Doheny Hotel Proposal

October 7, 2014


At tonight's city council meeting,the Developer of the Doheny Hotel was scheduled to present changes in the project to gain its approval.  At the meeting it was announced that on October 6 a letter was received from the developer withdrawing the application for approval. The developer stated his intention to submit a new plan to the Planning Commission which would be more in compliance with the city's zoning codes.  The new plans would address the concerns expressed by the city council, the planning commission and the community. No time frame was given for this process to begin.

September 17, 2014





At the September 16, city council meeting,  the appeal of the Doheny Hotel project was discussed for several hours until 11:00 PM.  Residents spoke against many aspects of the project including the unlawful variances requested for height and setbacks, the unattractive hotel  elevations,  the high density land use and the use of .76 acres of Lantern Bay Park land.  The city council didn’t approve the project, but Councilmen Weinberg, Olvera and Brough placed residents in a last chance “Do or Die” situation.

While the City Council suggested that more changes were required,  our three councilmen, Olvera, Weinberg and Brough voted to give this developer one last chance for approval at the October 7 city council meeting.    But this really isn’t a last chance for the developer, who will always have the option of going back to the Planning Commission with a revised project.  In reality, this is a “Do or Die” proposition for residents, who will barely have a chance to see any proposed changes and no opportunity to appeal the decision.

The appropriate action, supported by Councilmen Bartlett and Schoeffel would have been to send this back to the Planning Commission, the most knowledgeable  about the details of the project.  Councilman Brough, who received campaign donations from this developer, did not voluntarily recuse himself from voting, as requested by residents (his was the deciding vote). Regarding the use of the park's land, Dana Point's legal counsel , Patrick Munoz, felt he could find a way to circumvent the requirements of the Lantern Bay deed restrictions.  

Once again Councilman Brough, Olvera and Weinberg showed their favoritism toward special interests and developers at the expense of residents, who they purport to represent.  This threesome  is joined by other Town Center Committee members Mike Powers, Harold Kaufman and  Bob Theel (paid advocate for the Doheny Hotel). 

Residents need to know that city council candidate Harold Kaufman is endorsed by Messrs. Theel, Brough, Powers, and Wickstrom.  Candidate Muller is endorsed by Messrs. Powers, Olvera, and Theel.  Candidate Wickstrom  is supported by Weinberg, Olvera, Kaufman and Powers.  No matter what these candidates say to win votes, can they really be TRUSTED?

Major decisions that favor developers over residents and affect the future of Dana Point  are being made by this incestuous group of people.  The city staff is also under the direction of this city council.  The residents of Dana Point deserve better representation.       

September 17, 2014



In another action at the September 16 Dana Point city council meeting, Councilman Brough along with Councilmen Olvera and Weinberg voted to immediately spend $7.7 million on the Del Prado improvements, making the total spent in 24 months on Town Center more than $17.1 million, taken  from the city’s reserves.

Residents were hoping for a more fiscally responsible approach to the use of this money and a budgeted plan, given the fact that the Town Center build out will probably take 10 to 15 years.  So far the only benefit of the spending has been to property owners in Town Center. Perhaps a fiscally prudent decision from Mr. Brough should not have been anticipated, since a "Notice of Default"on his home mortgage was filed in Orange County.

The use of taxpayer money on the Town Center Plan, which was referred to by the city's Planning Department as "rolling the dice", and the huge discounts on development fees being offered as an incentive to Dana Point developers seem incompatible with Mr. Brough’s conservative claims and campaign promises.   Mr. Brough also accepted campaign donations from a developer whose project is under consideration by the council and declined from voluntarily recusing himself, as requested by residents. His was the deciding vote on a recent decision regarding this project.

Voters need to ask :  Is this whom we can trust to be capable of making prudent decisions and represent us, not special interest groups,  in the state assembly?  Is a lack of personal, fiscal responsibility a suitable character trait for someone who will be handling millions of dollars of taxpayer money?

September 16, 2014


City Council Meeting  September 16

Community Center – Del Obispo  6:00 PM



·      The Planning Commission after extensive review of the project unanimously rejected this project.   Now the developer has appealed the decision to the City Council.   Unfortunately several Council members seem to be so pro development that they may vote to approve the project.    Residents must express their objections to make the council aware of voter outrage. 

