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Larry Kramer, San Juan Capistrano

Jan. 5 was a sad day for our fair city. That was the day the City Council majority threw all rational thought out the window. For what purpose, only they know. They re-voted on the engineering and design contract to remove the 0.9-mile choke point on Ortega Highway and voted against the contract.

The council majority claim they are for safety, but it is an unsafe highway now and will get worse. They campaigned against traffic congestion. It is congested now (level D/E) and getting worse (level F).

The road performs at unsatisfactory levels during peak hours, but that is fine with them. Two of them live on the other side of town and likely do not use it. The third, who was not elected to the council but appointed, does not like sound walls and retaining walls. They want to keep a four-lane state highway “rural.”

I feel sad for the contractor who thought they had a contract and began work. But in San Juan Capistrano, a contract is not final. They can and have later changed their minds. Is that business friendly? Will they pay the contractor for the work already done (using your tax dollars)?

I feel sad for the many good, honest, hardworking people who devoted thousands of hours negotiating, planning and designing this small section of highway over the past 10 years that is now for nothing.

I feel sad for the people who were in the accident on Ortega Highway on Jan. 8. They were trying to make a left hand turn onto La Novia, but another car got in a hurry going east and decided to occupy the same piece of road. As the traffic increases, the number of accidents will likely increase.

I feel sad for the students and parents going to and from San Juan Hills High School and wasting their time in traffic.

I feel sad for the people working in San Juan Capistrano who live off Ortega Highway.

I feel sad for the people who live in Sendero who will decide not to travel to our city to a restaurant or play or movie because of the delays. I also feel sad for the businesses that will experience reduced patronage.

For all those people, as you are stuck in traffic, remember that, as Councilman John Perry said, the choke point is a calming device. So just stay calm as your engine idles.

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comments (32)

  • Larry Kramer is the same guy whose wisdom (insert sarcasm) voted to put a traffic signal at the Del Obispo railroad crossing. That is the kind of silly thinking you get from Larry Kramer and Sam Allevato who also voted for that signal. A report by CTC, Inc. for Metrolink showed that traffic signal was activated as many as 287 times a day. Neither the FRA or the PUC required that traffic signal for the Quiet Zone. Can you imagine if that traffic signal was not there how much traffic would improve ?

    Please Larry Kramer and Sam Allevato, your ideas of traffic improvement have only made things worse and we may for it everyday with the time lost out of our lives at the Del Obispo crossing. You both have a horrible record of traffic improvement and the residents pay for it in lost time everyday.

  • With all undue respect for Larry Kramer.
    Why is it that past City Council is right and present City Council is wrong? Why is it that the triad-newspapers for SJC, DP and SC are pro developer and to heck with the environment, to heck with the power of the vote and finally, why the heck does this bias entity get to appear in the SJC papers to begin with? What a horrible yet obvious signal to residents all, that developers and their puppets can be published, yet common sense and reasoning goes for not? Jonathan V; at least you weren’t so – “ … to heck with public accountability.”
    Dave Bartholomew was there, although a DP resident, the consequences of unaccountable spending for unpredictable drivers lacks integrity and forethought.

  • What is with all those signs on the Ortega Highway,telling all the out of town mostly drivers, on this road,of this towns problems.I think it is ashame, to see those signs.The ortega choke point compliments of our Mayor Patterson and council persons.I respected our last council,and i respect this council.I swear this town is so divided in its leadership.Every week all you guys in your one sided coffee chats,only to stir up the people of this town.Old ideas,and old people.

    • I agree with you Dusty. It is unfortunate that Capistrano Forward is unable to follow the simple laws in our town regarding the placement of signs. Once you have a political entity like Capistrano Forward placing illegal signs, then the rest all fall in placing signs all over creating a blight. It is a poor example that Capistrano Forward set.

  • In the past couple of years I have not agreed with Sam Allevato on much but he is right on this one. This is so stupid not to complete the widening of Oretga Highway. This is “choke point” is a crowded and unsafe section of roadway. Let’s see how the council majority votes if one of the student drivers at San Juan Hills dies in a traffic accident on this section.

