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Headlands Project Must Obey Coastal Act Rules

October 26, 2003

Re "Dana Point Residents Have Waited Long Enough for Headlands Project," letter, Oct. 19:

You failed to note that Carol O'Connell, who wrote the letter favoring the Headlands development, works for Headlands Reserve LLC, the developer of the Headlands, and is charged with marketing and communications for the company. This association puts some of the comments into context and is an important reference to make.

I do agree with many of the comments O'Connell makes regarding project facilities that will have community benefits. There are many positive aspects of the proposed Headlands development that should not be lost, and they are appreciated.

But it should not be forgotten that the essence of the plan was born out of closed-door negotiating sessions to settle litigation the developer initiated against the city. The "public input" was held after the plan was developed. The special nature of the Headlands demands that all efforts be used to create a project commensurate with the special nature of the location and one that complies with the law.

In her letter, O'Connell continues to use a tired and baseless charge that the Surfrider Foundation cuts holes in the fence to gain beach access. There is a strong degree of frustration in the community because the developer fenced off this jewel and restricted access to the beach. This frustration undoubtedly does lead to fence-cutting and "trespassing" by those who use the trails on the Headlands, but this is not at our urging.

The Surfrider Foundation does not oppose the project per se, but we do want to be sure that the project complies with the Coastal Act. As proposed, we feel (as did the Coastal Commission staff and commissioners) that the project does have two significant problems: It relies on an illegal seawall construction of a rock-pile revetment and proposes development into areas of significant environmental value, both of which are prohibited by the Coastal Act.

If these points can be resolved, the project should sail through with a larger degree of community support than currently held. We urge Headlands Reserve to work proactively with the community, concerned groups and commission staff to resolve these issues, propose a project that does not alter the native land form or rely on illegal coastal structures, and preserves as much environmental value as possible.

With these minor changes, we see a day that the entire community along with the Coastal Commission can embrace and support the project. We stand ready to help in these efforts.

Mark Cousineau

San Clemente chapter chair

Surfrider Foundation

Editor's note: In her Oct. 19 letter, Carol O'Connell did not identify her position as a community relations consultant for developer Headlands Reserve LLC. In addition, another Oct. 19 letter supporting the headlands, written under the name Carol Finizza, was written by O'Connell using her married name. The Times requires letter writers to disclose pertinent relationships to the subject of a letter and forbids writing under more than one name.

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Re "Coastal Project Ruling Delayed," Oct. 10:

I don't think the construction of homes and the 90-room inn of the Headlands development are bad for the community. I think the development will benefit the city's economy. What I am opposed to is the construction of the seawall. Like the Sierra Club and the Surfrider Foundation, I believe the wall hurts the environment and acts as a barrier to the ocean. The wall will change the way the ocean current deposits sand, and restricts access to the beach behind it. Yes, the wall will ensure privacy for the prospective homeowners, but at what cost?

I propose that the city cut back on the development of so many homes, and concentrate them farther inland. That way the sea wall doesn't have to be built.

Dana Hipolite

Laguna Niguel

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