·       Residents feel the density, size and height of this hotel on such a small lot are unsuitable for the location and result in ugly hotel elevations, particularly along the important PCH corridor, where the view would be unsightly rows of windows, blank walls and delivery vehicles and cause an unavoidable negative impact on the appearance of Dana Point and views from neighboring properties.

·       It should also be noted that while residents would support a suitable hotel on the site, there was considerable opposition at Planning Commission meetings regarding the Doheny Hotel project.  Many residents feel that because the project was denied by the Planning Commission it is no longer under consideration by the city.

·       The Final EIR dated July 2013 stated that “the project is not consistent with the goals of the DPSP, since the project appears incompatible in scale, mass and form with adjacent structures and development pattern of the neighborhood.” (page 3.1-28)  It further states regarding Option B that “…land use impacts would remain significant and unavoidable.”  (page 291)

·       The impact on traffic, deliveries, noise, glare and bicycle safety at this busiest intersection in Dana Point has not been adequately addressed.  There are many conditions imposed by the city for this project that would be difficult if not impossible to monitor, such as the percentage of deliveries allowed on PCH. 

·       The exit of vehicles from the hotel  with a U-turn on Harbor Drive close to PCH would hinder  the ability of people to enter Doheny State Beach and the Harbor.

·       It is  unclear how delivery trucks would access the hotel’s PCH delivery area if coming from the 5 Fwy,  which could result in dangerous u-turns on PCH or at other  Dana Point intersections.

·       Developer has stated he desires to sell the project to a 4 star hotel chain. Dana Point has a surfeit of 4 star hotels,  some encountering financial difficulty in the past and ownership changes.  To justify the requested variances, has the developer provided  any occupancy  projections or any  financial data  to determine whether this hotel would be successful and a benefit to Dana Point?  Residents believe that this hotel would undermine the city’s high quality, “4 star” reputation and the occupancy and room  rates of existing four star hotels. Several hotels have voiced their criticism of this project.



·       If the developer is considering changes from the plan he submitted to the Planning Commission, it would be appropriate for the plan to be resubmitted to the Planning Commission rather than the City Council for consideration.

·       The Dana Point zoning code for the Doheny Hotel is 35 feet.

·       The Doheny Hotel contains six stories not five as indicated.  First floor 52,595 sq. ft.; mezzanine floor 24,648 sq. ft.; second (third) floor 42,520 sq. ft.; third (fourth) floor  39,550 sq. ft.;  fourth (fifth) floor 25,953 sq. ft. ; fifth (sixth) floor 25,050 sq. ft.  Total square footage 210,316 sq. ft.  

·       The height of the hotel is 68.5  feet, 33.5  feet over the allowed limit thereby requiring variances;  variances are also being requested for zero rear and side setbacks which will adversely affect adjacent properties.

·       The hotel’s 250 rooms in 1.5 acres is an unacceptable density of 167 rooms per acre.   

·       The maximum floor area ratio (FAR) is in the Dana Point zoning code is 1.75;  although this FAR apparently does not explicitly apply to this project, the hotel greatly exceeds this limit at 3.21 (210,316 sq. feet of building space in 1.5 acres).  The Planning Department has not taken the time to get the Dana Point zoning code approved for this area.  Approving this project with this FAR would set a dangerous precedent for other projects in this area. 

·       The entrance way  would require a 24.5  foot high retaining wall to maintain the entranceway’s 17 foot elevation.  The contour lines indicate that the far side of the entrance way has an elevation of approximately 41 feet.  This will create an unsightly and dangerous wall that would be seen when entering the Harbor area, rather than the natural hillside of the park.

·       This wall would require four or five feet of additional height for safety purposes. The city could be held responsible for accidents by allowing this dangerous and unacceptable feature in a public park where children could fall over 25 or 30 feet unto the concrete below. 

·       The parking levels are so densely packed, with lifts, tandem parking and parking in the aisles, it will make the retrieval of cars extremely difficult.  This is the result of the unacceptable density of the hotel.

·       The Planning Commission after considerable study took issue with the number of parking spaces provided by the hotel, feeling it was inadequate.



