Letter: A Dana Point Resident Speaks

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Thirteen years ago, after three years in Laguna Beach, I was driven out by overpriced real estate and greedy landlords. I landed in Dana Point, what I fondly called SoLag [South of Laguna.] Having lived in both towns, I’d like to defend my adopted home by pointing out to the Village Laguna tribe that the contrast is apples and oranges. Yes, this city has been in the throes of a long-debated development plan. Now, instead of being a speedway from Laguna to San Clemente, we have a little downtown, and with it, the energy of younger people, new restaurants, bakeries and beer halls, shops, and services. We have concerts and rock music events, a sweet farmers market, movies in the park in summer, and a vibrant Senior Center.

We can jump on the Freeway to get wherever we like without being captive to Canyon traffic or Coast Highway, or head east to charming San Juan Capistrano. We have lovely beaches, but we’re more than a beach town, and we have tourists, but we appreciate them. Our NextDoor is not filled with angry rhetoric or finger-pointing. Our city council meetings are civil, as a rule. We talk, we plan, we disagree, we compromise. Sometimes we are forced to a proposition vote on a specific issue, and then we accept the outcome and move on. Yes, we have mixed-use buildings now, and a few more to come, which would never suit the Laguna Beach landscape or Planning Commission, we all know that, so please stop comparing the two and stop disparaging your nearest neighbor. Find a way to make your case based on fact not fear-mongering. Nothing is perfect and change is inevitable, often for the good. You have enough to manage in Laguna Beach—you don’t have to talk trash about us, or each other.

Randy Kraft, Dana Point resident and former city reporter for The Independent

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for writing to express your views based on actual experience of living in both places. The fear mongering and nastiness in Laguna has really started to overshadow its natural beauty. Compromise and tolerance are seldom exhibited in this town. I’ve found the best thing to do is ignore the local vitriol and spend more time at the beach and in the water.

  2. Thank you, Randy. I too have noticed the false equivalencies and the tired meme of, “Look what happened to Dana Point. We don’t want that here.” It took a lot of political will and foresight to re-work a major thoroughfare and create a downtown. And Dana Point accomplished it by creating mixed use residential with ground floor retail, plus traffic calming measures, landscaping, and the filling of vacant lots. Now younger people can afford to live in a walkable, vibrant, urban setting that will define the town for years to come. Is it perfect yet? No, but it will get there. Hats off to the visionary planners in Dana Point.

  3. I too have lived in both and left Laguna because it was singling it’s self out making it more of an exclusive club. I fell in love with Laguna Beach in the Late 80’s because it was different cool and hip. I get that they want to keep that vibe, the the exclusive attitude must change in my point and the police attitudes are awful.

    Dana Point is such that it’s a more modern take in beach city living, I like the renovation to the area.

    I currently live in Spain mulit-use buildings are essential to each Barrio aka neighborhood. Each business serving it’s tenants and it’s immediate locals. If done properly it boosts the local economy and makes living easier so there’s not much of a reliability on ones car.
    Which I know Laguna Beach has parking problems.
    For the past several years we spend our summers in Dana Point/ San Clemente or in Pacific Beach San Diego we go to Laguna Beach once or twice a season. It’s lost it’s vibe for me now it seems like it’s trying too hard to be cool and hip. It’s just old and rusty.

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