Shelly Welcome, San Juan Capistrano
My family is a big fan of Huell Howser. We were really saddened when he passed away. We have learned a lot about California and have visited many places in California because of Huell Howser.
I encourage people to watch his “California Gold” episode on San Juan Capistrano, or just watch the last 15 minutes about the Los Rios District. (See the online version of this letter for a link to the episode).
Currently we have two big developments proposed for downtown, and now this proposed Los Rios mini mall project. What exactly is the City Council’s view of what San Juan Capistrano should look like? Just mini malls and parking lots? One big traffic jam?
Our City Council should do everything to preserve the unique Los Rios District as a historic area. Our City Council should not change zoning so that part of the Los Rios area can be developed into a fake barn façade mini mall and parking lot. I do not begrudge the Ito’s right to sell and retire. They have worked hard for many years on their business. But building a mini mall in one of our city’s and our state’s most precious historic spaces goes against the zoning and against the preservation of the Los Rios District. Sell the property, but please sell it to a person who wishes to farm, put in a nursery, or build a park. We already have enough empty mini mall spaces in San Juan Capistrano.
I do not feel people should besmirch the Ito family’s character, nor should the Ito family besmirch anyone else’s. At the Sept. 5 city council meeting, Ms. Ito seemed to imply that some people who disagree with the selling of her property do not have good character. I do not know if that was her intention. In the meeting, Ms. Ito also pointed out that people have rented out their homes in the Los Rios District and that people have added on to their homes. Yes, people rented and added on within the rules and zoning of the Los Rios District, and not to the detriment of their neighbors.
The Los Rios District in San Juan Capistrano is beautiful and authentic. It has the oldest functioning homes in San Juan Capistrano. Los Rios is not all about business. It is a unique neighborhood community. Citizens should encourage the City Council not to change the zoning of Los Rios so that another mini mall and parking lot can be built in our city’s historic, one-of-a-kind area.
Huell Howser said that the Los Rios District and the surrounding area is part of “California’s gold.” I’d like to emphasize that once that gold is spent, it will be gone forever.