·       The Hotel plans to use .76 acres of Lantern Bay Park land as an entrance to the hotel.  The use of Lantern Bay Park land in exchange for 50 public parking spaces is a gimmick.  They are primarily valet, impossible to monitor and will probably be used by hotel patrons.  The grant is a huge benefit to the developer, increasing the size of his property by 51% from 1.5 acres to 2.26 acres. (Plans indicate that all the public parking spaces will be valet.)  

·       The lack of onsite parking for employees numbering at least 100 people for a 4 star hotel of this size offsets any possible parking benefit to the public.

·       Residents, therefore, hereby request that Lantern Bay Park land be excluded for use in the Doheny Hotel project.  It is a valuable, prime location along Harbor Drive and has the potential for future use for public good such as for a skateboard area, a visitor center, restrooms an attractive fountain or garden, a trolley stop….

·       Attached is a copy of the Grant Deed for Lantern Bay Park in which Orange County transfers ownership of the park to Dana Point.  Item 6  NO TRANSFERS states  “Grantee [ Dana Point] shall not sell, convey, assign, or transfer its rights in the Property except to another public entity to be used for open space park purposes.” There could also be deed restrictions from the transfer of the property from the original owner to Orange County.

·       It would be hard to understand how the project could be approved prior to the granting of the use of the park’s land, since the hotel’s entrance is an integral part of the hotel’s design.  Any approval of the project, therefore , should be conditioned on the land grant being legal and after it has been approved at a future city council meeting.



·       The variances requested do not meet the necessary legal requirements and would be unlawful.   Any economic or visual benefits to the city as suggested by the developer for his project are not valid justifications for a variance.  Approving these variances would be irresponsible and would promote litigation costly to the city.

·      Developer has stated that he desires to sell the project to a 4 star hotel chain, which require the large number of rooms and hotel facilities.  An increase in profit  is the developer’s motivation in asking for variances. 

·      The legality of using Lantern Bay Park land for this project is discussed above.  The granting of rights to use parkland is contrary to the deed restrictions when the park was transferred to Dana Point and will undoubtedly be challenged in court.

·      Attached please find a copy of a Los Angeles Times article about litigation against the city of Hollywood for granting unlawful variances to Target. Residents hereby request that the city council avoid granting illegal or even questionable variances or take an action regarding the park land that could result in costly litigation.

·       The developer contributed to the election campaign of one council member and attempted to do so with a second.  This gives the appearance of trying to influence the vote on this project.  Residents hereby request that, to avoid the appearance of impropriety,  any council member who has received such funds voluntarily recuse himself from voting on this project.

·       It is hoped that the Beverly Hills Hospitality Group, the developer,  as a good faith gesture but not as a requirement for approval will pay any fees owed the city to date and before it might again file for bankruptcy owing the city substantial funds. 



FOR A VALUABLE  CONSIDERATION, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the COUNTY       OF                     ORANGE,              a     political        subdivision         of    the     State     of    California,    a

- (the "Grantor"), hereby grants to  the  CITY  OF DANA  POINT,  a California municipal corporation ("Grantee"), that certain real property ("Property") located in

the City of Dana Point, County of Orange, State of California, described in the legal description attached  hereto  as Attachment   No.  l  and  incorporated  herein  by  this  reference,  subject  to  all matters of record, and further subject to all of the following:


1.             Maintenance   Obligations   of   Grantee.     Grantee  shall  be  responsible  to  maintain  the Property in a good condition and repai r, in accordance with the Grantee's maintenance  standards for public parks.


2.             Use  as Public  Park.   The Property  shall be restricted,  in perpetuity,  for use as an  open space public park, and may not be used for any other purpose, except uses incidental to  park uses.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, Grantee shall have the right to reserve the use of all  or a portion of the Property, for limited durations, for public events, private events (e.g. weddings) or events sponsored by Grantee. Grantee shall also have the right to close all or  portions of the Property for maintenance  and repairs,  as determined  reasonably  necessary by  the City,  in the City's discretion.


3.             No Construction or Improvements. Grantee shall not construct any improvements on the Property which would be considered inconsistent with park uses  or  amenities.  It is acknowledged that grantee may add an amphitheater or restrooms in the future to enhance the uses of the park by the public. Grantee will cooperate with County on possible removal/replanting of trees with regard to HOA view concerns tied to the Harbor revitalization project.


