New cities, like new homeowners, have to sort out various things before they officially put out the welcome mat. On Tuesday, the new city of Dana Point reached that stage.
Amid blue balloons and lighthearted ceremony, city officials unveiled the first "Welcome to Dana Point" sign at the city limits.
"You all know we worked super hard for incorporation," said Mayor Eileen Krause as she unveiled the first sign at the corner of Golden Lantern Street and Camino del Avion.
It was pleasant to have such a non-controversial chore, Krause and other City Council members said. Although little Dana Point has existed just six months, it already has encountered some big problems, including traffic, mobile-home rent disputes and dayworkers.
"We don't try to hide problems in our city, but try to resolve them," Krause said. "We've got a lot of energy in this city. We're a city of doers."
Councilwoman Judy Curreri said she thinks it particularly significant that the new city took up the dayworker issue. The City Council last week passed an ordinance outlawing street solicitation of jobs, a move aimed at preventing laborers from lining Doheny Park Road, seeking jobs from people who drive by. At the same time, the city announced plans to establish a bilingual phone bank that workers can call for job openings.
"The day-laborer issue is an international problem," Curreri said. "We won't solve the cause of it, but maybe we can facilitate their hiring by having a phone bank arrangement.
"I personally feel there are some south county cities that prefer to feel there isn't that problem because it isn't right there on their property," the mayor said. "And yet these dayworkers live in their area, and the work itself is in their area, not in Dana Point.
"In our city, we just didn't hide from the problem or deny it."
Councilman Mike Eggers said another issue the city has tackled is the thorny rent-increase proposal at a mobile home park in Dana Point.
"Some people thought we shouldn't get involved in the mobile-home issue at all," he said, "but we've been trying to bring both sides together on this."
Curreri said the city is also looking for a comprehensive way to tackle traffic problems: "The Traffic Commission is trying to hold some workshops in the communities to find what needs to be done overall. We've handled some individual traffic issues, but my belief is that if you try to solve traffic on one street or two streets, it will simply impact somewhere else. You've got to look at it overall."
Krause said the city is also fighting drug abuse: "We already have a drug task force, and we're going to try to have a drug-free Dana Point. I'd say that's a pretty lofty goal."
The new welcome sign unveiled Tuesday is blue, for a nautical theme, with a depiction of the square-rigger Pilgrim, berthed in the harbor. The current Pilgrim is a reproduction of the brig on which Richard Henry Dana Jr. sailed down the Pacific Coast in 1834-36 and about which he wrote his classic book "Two Years Before the Mast." Dana Point is named for him.
Don Porter, an assistant to the city manager, said seven more welcome signs will be placed at other entrances to the city by the end of this week.
Councilwoman Ingrid McGuire said some of the signs will note entrances to the communities of Monarch Beach and Capistrano Beach, which are part of Dana Point.
The signs, she said, recognize "the fact that it really is a city of three communities."
Krause said that even with the its problems, "our future is going to be exciting. When you start with a clean slate, you can do anything."