DANA POINT : Housing for Resort Staff to Be Discussed

The lack of affordable housing for the city's numerous resort workers will highlight a special meeting of the City Council Monday at City Hall.

With two proposed major resorts expected to lure hundreds of workers to Dana Point in the next few years, the council on Monday will attempt to set guidelines on how the city and the resort developers should provide housing for them, said City Councilwoman Karen Lloreda.

"This is a fairly new problem around here, but times have changed," Lloreda said. "The city cannot be left to try and put the housing infrastructure in after the resorts are built. We need to think about this now."

The Monarch Beach Resort, which will include a five-star, 400-room hotel and championship golf course, and another resort on 27 acres overlooking Dana Point Harbor on the promontory called The Headlands, are expected to draw low-income employees who may not be able to afford the expensive housing common to Dana Point. Monarch Beach Resort alone is expected to lure about 600 workers, according to city estimates.

The city's recently approved General Plan calls for housing allotments for resort workers without specifying whether they would be on or off the resort site, and who should be responsible for them, said Ed Knight, the city's director of development.

"Any resort of the size of the Monarch Beach Resort will have to come up with a program to address the problem of housing its workers, whether it be providing housing on site or some sort of subsidy program," Knight said. "This is not a surprise to the developers that the city wants this. There are several options available, but our staff does not believe that the workers can afford the housing now available in the city."

Lloreda said it is her hope that the council provides the staff with guidelines on how to negotiate the housing problem with the developers.

"I'd like to see us throw a whole bunch of ideas on the table and come up with some options," Lloreda said.

Among those interested in solving the housing problem are representatives of the Lantern Village Assn., a group of homeowners and property owners from a congested area of town that now houses many low-income workers.

"Resort hotels attract the type of employees who tend to overcrowd nearby neighborhoods and negatively impact the neighborhoods," said John Kutschka, president of the association. "There may be 600 full-time employees, but (there will be) close to 2,000 employees if you include all the part-time people. We're not anti-growth, we're all business people, but we just want to make sure the problem of housing is spread evenly through the Dana Point area."

Mayor Mike Eggers said he hoped Monday's meeting will result in a variety of ideas from the Lantern Village Assn. and other interested parties.

"I'm sure the suggestions will run the full gamut from social engineering to simply letting the free marketplace handle the question of how and who should be responsible for resort-employee housing," Eggers said.

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