4.             Zoning.  The Property shall remain zoned as open space, for park use.


5.             No Leases. Grantee shall not enter into any lease agreements inconsistent with park uses with respect to all or any portion of the Prope1iy.


 6.             No Transfers. Grantee shall not sell, convey, assign, or transfer its rights in the Property, except to another public entity to be used for open space park purposes.


7.            As-Is." Grantee represents and warrants to Grantor that Grantee has made its own independent inspection of the Property and, except for Grantor's indemnification obligations set forth in Section 7 of that certain Agreement for Conveyance of Property, between Grantor and Grantee of even date herewith, Grantee hereby agrees to accept the Property in its "as-is" condition.


[signatures on next page]




The land situated in the City of Dana Point, County of Orange, State of California, described as follows:

[That portion of Tract No. 959 in the City of Dana Point, County of Orange, State of California, as per map filed in Book 30, pages 46 through 50 inclusive of Miscellaneous Maps in the office of the County Recorder of said county and that portion of Lot 2 of fractional Section 23, T8S, R8W, S.B.M., and that portion of the Rancho Boca de La Playa as shown on a map recorded June 29, 1887 in Book 4, pages 118 and 1 19 of Patents, Records of Los Angeles County, California described in a deed to the County of Orange recorded on January 5, 1982 as Document No. 82-0001971 of Official Records in the office of said County Recorder.


EXCEPTING THEREFROM that certain right of way for road purposes" as reserved and described in said deed to the County of Orange.]


August 24, 2014


·         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 $24 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 assembly.

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?  Is he in a hurry because two of his supporters will soon term out of their city council seats?

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 17, 2014


The city council meeting to hear the Doheny Hotel appeal is scheduled for September 16.  Before then please write your city councilmen to urge them to uphold the Planning Commission denial of this project.  Here are the email addresses of your councilmen:



August 3, 2014




Dana Point City Council Meeting September 16

Dana Point City Hall  5:30 PM

·         VARIANCE :  Hotel height is 68.5 feet – 33.5 feet over the allowed 35 feet 

·         VARIANCE:   Hotel is 5 stories when only 3 stories are allowed

·         VARIANCE:  Project requires variances for zero rear and side setbacks

·         City will provide .76 acres of public parkland for the hotel’s entrance; a 50% increase in the size of the property

·         Project has 258 rooms on 1.5 acres – 172 rooms per acre

·         Average Density of Marriott, Best Western, Ritz Carlton, Doubletree and St Regis is 58.6 rooms per acre

·         Traffic congestion at busiest Dana Point intersection; proposed development projected to generate 1,409 additional daily vehicle trips weekdays and 1,266 on Saturdays per traffic report

·         35% of loading and deliveries provided on Pacific Coast Highway

·         Significant increase in traffic at entrance to Doheny State Beach where U-Turn is required by people exiting the hotel

·         Parking provided is questionable with allowed public parking being mainly valet

·         Approval would set a precedent for future development



·         Despite efforts to provide visual relief, the project is not consistent with the goals of the Dana Point Specific Plan, since the project is incompatible in scale, mass and form

·         Property’s height and bulk not consistent with other structures and introduces a higher density land use


June 21, 2014


When the Planning Commission rejected the Doheny Hotel project it cited the gross nature of the variance requests and the fact that the square acre density and size of the project were excessive for the lot. While many residents vigorously opposed the project, some liked it because the hotel would replace the unattractive shack that is currently on the site.  I hope they will consider the following facts:   

The project consists of 250 rooms on 1.5 acres with the use of an additional .76 acres of Lantern Bay Park land, a 50% increase in the size of the developer's parcel.  Including the parkland, the density is 111 rooms per acre.  Without the city's park land it would be 166 rooms per acre. (It is questionable why the developer was allowed public park land for his project.)  The project entails 5 stories, when three are allowed,and up to 68.5 feet, requiring a variance of approximately 40 feet over the allowed 35 feet.  Variances are also required to allow zero rear and side setbacks. (The average rooms per acre of the Marriott, Best Western, Ritz Carlton, Doubletree and St Regis is 58.6 rooms per acre.)  

Other factors considered included the fact that the project is located at the busiest intersection of the city creating traffic and safety issues. Exiting the hotel would require U-Turns at the state park and 35% of the hotel's loading and unloading would be needed on PCH.  The amount of hotel parking provided in the plan was questioned. The majority of public parking allowed in the plan was for valet parking. The entrance to the hotel would be located on the Lantern Bay Park land.

