A Chronological Narrative of South Shores Church Redevelopment Project

State Chearing House - the lead agency - City of Dana Point - should renew Notice of Perparations of DEIR


   South Shores Church (SSC) property redevelopers propose a 10 Year phased expansion project with limited funds, doubling the size and capacity to 89,362 sq ft.  Included in the expansion proposal is a 2-story parking structure and four additional 2-story buildings, one of which is a 24,000 sq ft. Entertainment Center/ Basketball Court/ Gymnasium (within 100 ft. of the nearest bedroom).   This 6-acre parcel sits on a bluff top with a history of unstable earth movement north, east, and south,  and is adjacent to a protected Wildlife Enhancement Project. Salt Creek is a federally listed 303(d) Impaired waterbody already degraded and filled with contaminants.

   The City of Dana Point (CDP)  maintains a protected Crown Valley Parkway “Scenic Corridor” as noted in our Local Coastal Plan (LCP) ). One of the proposed 2-story buildings will block a great deal of that protected public view.


     The Coastal Development Permit (CDP) must comply with the LCP. It was generatated to expedite approval of this project as proposed until the VoMB of many residents spoke out in justified opposition.  The most significant valid concerns expressed are:

---  Over-building of the site;  inconsideration of adjacent wildlife

---  Excessive and intrusive noise ( both during construction and future activities)

---  Dust, pollutants, surface runoff into Salt Creek, and increased traffic ( during construction and future)

---  Declining property values, and impaired views

---  Property endangerment ( from an unstable bluff top! ) due to proximity. View Photo



 All of these Potentially Significant Negative Impacts were glossed over by the property development proponents and the CDP itself,  beginning with the creation and acceptance of a flawed, biased and ill-conceived document; the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND).   An MND document is used when it is determined that there are no potentially significant impacts that cannot be appreciably mitigated by the applicant.  The CDP uses this document to allow them to “rubber stamp” (approve) the project and move it forward.

On July 19, 2009,  it was discovered that the consultant who prepared the MND,  Cheryl Hodge,  who is also responsible for hiring all the professional consultants to the document,  is a SSC member and on its building committee.  Obviously a conflict of interest and certainly in violation of CEQA ( California Environmental Quality Act ).


  The surrounding homeowners suffer the “de minimis” Notification process;

A)  Notification:   Nearby residents were not made aware of the  Intent To Adopt A Mitigated Negative Declaration   which allowed for a public review period from April 27th through May 27th.

B)  MND Document Mail Outs:   Concerned homeowners did not receive the MND to read and evaluate. The City mailed a few copies of the MND (missing over 100 pages of pertinent information;  appendix B,C,D,E and F )  to a select HOA member in each of the surrounding communities, ignoring the general residency of Monarch Beach.

C)  June 15, 2009 Planning Commission Public Hearing:   Homeowners within 500 ft. of SSC received notification of the 6/15/09 Hearing.    For most, it was the first notification of the proposed project.  Due to the size of the crowd in attendance, the Hearing was delayed one month.  

D)  July 20, 2009. 2nd Public Hearing:  Due to a month long influx of public outrage, via letters, calls and e-mails to the City (logged from 6/15/09 to 7/20/09 ),  the City Planning Commission announced at the start of the meeting that this Hearing would be held for “fact finding” only, and be automatically continued to August 17th, 2009. Concerned residents spoke from 6pm to 11:45pm and requested an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

E) July 27, 2009, D.P. City Council Meeting - VoMB members speak at the City Council meeting . See videos link at left on home page.

F)  July 31, 2009.:  City Attorney admits that the City ( the Lead Agency who hires unbiased consultants for development projects ), does not have a contract with Cheryl Hodge, & Assoc. and further states that SSC hired her (major conflict of interest).

 Concerned Monarch Beach residents joined together to create  VOMB“.   The unified goal is to scale down the SSC project and expose it to a complete environmental impact assessment per CEQA with unbiased environmental specialists, including full transparency that allows for neighboring input and true mitigations for all concerns.

G)   August 7, 2009:   SSC announces, through a hired PR firm (Government Solutions, Inc,  www.govsol.com )  that they have agreed to go through the process of an EIR and contend they will be open to public comment.   August 17th Hearing is officially canceled. Government Solutions Press Release

H) August 17,2009: VoMB announces via a Press Release its acknowledgement of SSC’s willingness to do an EIR and further states VoMB is looking forward to participation in the process as invited by SSC.

I) Week of August 17, 2009: VoMB requests a meeting with SSC and its newly hired PR firm representative. A meeting date is set to include their legal counsel. As the meeting date approaches, it is canceled by SSC.

J) August and September 2009: VoMB repeatedly attempts discussion meetings with SSC. Phone calls are not returned.

K) August 21, 2009: Requests for Proposals (RFP) for the SSC EIR are sent out by the CDP (authored by Erica Demkowitz, City senior planner) to 6 potential environmental consultants, with a response due date of 9/15/09. Erica directs the new applicants to access and review the flawed and rejected MND for their own evaluation. The City also contends, in the RFP, that, “Both the existing and the proposed usage of the site is consistent with the land use designation and existed zoning.”, which VoMB believes it has shown to be untrue. The fact that the City is considering the reuse or recycling of the defunct, fatally flawed MND in any way is troubling to VoMB.

