Dave Boehne feels the vibe.
That vibe is the pulse coming from neighboring Laguna Beach, where trendy restaurants, unique boutiques and high-end galleries crowd with visitors and locals.
That vibe is also the calm cool from neighboring San Clemente steeped in a surf culture with world class Trestles beach and a colony of surf industry manufacturers and surf media headquarters.
Boehne operates Infinity, a custom surfboard shop his parents started on Del Prado in Dana Point beginning in the 1980s. The shop is a destination for avid surfers, stand up paddlers and long boarders. But it doesn't get a lot of walk-in traffic. Speeds on the street make it difficult for passers-by to peruse shops and the area needs to become more pedestrian-friendly, he says.
"I'm a resident and I go to Laguna Beach or San Clemente for restaurants," Boehne said. "People expect nice restaurants and things to do here, too. Some new places are starting to come and it's beginning to change from the sleepy, old-time Dana Point where you go walk the harbor with your grandparents and go to the Chocolate Soldier."
Boehne, other merchants and locals are anxious for more change expected to come as the city gets serious and begins work on its Town Center plan. The plan was developed by the city in 2006 as way to transform Dana Point from a sleepy, beachside town into a contender for tourism dollars among neighboring Laguna Beach and San Clemente. Work to be done will be centered between Blue Lantern to the north and Golden Lantern to the south. Plans to turn two major thoroughfares — Del Prado and Pacific Coast Highway — into two-lane roadways are also in the works.