The Environmental Impact Report stated that the final, revised proposal offered by the developer did not change the fact that the project would result in a significant impact on the existing visual character or quality of the site and the surrounding area. The negative impact from the massing of the project, the land use, the height and set back variances were found to be significant. Several options for the project were proposed more in keeping with Dana Point's requirements. So far the developer has rejected these options and has appealed the Planning Commission's decision to the City Council.

June 21, 2014


Several weeks ago the developer of the Doheny Hotel appealed to the Dana Point city council to overturn the Planning Commission's rejection of the project.  the Planning Commission rejected the proposal in April primarily because the height and density of the project did not meet city requirements.  Dana Point residents actively opposed the project as well. 

It is alarming to note that the Doheny Hotel developer has close ties to the Town Center Committee, a special interest group promoting the development of  Dana Point's Town Center.   Several members on the Town Center Committee have actively supported the Doheny Hotel project. Two city councilmen are on the Committee and some members serve as consultants. The developer of the hotel has donated campaign money to several city council members.

At the June 17 city council meeting, the Town Center Committee virtually controlled the city council and its vote to adjust the budget to include $7.7 million for Del Prado improvements in Town Center.   Residents should be concerned that the Committee will be controlling the vote when the appeal is heard by the city council.

The date for the city council to hear the appeal has not yet been determined.  Please see the Town Center section to read about the June 17 council meeting. 

April 19, 2014




    The Planning Commission's rejection of the Doheny Hotel Proposal was long overdue.  From the onset the proposal required major exceptions to the Dana Point building codes, more than doubling the acceptable height limit.  It incorporated Lantern Bay city parkland to create an entrance to the hotel.  Many of the developer's promises would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the city to enforce.  The extremely high density proposed for the hotel created major traffic and delivery truck problems on PCH and at the already congested intersection.

    The developer could take the proposal to the Dana Point city council, which could overturn the commission's ruling.  A mystery remains as to why the city staff spent so much time supporting this proposal and why the developer felt he could include city parkland for the entrance to the hotel.  The developer spent a great deal of money on the plans and an Environmental Impact Report when the commission's approval was highly unlikely.  Each councilman needs to act responsibly and reaffirm the commission's rejection of the proposal.  Failure do do so will make the council appear to be under the influence of the developer or a special interest group. 

    Developers who come to Dana Point need to know that the city leadership will support the vision the community chose for its future and insist that the city's regulations be followed in their projects. Only then will developers show the city the respect it deserves and propose projects that are mutually beneficial.



  • Height of hotel is 76 feet which far exceeds the 35 foot limit
  • Additional height vastly increases number of rooms to 258 and 5+ stories
  • Use of Lantern Bay public parkland adds additional property for enhanced entrance way
  • Setback at street is less than regulation allows, maximizing building size on lot
  • Value of his property is tripled, quadrupled or more


  • Unacceptable loss of public parkland 
  • Hotel height is doubled from 35 feet to 76 feet
  • Hotel is oversized for amount of property and does not meet setback requirements
  • Approval sets precedent for Hollywood like city environment
  • Added hotel capacity magnifies traffic congestion at busy intersection
  • Added hotel capacity creates no additional revenue for city due to over capacity at other hotels
  • Safe pedestrian and bicycle access not addressed
  • Hotel is inconsistent with Dana Point Specific Plan
  • Traffic flow for delivery trucks and autos is inadequate, particularly to/from 5 FWY
  • No analysis of additional traffic at intersection due to Harbor revitalization
  • Noise and light from outdoor pool and patios adversely affect nearby neighborhoods
  • Extra hotel capacity adds to city’s water and sewage requirements
  • Inadequate space and landscaping for Dana Point marker at corner as specified in Dana Point Specific Plan
  • Inordinate amount of time and money spent by Dana Point staff, Planning Commission and residents



  • Despite efforts to provide visual relief, the project is not consistent with the goals of the Dana Point Specific Plan, since the project is incompatible in scale, mass and form
  • The PCH Scenic Corridor Plan recommends two story height limitation 
  • Property’s height and bulk not consistent with other structures and introduces a higher density land use