L) September 15,2009: All 6 potential EIR consultants respond to the City with written
proposals. SSC requests to review the 6 proposals and further requests that the City
delay its selection of the consultants until the 10/12/09 DP City Council (DPCC) meeting
instead of 9/28/09 as originally scheduled. The City complies with SSC’s request.
---- VoMB requests the same courtesy of 6 proposal reviews but is denied the same
privilege. The City states that there are “no copies” and that the proposals will not be
available to VoMB until 10/9/09 (3 days prior to the DPCC meeting).

M) September 24, 2009: VoMB sends a strongly worded request to the City, via a paid
consultant, for the same review privilege as SSC. It is agreed by the City that a copy
of the proposals would be made available the following day (9/25/09).

N) September 25, 2009: A review of the 6 proposals for the EIR reveals that the
applicants are using the MND and are unaware that it was written by a SSC member.
It appears to VoMB that none of the 6 consultants, under their current directives
could produce a fair, honest and transparent EIR with all the necessary neighboring

O) September 21, 2009: VoMB e-mails a formal request to the City for participation in
an Interested Party Notification List (IPNL). 8 Monarch Beach residents’ names and
addresses are provided and written confirmation is requested. Multiple requests were
sent to the City and no response was given to the IPNL question.

P) October 1, 2009: 2 members of VoMB request, and are granted, a meeting with two
City Council members (Lara Anderson and Joel Bishop) to discuss an IPNL and the
apparent problems with the RFP proposals.

Q) October 6, 2009: VoMB asks Erica Demkowicz for a 2 week postponement of the
RFP consultant decision to allow VoMB equal time to further evaluate the 6
proposals. ----- Erica responds, via telephone, that this is a request for a
continuance. Erica states that it is necessary for VoMB to put that request in
writing and that it is Kyle Butterwick (Director of the Community Development) who
has to approve it.

R) October 7, 2009: VoMB provides a written request to Kyle as directed by Erica.
----- Kyle responds via e-mail: “The applicant [SSC] wishes to proceed to 10/12/09.
I do not have the authorization to continue the agenda. Your request must be
directed to the City Council”….. on Monday (10/12/09) DPCC meeting.

S) October 9, 2009: 2 VoMB members meet with Lara Anderson and Joel Bishop to
discuss the City’s lack of an IPNL, the problems with the RFP directive given by the
senior planner, and VoMB’s displeasure with the Planning Commission’s decision to
recommend Michael Brandeman & Assoc. (MBA) as the EIR consultant.

T) October 12, 2009: DPCC meeting. It is announced at the beginning of the meeting
that the City Council decision for the Request For Perposals (RFP) EIR consultant would be delayed for further review until the next DPCC meeting of 10/26/09. Four VoMB members speak during the Public Comments section:

1) VoMB requested a new RFP and expressed concerns regarding the City’s directive
given to the applicants and that the flawed MND not be utilized in any way.

2) VoMB discussed the inherent bias in MBA as the EIR consultant, indicating a
member of the Church and influential member of the community was too closely affiliated
with MBA.

3) VoMB gave the City a list of “directives” they felt were impartial and appropriate
for the chosen EIR consultant. (no “directives” were changed by the city).

4) VoMB made the DPCC aware of their repeated attempts to meet with SSC, their
PR firm and attorney to discuss acceptable alternatives to their redevelopment
plans. In a formal letter from Pastor Tyler Guy, he had expressed an anxious
desire to meet and openly discuss the proposed project. The SSC has refused
to meet with VoMB.

U) October 13, 2009: A Planning Commission calls a key member of VoMB
and requests a meeting to discuss the 6 RFP EIR consultant applicants.

V) October 16, 2009: The Commissioner meets with the City Manager and the City Attorney,
then meets privately with VoMB members.

W) October 22, 2009: VoMB receives notification, via the IPNL e-mail list, that the
EIR consultant to be considered at 10/26/09 DPCC meeting will be LSA & Assoc.
rather than MBA.

X) October 26, 2009: DPCC meeting. One VoMB member speaks about the EIR
consultant selection; an agenda item up for a council vote. Reservations are
expressed regarding the RFP, appreciation is given for a reconsidered consultant
and a reiteration of the lack of communication afforded by SSC is restated.
~ The City Council votes unanimously in favor of LSA.

Y) November 23, 2009: Members of SSC (Attorney Mark McGuire, Esq. and GG Kohlhagen)
meet with VoMB’s paid consultant and two VoMB member to discuss residents’
concerns …… SSC representatives offered NO alternatives and gave NO merit
to all the previously stated community concerns.

Z) December 4, 2009: The Dana Pont Times prints a letter of disappointment regarding
the Nov. 23,2009 “meeting”, written by VoMB consultant. ( see page 14 of article link - 6.66MB).

Aa) Dec. 14, 2009:. Dana Point City Council meeting; VoMB’s consultant speaks
during Public Comments.

  If you live in Monarch Beach, please seriously consider getting involved.

This project , as proposed, will affect your property!   As hard working and good intentioned neighbors, we need your participation!  Please utilize the contacts below.


  Any meaningful effort requires funds…….Donations of  $100+  to cover our current and anticipated costs are requested and are used to protect all of our cherished community.

Current Funding Needs

     1).  Establishing a web site: 

     2).  Hiring highly knowledgeable and experienced Environmental Consultants

     3).  Appealing Fees required by the City of Dana Point  

     4).  Legal Fees




* contact/donation info.