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Jerry Nieblas, San Juan Capistrano
First, I want to make it perfectly clear—I am not pro-progress. For 65 years, I haven’t wanted things to change in San Juan Capistrano, but it’s changing anyway and not all of it is positive.
I’d love to see the land on Los Rios Street stay with the Ito’s—they’ve been good stewards and caretakers since the late 1950s. The fact of the matter is, they have every right to benefit from the sale of their property. And they have the right to sell to whomever they choose, but they didn’t. They were very selective. Part of the sale process included sitting down with developer Dan Almquist and discussing future use of their land. Along with the Ito’s and Dan Almquist, myself and others with historical ties to San Juan Capistrano were included in those meetings. Dan listened to everyone—the positives and the criticisms. Several times, Dan and his team went back to their office, made revisions, and incorporated our ideas and suggestions. Remember, there are bits and pieces to Dan’s proposed plan that still need to be polished. He’s aware of that, and communication is ongoing.
Whether this community likes it or not, that land will be developed. With Dan’s plan, that land will not be a mass of housing/apartments. It will not be an enormous cluster of medical offices/buildings, and it’s not another strip mall. His plan is an open-air marketplace, much like what could be found in an Early Californio plaza.
Regarding Mark Nielsen’s recent column—now he’s concerned all of a sudden? A little late, Mark. If memory serves me right, Mark was one of the Council members who sold San Juan’s “heart and soul” in the past and at times was in favor of pro-growth. That makes him just as guilty in contributing to over-development in this town.
I’m a proud volunteer at the Apolonia Montano Adobe (Montanez Adobe) and I see the amount of foot traffic on Los Rios Street. There isn’t enough to direct them to the southern end of the street. This marketplace will be a perfect invite for people to enjoy the whole street with an authentic San Juan Capistrano welcome. Los Rios Street is rich with traditions of gatherings, families and feasts, and reminds me of the phrase, “Mi casa es su casa,” (my home is your home).
For those who question my authority in speaking on this issue, know this…my ties to this land run deep and go back over 200 years. My two-times great grandfather, Jose Dolores Garcia, built and resided in the Garcia/Pryor home (the historical society). This home was a gift to his wife, my two-times great grandmother, Maria Refugia Yorba. Several of the historical board and batten homes were built by their sons. Most significant is my bloodline to the Rios family, through my three-times great grandmother, Maria Juana Rios, wife of my three-times great grandfather, Domingo Yorba.
Again, I don’t like progress. However, if progress has to happen on the Ito property, let it be Dan Almquist’s vision of an open-air marketplace. I stand in total support of his project moving forward. I am confident this community will only benefit from this proposed development coming to Los Rios Street.