  • I have lived/worked in this city since 2000 and the City of San Juan Capistrano can never seem to do anything right. It causes lawsuits to be filed against it, cannot take care of even the small amount of greenbelts in the City and now this. I actually look forward to the day when I no longer live/work here.

  • This letter is an excellent example of why the residents voted to not re-elect Larry Kramer.

  • I am a San Juan Capistrano resident and my children all attended or attend San Juan Hills High School. I drive out the Ortega almost every day. This choke point is a serious problem. For the City Council not to recognize the safety issues and the traffic issues is mind boggling. I know that the there is a schism between the “common sense” people and the “old boys network” or whatever you people call each other. The rest of us are in the middle of this mess. Decisions seem to be based only on getting back at each other at the expense of the citizens of San Juan Capistrano and our children. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes to get from downtown SJC to the high school because of the choke point. The widening was planned out and paid for. This affects our children, the people who live on the Ortega, the businesses of San Juan Capistrano, etc. Who is going to drive into our town from the East if they have to deal with that mess? And since SJC knows it is a safety hazard because of the flooding, traffic, condition, and accident rate that is on record at that corner and SJC knowingly decided not to fix it will we all now be responsible financially for accidents that occur on that stretch of the Ortega in the future.

    • Shelly, the widening Has not been paid for. It still lacked millions to complete the funding (you can check the agenda item). The flooding has been there for years. If the flooding was such a huge issue, Sam Allevato has had twelve years to get a flooding issue resolved and still has not done it.

      Widening the Ortega to allow more vehicles onto roads and intersections that are already graded an “F” does not resolve the problem, it only compounds the problem. Can you imagine even more vehicles on our roads ?

      • Clint Worthington,

        The improvement was mostly paid for! Look it up. It is in our city limits so we will need to pay for some of it. What are you saying? Because Sam Allevato didn’t resolve the flooding, it should not be resolved? The current city council had a solution to the flooding and it voted no!!! So it is on them now! Can you stop with the us against them. I understand. You don’t like Sam Allevato. I get that you think every issue that San Juan Capistrano has been caused by him. But that does not help the issue here. Can you move beyond your dislike for Sam Allevato?

        One of reasons that the intersections are “F”s is because of the choke point. It backs up the traffic to and from the freeway. This causes havoc on the intersections! It is a choke point. Do you know what that means? Drive it at certain times of the day and see for yourself.

      • And Clint, there are already more vehicles on the road! Widening the Ortega will not change this! Do you not understand that there is a public high school out there? And do you not want people from the east coming into San Juan Capistrano to spend money in the businesses of San Juan Capistrano?

  • Shelly, the City Council had an option to increase the traffic on Ortega, into our town, and onto our streets and chose not to do so. How can you approve something that there is no funding to complete the project ?

    As for Sam Allevato, in my opinion, the public needs to be aware of the horrible decisions this City Council member makes. He barely survived a recall and barely was re-elected. His cohorts, John Taylor and Larry Kramer were thrown out of office by just about a 2-1 vote.

    As for the intersections and roads already being an “F”, the increased traffic flow will only make the problem worse, not make it better. Adding more cars to our streets does not make traffic better. I am sorry that you believe that.

  • Clint Worthington,
    Adding more cars to our streets? What? The cars are already there backed up because of the choke point. So you believe people avoiding San Juan Capistrano is a good thing? Tell this to the business owners of San Juan Capistrano. The traffic is there. San Juan Capistrano is affected by this point and the choke point adversely affects us. Our public high is out there. This choke point is a safety hazard. A known one. So will San Juan Capistrano be responsible financially for accidents that occur on this corner because San Juan Capistrano is choosing to not fix the safety hazard?

    • Shelly, sorry it appears that you had missed the part of the presentation that there would be more cars in two lanes (or three) traveling at 50 mph that one lane of cars traveling at 40 mph.

      • There is not traveling 40 miles an hour in the morning or afternoon on that corner. It is usually about 5 to 10 mph. Go out there and drive it and see. Or just get all your information from presentations that are not based on the real world.

