and popular. 


Sincerely,

Dana Point Residents for Responsible Development

 

www.facebook.com/DanaPointResidents


DPRRD Flyer



MAJESTIC PROJECT

July 12, 2014

Next Planning Commission Meeting Aug 11

On Aug 11 Majestic Development will request variances from the Planning Commission to allow three buildings on seven lots in Town Center to have four stories instead of the three permitted in the Town Center Plan and to exceed the 40 foot limit. The owner is requesting approval to include 30,000 square feet of retail space and 111 condo units needing 337+ parking spaces on both sides of Amber Lantern between PCH and Del Prado and on the west side of Violet Lantern between PCH and Del Prado.  There will be two levels of subterranean parking but the developer also asks to pass on the obligation to supply 63 parking spaces to the City of Dana Point. 


LINK to Majestic Project Details

LINK to Elevations And Plot Map for Majestic Project    

LINK to Staff Public Notice


June 20, 2014

DANA POINT CONTROVERSY

TOWN CENTER WILL TAKE $20 MILLION FROM CITY


  • $7.7 Million in Deficit Spending Approved for Del Prado Improvements 
  • Residents Deserved Detailed Costs and a Report on Depleted Reserves
  • City Needlessly Rushing Del Prado Improvements
  • City Council Appears Controlled by Town Center Committee
  • Town Center improvements will total $20 million in two years 


LINK to Council Completes $20+ Million Deficit Spending



June 20, 2014

TOWN CENTER IS RUNNING THE CITY


In November three new people will be elected to the city council.  At the council meeting, it was urged that the council wait for the election and let the residents and the new council decide on the timing of funding for Del Prado. But bear in mind that two of the three councilmen who voted for the amendment will be replaced in that election.   Rushing the decision on Del Prado shows that three members of this council don’t care what the residents think.  Or worse, that three councilmen and the Town Center Committee orchestrated this vote because they thought residents would disapprove.  In either case, it was obvious that the Town Center Committee is running  Dana Point. 

Watch the video of the meeting that should be provided at the Dana Point website to see this shameful council meeting for yourself. (See discussion of agenda item 15.)  The council as a whole is not being given the chance to develop a successful Town Center plan because three councilmen are allied with the Town Center Committee and ramrodding the improvements.   Go to the Town Center.org website to see the cast of characters involved.  Dana Point residents are footing the bill for Town Center but are being given no respect or consideration in return.



May 2014

$600,000 DEL PRADO SIGN


Since the Town Center plan was adopted by the city several years ago, there has been almost no community oversight or involvement in the project.  Recently, a $600,000 "bridge" at the northern entrance to Del Prado was approved by the city council. At the council meeting it appeared that this entry feature was decided upon by Carlos Olvera and Brad Fowler, with input from Del Prado businesses. Incidentally, this is in addition to money allocated for Town Center. Here is a picture of the feature:


Does this look like $600,000?  There was no community input and only one architect was consulted to design and construct it.  Shouldn't community input be required for what will be a Dana Point landmark for decades to come?  Community input and oversight should be required on Town Center. 

By the way, have you noticed that somehow the name was changed from Town Center to the Lantern District? The Town Center sign that exists at the southern entrance to Dana Point is now considered a mistake that will have to be redone. 





March 18, 2014

CITY COUNCIL PASSES TOWN CENTER RESOLUTIONS 

 

  • City to proceed with Town Center Lantern District entry features estimated at $600,000
  • City reduces developer fees by eliminating the City Wide Development Impact Fee and Transportation Facilities Development Fee
  • City offers incentive to developers by a further reduction of fees of up to 20%
  • Representative of building industry says city should consider raising the height allowance in Town Center from 40 feet to 65 feet

 



TOWN CENTER REALITY CHECK:  “THE CITY IS ROLLING THE DICE”

                            

  • Dana Point taxpayers are paying $13 million for just the first phase of project
  • Developers will pay very little and property owners pay nothing
  • Parking and height requirements of plan being questioned 
  • Dana Point staff admits to "rolling the dice"

Residents generally support the Town Center/Lantern District project, designed to beautify the city and encourage new business development.  While the concept is appealing, Dana Point taxpayers who are funding the project should be warned that, in reality, the project is an ambitious and costly undertaking for our city.  As admitted by Dana Point staff at the March 18th council meeting, the city is “rolling the dice” by fronting the development costs.  Although construction has begun, several key issues still need to be resolved. 


Financing is a major concern.  Dana Point is spending $13 million for just the first phase of the project, which is 45% of the city’s anticipated 2014 income of approximately $29 million.  The city is also considering spending $590,000 just for entrance features including a decorative bridge and banners. This year’s large budget deficit will be funded from the city’s reserves, mainly to cover the Town Center project.  Phase two of the project could cost an additional $7 to $9 million, bringing the total estimated cost to $21 million.   Anticipated development fees will return only 15% of the cost to the city, although developers typically pay the majority of the cost.  Property owners in Town Center are also receiving a gift from taxpayers by not being asked to contribute to the cost of their improvements.  


The Town Center plan assumes that the improvements will stimulate retail and residential development.  However, at the joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting, the council was told by its consultant that the parking requirements in the plan appear to be an impediment for developers.   The city is now considering reducing the number of required parking spaces, which will impact nearby residents.  A representative of the building industry told the council that the height limit in Town Center is a major obstacle for developers to overcome.  He recommended raising the limit from 40 feet to 65 feet.  Raising the height allowance would encourage developers and increase property values in Town Center but would adversely impact our community.   

    

With the construction of phase one almost complete, the city should stop “rolling the dice” with taxpayer money.  Dana Point’s resources are limited and the city must satisfy its many obligations throughout Dana Point and be able to fund other important programs that benefit residents and attract visitors.  Hopefully Town Center will begin to meet expectations by actual requests for building permits. Until then, the city council should reconsider future spending on the project and give priority to the financial well being of all of Dana Point.       

 


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Betty Hill,
Mar 24, 2014, 10:16 AM
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