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Resident Shelly Welcome says the City Council is diminishing public access to trails by preventing students, hikers, bicyclists other residents from parking their cars on Camino Lacouague. Photo by Allison Jarrell
Resident Shelly Welcome says the City Council is diminishing public access to trails by preventing students, hikers, bicyclists other residents from parking their cars on Camino Lacouague. Photo by Allison Jarrell

Shelly Welcome, San Juan Capistrano

The current San Juan Capistrano City Council voted against the students of San Juan Capistrano when they voted to bar students and parents from parking on Camino Lacouague during school hours. Lacouague is the only place for off campus public parking near San Juan Hills High School, San Juan Capistrano’s public high school. Lacouague is a public street, and we all pay taxes for the upkeep and safety of it. The residents of the gated communities that are on either side should not have jurisdiction over this street.

No student is parking in front of any home on Lacouague. It does not impact parking for the residents of any of the gated communities. The houses are behind walls on either side of this street.

When San Juan Hills High School first opened, some residents of these gated communities attempted to keep the trail from Lacouague up to SJHHS closed and prevent the children of San Juan Capistrano from walking to school. Some sought to prevent San Juan Capistrano residents from dropping off their children on Lacouague, a public street.

But many residents of these communities worked to get permission from the school district and a former SJC City Council to open this pathway to all students. A former SJC City Council and the school district agreed on this because it benefitted the children of San Juan Capistrano.

The double parking, safety issues and others traffic issues are not caused by student parking but parents picking up their children. If parents adhered to the parking laws there would be no traffic issues. If the city is so concerned about safety then they should have enforced the former traffic laws. Instead they add new laws that cater to a few. The current City Council did this at the expense of the children of San Juan Capistrano.

The majority of students who park there are from San Juan Capistrano. They do not park there so they can skip class. Students park there so they can go to school. Students park there to save money, for grades, or for convenience.

Public streets should be kept public, especially when parking on them does not impact or prevent parking for residents of the gated communities.

This current City Council has now prevented not only students, but hikers and bicyclists and parents and all San Juan Capistrano residents from parking their cars to walk and bike the local trails. It is taking away public access to these trails. The city council catered to special interests.

We are a community, and instead of making it harder for the children of San Juan Capistrano, we should all be working together to make it better. It takes a village. Keep public spaces open for all, not just the few.

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About The Author Capo Dispatch

comments (7)

  • Well said, Shelly. I’m afraid though that the current Council could care less. Just one more reason why should not have been elected.

    • Joanna Clark,

      I wrote two e-mails to each of the current SJC City Council members. Sam Allevato was the only member who responded. I know that the other members promised to support ALL SJC citizens and not listen to special interests but currently this does not seem to be the case. This issue affects many San Juan Capistrano children who attend San Juan Capistrano’s local public high school. The adverse affects of traffic occur for about 10 to 15 minutes out of this neighborhoods day. Many of the local families support access and parking on Lacouague. This current city council was just elected and they could not have possibly surveyed the neighborhood or the impact it has on local students and families. Do any of these council members live near Lacouague? Do their supporters? After promising so much these new council members did not stand up for what they promised. Very disappointed.

  • People have short memories. Measure C was passed by the citizens/taxpayer’s of SJC. The school should never have been built in that location, next to a landfill with poor street access. A corrupt city council and developer at the time, decided it didn’t matter what the citizens of SJC voted for, they decided to build under the guise of eminent domain. We were then told NO high school parking would ever be permitted on Lacouague. Another obvious lie. It was becoming a danger zone during the afternoon, students walking in the middle of the street, and cars parked in the street blocking access to homes in the area. It should be the school’s responsibility to provide adequate parking ON CAMPUS. Something that should have been planned for, but like most government agencies, the school district did not plan for adequate parking.

    • Carol Flora,

      Measure C was a long, long time ago. When it was on the ballot many years ago I voted against the high school because it was going to be built near a dump and near power lines. But the school was built. SJHHS is here and it is open. And it is a great school. And it has a wonderful, diverse student body. The kids from San Juan Capistrano attend this school. The San Juan Capistrano children who attend SJHHS had nothing to do with the politics of how SJHHS came to be. They are just trying to get an education and get to school. Lacouague is a public street. It is maintained by the taxes of San Juan Capistrano citizens. Many parents and students who live in the gated community advocated for allowing parking and public access to the Lacouague trail. It is not a private trail or street. Student parking on Lacouague did not cause any issues. Just like at any school in any school district traffic issues occur for about 10 to 15 minutes during the start and end of each day when students are dropped off or picked up by parents. It takes about 10 minutes in the afternoon for the “danger zone” on Lacouague, (as you call it) to be clear of students. Many people feel we are a community and it takes a village to raise children. Many people feel that supporting the local public high school is a great thing to do because it helps the local children. Currently SJHHS does have parking but students chose to park on Lacouague to save money, for convenience and for other reasons. No other local public high school has adequate parking because our taxes don’t cover it. Survey it for yourself. If you would like to donate or fundraise to help build adequate parking for high schools above our taxes I am sure the schools and students would appreciate it. The government should support the public and not bend to special interests. The government should strive to keep public spaces and streets open to the public.

  • I cannot say for sure, but this might have something to do with the City’s purchase of the Ortega/LaPata parcel and the requirement of the continued maintainence of the citrus orchard and the limitations of weekday traffic onto that property. The Lacouague property was formerly a large 200+ acre citrus ranch that in 1986 was rezoned for residential development. Just google “Lacouague” and you will find several references. Or go to:
    http://www.sanjuancapistrano.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?…21635

  • It’s an obvious cash grab if you consider who stands to benefit.
    First off as Shelly pointed out, many students park there to save money that would otherwise go to the school for parking permits. Lets assume that 30 students currently park there, that right there is $3000 a year that the school is losing out on, so obviously the school administration was on board with this idea.
    The second entity to benefit from this is the City. Camino Lacouague has been a thorn in the City’s side since San Juan Hills was completed, with residents constantly complaining about the easily avoidable traffic they have to “deal” with. I was present for a City council meeting over four years ago in which adding sidewalks and other ideas were proposed to help students park and walk down the street safely. It seems that rather than spending the money to truly fix the issue, the City has decided that adding parking regulations obviously meant to increase citation revenue is their preferred solution. Now instead of parking near the Harrison house on the Ortega highway, the two motorcycle cops have racked up quite the ticket count at Camino Lacouague. If you don’t believe that the City would do this for citation revenue, just remember that they took out the red light cameras at the former Ortega/Del Obispo intersection because they weren’t making enough money.

    • Alberto,
      I spoke to Mr. Ressler and he did not know about it until it was changed. He was told by a city official that there was parking on San Juan Creek which there is not. I don’t think the SJHHS administration had anything to do with this.

      The traffic issues occur for about 10 to 15 minutes a day, and I think that this was just too much to bare for some of the residents. They do not see how it benefits the children of San Juan Capistrano and they only care about how the 10 to 15 minutes of traffic woes affects them. I know people who live in those neighborhoods and they are mad about the city imposing the new parking laws because these families worked to keep Lacouague open to the public.

      The city could have racked up money by enforcing the former traffic laws on Lacouague.

      I am wondering if anyone on the current city council lives out on San Juan Creek road near Lacouague or if their supporters do?

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