    • This is a state highway and not a city street. There is a difference in who is financially responsible,

      • Clint Worthington,
        The City of San Juan Capistrano made the decision not to fix an unsafe street. We are responsible.

  • Clint,
    I sense that you are out of touch or lack real world knowledge on this one. You stated, “the City Council had an option to increase the traffic on Ortega, into our town, and onto our streets and chose not to do so. ” The traffic is already there. Widening the Ortega would not increase it. But when La Pata goes through people are going to seek an alternative and choose not to go into SJC because of the traffic. They will choose to go to Ladera Ranch or to the Albertsons, Ralphs, Target, Restaurants in San Clemente because of the traffic and the “F” intersections caused by the bottle neck. I know this because I do this myself in the afternoon. I have two sons who currently attend SJHHS and get out of sports and activities at two different times. If we go get a snack to kill time we never go back into SJC even though it is closer because of the horrendous traffic caused by the bottleneck. And many times there have been accidents on that corner. There is no going around it because there is no room. All traffic stops. I know this does not affect you so you think it is a good thing but it affects hundreds of San Juan Capistrano parents and their children everyday. It is a scary corner. It is dangerous! And it is a traffic nightmare! Oh and by the way the speed limit is 40 and then 45 on that stretch of the Ortega and most people who drive it regularly go the speed limit because there is almost always a CHP officer patrolling the Ortega.

    • Please,lets get real here,actually the choke point will slow everyone down.No one can pass,and there you go.With the road widened to more lanes ,cars will race to get to the freeway faster.I see this as saving our History,all you new folks are forced to Obey.

      • Even if the widening was going to happen.If you have kids in the San Juan Capistrano high school,the construction wouldn’t of started until something like 2019.Have you thought about the traffic during construction?What about the home owners that have lived there for years?,does that matter?or are u only worried about your drive on that state highway 74.

      • Dusty,
        You cannot race to the freeway. The speed limit is 45 and then switches to 40. And there is a regular CHP officer there all the time. Drive out there and see for yourself. The speed limit cannot change because the area is residential. Saving our History from what???? Ortega was already widened except for that corner which floods every time it rains. There is no shoulder. This is a safety hazard for our children. It may not affect your children but it affects mine and hundreds of SJC children daily. And thousands of SJC children who will attend SJHHS. Now, after this decision, SJC has set itself up for being responsible for the accidents that occur on this corner because it ignored a known safety hazard.

      • I go over the ortega 3 times a week,I know all about that road,plus i come from one of the oldest pioneering family,s of this town.I could be real negative on this one,saying that all you new folks moving here have ruined this small town ,farming community.I wont do that its progress to build,but wow how much concrete do you need,and what are all you afraid of?.

      • Dusty,
        My family is not a pioneer family but we bought a house here in SJC about 19 years ago. I love here and pay taxes. I don’t want more growth. I just want safe streets. I grew up in a small town on a farm in Washington State. I am for safety not for concrete. I am a realist. I did not choose to build a high school or a dump out the Ortega but the reality is that is where they were built. The reality is that the choke point or corner on that stretch of the Ortega is unsafe. When it rains it floods. It is extremely narrow. Trash trucks and brand new sixteen year old drivers on an unsafe highway are not a great combination. It is not our children’s fault that people chose to sell their land to developers. It is not our children’s fault that developers have suburbanized the beautiful land out the Ortega or that people have traded in their pastures and orchards for dollars. It is not our children’s fault that SJC has chosen not to fix an unsafe road. But they are affected adversely by both. There is so much divisiveness in this town and sound decisions should not be based getting back at one side or the other. Our children are in the middle of this mess.

      • Sorry for the grammatical errors.

  • Ok no problem,how about open san juan creek road.That would be great for all the school children.that would be great to go all the way to la-pata.I don’t care I live across from Ambuel school and san juan creek road.Its a dead end street.that’s it I don’t want to talk no more..I already have long time friends that will think I am against them on this road project..but I am on no ones side from the council,I am on my side …

    • So you feel opening up San Juan Creek Road is less concrete than widening Ortega? Regardless if you open San Juan Creek or not the narrow turn on Ortega where it narrows down and where it floods is extremely dangerous and needs to be widened and fixed!

