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Plea to City Staff

August 27, 2014

Mr. Doug Chatkevys

City Manager

Dana Point


Dear Doug,

The Majestic Project has started off on the wrong foot.   There has been some positive progress but vital issues still need to be negotiated and resolved before final approval should be sought.

The Planning Commission and City Council are part time jobs that rely on competent, professional staff to do a thorough job of analyzing submissions of developers on major projects.  The staff report should represent the interests of the total community (residents, visitors, and businesses). 

To move the Majestic Project forward, the staff report should examine all the outstanding issues in the project.   Each issue should be developed to highlight alternative solutions.  The city staff should then justify its recommended course of action.   The following issues, many of which were not addressed by the City Staff, need to be covered:


1.      Fourth story variance versus Town Center Plan (3) - adds 40 condos


2.     Height Variances – to serve small roof decks in a corner of each building the numerous roof towers for stair wells and elevators reach up to 56 feet above ground level; parapets and decorative walls on roof require variances to the Town Center Plan (TCP); reference levels for height are based on PCH elevations for lots on Del Prado adding 4 to 5 feet to height; projection of equipment screening requested over the 42” limit 


3.     No Loading Zones


4.     Floor Area Ratio variance required  – Phase 2 & 3 exceed 2.5 limit in Town Center Plan zoning code


5.     Parking – Community Development reduced the requirements on the developer without analysis or justification – 12 spaces on Lantern streets credited to developer, 23 guest spaces required by zoning eliminated, 10 parking space requirements eliminated because bicycle spaces were provided


6.     Set Back requirements for floors over 30 feet – all three phases violate the requirement to be set back 10 feet from lower floors on street fronts


7.      Ratio of Condos to Retail and Restaurant – Town Center Plan emphasized “pedestrian friendly”, “small town village atmosphere” with about 1/3 retail and restaurant and 2/3 office and residential (237 residences in entire Town Center estimated) – Majestic Project jams 111 condos on to 2.2 acres of the 75 acre Town Center – 12% of building area is retail & restaurant and 88% condos


8.     Long Term Parking Solution – Town Center Plan says to “create additional public parking which would include one and preferably two facilities prior to beginning roadway construction” – the City has failed to take action to positively identify any long term parking, yet is ready to sell in lieu parking to developers at 25% of estimated cost – this forces overflow parking into the neighborhoods


9.     Traffic Impact – Community Development has not analyzed the effect on traffic of the project to identify issues and solutions – narrower streets, congested access to parking garages, no loading zones, stop signs and elimination of Violet Lantern left turn intersection


10. Give Away of Alley – Community Development proposed to give the developer the alley right of way to build 2 stories of condos over it and 2 layers of parking under the alley with no compensation to Dana Point such as providing extra public parking


11.   Town Center Plan requires story poling for all encroachments over 40 feet


City Staff should be negotiating with Majestic Development to move the proposed project to meet the needs of Dana Point.  The Planning Commission and public meeting should be held only when the full staff report (approved by the City Manager) and the finalized proposal from Majestic are available.    These must be published to the Commissioners and the public for at least one week prior to a meeting where approval is being sought.

This project could shape the character of the Town Center/Lantern District for the next 50 years.   The City Manager should lead the way to success by defining a process to review major development projects such as Majestic and the Doheny Hotel.    This process must identify all issues early and then negotiate for Dana Point with the developer to minimize or eliminate variances and then gain approval for the major project.   The Planning Commission or City Council can provide wise judgments on final approvals if the City Staff does a thorough, professional job.  This will lead to rapid approval with community support for worthy projects.



Buck Hill