Planning Panel May Weigh In on Headlands

The first but definitely not the last word on the controversial Headlands project could be handed down Monday by the Planning Commission.

After months of public meetings, commissioners will consider five alternative plans for the proposed development of the 121-acre bluff-top property.

At issue is how much development will take place on the Headlands, one of the last large parcels of undeveloped coastal land in Orange County.

At opposite ends of the spectrum are the landowner's plans and a proposal from a citizens group that has successfully fought Headlands development for years. In the middle is a project concept created by city planners.

The Headlands is owned by M.H. Sherman Co. and Chandis Securities Co., a firm that oversees the financial holdings of the Chandler family, a major stockholder in Times Mirror Co., which publishes the Los Angeles Times.

The major difference among the various plans involves the number of housing units proposed. The landowner notes the city's general plan allows from 261 to 522 units. A coalition of residents and naturalists has countered with a proposal for 90 to 100 homes. The city has come up with a compromise that would permit 185.

Ken Ryan, representing the landowner, said the general plan should be followed.

"When the general plan was adopted, a lot of focus, direction, analysis and clarity was provided to land use issues," Ryan said. "We need to use [the general plan] as a guideline."

Residents opposing Headlands development disagree.

"The problem is the landowner insists the city must do it his way or no way, and his way would be disastrous for the community," said Ed Gallagher of the Committee to Save the Headlands. "The community's interests must be protected with regard to precious natural resources, land forms, taxpayer costs, public liability, health and safety. But the landowner will probably insist on going down with his ship."

In 1994, city voters soundly rejected plans to build a 400-room hotel, shopping center and up to 370 homes on the Headlands. An appellate court upheld the referendum, but said the city had to allow some development or be prepared to compensate the landowners.

Planning began anew in August with a series of 10 public hearings, leading to Monday's session. The City Council will have the final vote on which plan will be selected.

"We're simply trying to get a start and get some kind of consensus," said Planning Commission Chairman Bob Nichols.

On April 28, the commission, which will make a recommendation on what it wants in the plan, is expected to "turn the ball over" to the council, Nichols said.

The 6:30 p.m. Planning Commission meeting Monday will take place at City Hall, 33282 Street of the Golden Lantern. Information: (714) 248-9890.


Development Options

On Monday, Dana Point's Planning Commission will consider a scenario for developing the city's Headlands area. Alternatives have been proposed by three parties with a stake in the project: the property owners, the city and a coalition of citizen and environmental groups that has long opposed development. Here's how the three would divide the parcel's 121.3 acres:



First Second alternative alternative Residential* 52.8 47.7 Open space 50.7 51.6 Conservation 15.1 15.1 Recreation/commercial 2.7 6.9


* 261-294 homes



First Second alternative alternative Openspace 70.1 72.8 Residential* 35.8 37.1 Recreation/commercial 8.9 7.0 Right of way/parking 6.5 4.4


* 185 homes


Conservation/open space*: 84.6

Residential: 21.0

Possible development: 15.7

* Includes trails, parks

Source: City of Dana Point; Researched by FRANK MESSINA/For The Times

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