      • Its not about concrete only,its about the Red Ranch house on the north side of your choke point.Why not ask them,and those property owners.Long time family’s live on that side of the road.Slow down and smell the flowers,relax and see the green grass on those hill sides.If the ortega was widen,than you will still complain about some little weed that isn’t sprayed with your chemical.The landscape maintenance company’s are all into san juan capistrano.The tree’s are trimmed as soon as the New leaves start to bloom.The Swallows don’t even nest here anymore,and you have killed all the small wild animals. Summer comes and all the tree’s get trimmed how stupid,and not healthy.

      • Shelly, is it too late to reply? Does anyone care about the families whose homes abut this section of Ortega Hwy? Do you want a 20′ soundwall blocking your view, making you feel a prisoner on your property? The trucks shake the ground – would you want to double that?
        No, the HS should not have been put out there. But perhaps it’s safer for SJ residents to go north and take Antonio Pkwy to get to the school. I do not want it widened. Will ruin my peace.

  • Dusty,
    You brought up concrete earlier so if it was not about concrete why did you bring it up? The red ranch house is where the street is already widened and there is room for more lanes. I am speaking of the corner where the flooding occurs and the road is extremely narrow and unsafe. You are against widening the road. I get it. I am for widening the road because I view it as a safety issue for children and families. We disagree and that is okay. By the way, I don’t spray chemicals. We grow strawberries instead of grass in our front yard and fruit trees in our back yard. Our oranges are almost ripe and organic. I do not work for developers or stand on any side of the city council. I live in SJC and my children attend SJHHS which is out the Ortega and our city’s public high school. I voted against this high school being built out there but it was built out there anyway. It is a good school but the drive sometimes is treacherous. The swallows nest under the freeways and under the bridges and at Lowes and townhouses. I know this because I see their nests when I run down to the beach. My father-in-law has nests on his townhouse that is in Dana Point next to the creek. The swallows are still here. They have just found other places to build their nests besides the Mission. Maybe the traffic and the divisiveness in the town has chased them away. Our neighborhood has many bunnies and there is an old raccoon that lives in one of our juniper trees. Skunks also visit our house once in a while.

  • The new Ortega exit and wider road now has cars exiting too fast. One minute they are on a freeway and suddenly your are on a city street. Slam on your breaks to make a right into Taco Bell. and hope you do not get rear ended. . The road does not give drivers time to adjust from 60 to 30 mph.. As a resident I avoid the overpass if I can. And as more cars come speeding onto the Del Obispo curve into town drivers wait through maybe two light changes to get out of Marshall’s Plaza. Our traffic has been a mess, it is not better, but worse. What really bothers me is all of those EIR’s that have been prepared and accepted to substantiate no traffic impact for the last few developers trying to build on Del Obispo. Those documents were manipulated to show no traffic impact based on car count. I brought this up at the city council several times. Well we have a problem with traffic. Local businesses want more traffic into their shops. and restaurants. The answer is not more traffic or wider road. We need a second road in and out of town.. The obvious but probably not popular idea is to open up the underpass near the Mission traveling under the freeway and into the Marbella shopping plaza area.. It would be like a back door to avoid the Ortega, Del Obispo choke point. Moving part of the traffic would help. Just a thought.. The new off ramp was poorly planned. We need to divert some traffic.

  • Rose – If you’re making a right into Taco Bell, you’re on Del Obispo headed TOWARD the freeway. What does that have to do with has cars exiting too fast?

    The problem isn’t the interchange but the inadequate intersection of Camino Capistrano and Del Obispo. (PS, if you’re waiting too long to get out of the Marshals parking lot, go over by Ricardos and use the signal to turn on to Camino Capistrano. If you’re headed south, go down the alley to Avenida Padre and use the signal there.)

    I like the new interchange.

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