SUPPORT THIS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why The Capistrano Dispatch is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.
Leading up to the San Juan Capistrano City Council election on Nov. 6, The Capistrano Dispatch is publishing six questions, two each issue, that we’ve asked each individual who qualified for the ballot to answer. Be sure to look for next edition when we publish the third and fourth questions. The list of candidates is published according to the random alphabet the California Secretary of State recently drew.
Question 1: What’s your vision for how you would like to see San Juan Capistrano developed in the future? Are there particular projects or forms of development you would like to see ushered in?
I would like to see San Juan maintain the small town, historic charm that I, like many others, moved here to enjoy. I envision a “beautification” through redevelopment of existing commercial and shopping areas, rather than approving more development which increases traffic. I also want to protect our historic properties, and the ridgelines that make San Juan unique compared to neighboring communities.
My focus is to complete the great projects we have already approved such as the boutique hotels and beautification projects downtown. Unnecessary bickering, improper referendums and expensive lawsuits have left us with heaps of rubble and half completed projects in critical areas of our town. I’ll use my experience to move these projects forward then work to improve blighted areas such as the former Endevco campus on Rancho Viejo Road.
We cannot stop progress, and development is progress. The question we need to ask of our developers is how do your projects complement our city? How do we create compromise and make things equitable for those perceived to be impacted negatively? Our city needs recreational projects and economy-bolstering projects. Our citizens should have more opportunities to spend hard-earned dollars here. We should also bring folks from surrounding communities to spend their dollars here too.
Unlike my opponents, I have a proven track record of defending individual property rights, while keeping my word of opposing massive developments: Overturned Urban Village, replaced with 60 percent less dense Kimpton Hotel; Overturned development next to Armstrong Nursery; Rejected the mall adjacent to the Mission; Rejected a high density residential development, resulting in 75 percent less density. I’m the only Council member running that defends the rights of residents in the face of deep pocket developer opposition.
San Juan Capistrano deserves great care! I envision beautiful additions to our historic city that fill needs for residents, not altering the General Plan without extensive environmental and traffic impact studies, and debate. I’ll evaluate all with this standard. Just as Hotel Banderas, Hotel Capistrano and River Street Marketplace would serve guests and visitors beautifully, expanding The Ecology Center and developing “The Farm” as an “agrihood” of farmhouses and cottages would honor our agricultural tradition.
San Juan should be similar to Carmel, with superior architecture on a small scale for charming places to gather, shop and dine that enhance our community and our lifestyle, increase sales tax revenues, and encourage patronage from other cities. Look at Anaheim Packing District and other similar projects, one of which was to be built at the Lower Rosan property. Instead, we are now getting a Ganahl Lumber, a drive-thru restaurant, and storage units.
As a Council member I would always preserve and protect the city’s historic base, while protecting individual property rights to the best extent possible. If elected, I will personally see to it that the skate park located at the San Juan Capistrano Sports Park is built!
During my term as your Council member I will adhere to the General Plan. No backroom deals for big development – every project will come through the front door with ample opportunity for public input. The end product should be a project that the community and the property owner desire. My focus will be not to change the General Plan but to encourage property owners to work within the vision already outlined for our community.
After restoring two historic homes and living 30 years in the Los Rios historic district I cherish the unique small town feel of our community. Any development in our town must honor our heritage and adhere and appreciate the qualities that our past leaders have worked so hard to maintain. Don’t be misled by the claims of my opponent. The facts will bear the truth about who really cares for our historic community.
Question 2: San Juan Capistrano’s history is important to its residents. What could you do as a city council member to protect or honor that history?
Adhere to the General Plan, Historic Downtown Center Plan and the Los Rios Specific Plan. All of these documents were drafted in order to protect San Juan’s unique history. In addition, we need to protect Native American history by coordinating with local San Juan Native Americans to monitor historic sites during construction activity.
As a former board member of the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society, I’m familiar with our town’s history and the hard work performed by volunteers to preserve and tell San Juan’s stories. I believe it’s our rich history–and the unique way our historical districts preserve it–that set us apart from our more contemporary neighboring cities. I’ll continue to work with volunteers and professionals to protect and improve these historical districts.
The importance of San Juan’s history goes beyond our residents. It’s a cherished piece of California’s history. We should all embrace and guard it. Part of that goes back to my statement that there should be compromise with projects. That includes funding preservation. For example, Nevada has legalized gambling, which can be a dangerous vice. However, gambling also abundantly funds their public schools. And no, I’m not in favor of legalized gambling in San Juan.
Our heritage is the key to safeguarding the future of San Juan Capistrano. I have worked closely with historic conservationists to protect the unique nature of California’s oldest and most beautiful communities. As a conservationist, I have successfully fought to make historic structures more accessible to residents. For eight years I fought to protect Los Rios Historic District, the Swanner House, Blas Aguilar Adobe, El Adobe de Capistrano, Garcia Adobe, Egan House, and the Mission.
Without our history, we’re just another city. It’s who we are. I’ll continue bringing people together, honoring and protecting all our historic traditions. My family arrived the year Judge Egan built his home on Camino Capistrano – 1883. I proudly inspired its restoration and life as Ellie’s Table. I brought together our Juanenos, creating a lovely place to celebrate their traditions at Putuidem Village Cultural Center. I’ll see it’s completed and continue protecting our history.
Since 2014, I have consistently voted for our General Plan to protect SJC’s historic buildings, agricultural history, and equestrian trails; and most recently spearheaded the referendum against the Vermeulen 180-home project of developer and candidate Troy Bourne, following his lawsuit against SJC taxpayers. Bourne and the Council majority don’t care about the traffic impact — an estimated additional 2,000 daily car trips in an already horribly congested area, because they’re focused on the profit.
The City’s General Plan as adopted, has the power to efficiently protect and preserve our culture and history. I will do everything in my power to keep the General Plan as is.
Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Los Rios Historic District are truly unique treasures. The Los Rios Historic District is the oldest residential district in California. We must prevent incompatible uses and development from driving out residences. Commercial development that violates the Los Rios Specific Plan and the General Plan should not be allowed. We should focus commercial development in the downtown to reduce the potential for more gridlock on Del Obispo.
I protected and restored the 1911 Yorba Love House from being destroyed by the city for a parking lot in 1995. I moved the home to Los Rios and spent years restoring it by hand. I value and support the Mission San Juan Capistrano as it is the highlight of our historic town. I would like to see the downtown with more pedestrian friendly streets, planted medians, in a style that heralds San Juan’s historic roots.