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Editor’s note: This letter was originally sent to San Juan Capistrano City Manager Ben Siegel. The Starbucks mentioned is now closed.

I am a longtime patron of the city of San Juan Capistrano. I lived in Dana Point for 14 years and on Ortega Mountain for 18 years. Previously, I worked in San Juan since the late ’80s.

All this time, I have patronized many businesses in what used to be a quaint little town with its own individual personality. Recently, my friend and I made our regular plan to have lunch in San Juan. I had surgery, so this was my first visit since late February/early March.

We tried to go to Ramos House for lunch. No parking. We ended up at Cedar Creek. To my surprise, there was a charge for parking in the adjacent lot. The free lot was full, so we parked there. Had a great lunch and service at Cedar Creek and in the process of catching up with my friend, we forgot that we hadn’t paid for parking. I had a $50 ticket on my windshield after lunch. My friend also received a ticket for $50.

I stopped to ask the parking patrol officer about the ticket. He answered my questions, and when I commented that I may have to reconsider where I go for lunch in the future, his response was, “Well, good luck in Laguna Beach! The good times are over.”

I guess his attitude reflects your city’s attitude.

I am really shocked at your total lack of awareness. This is how you help your small businesses? You forget that the people who frequent your town visit more than one place and visit often. You reward them by charging for parking? Who is going to pay for parking to stop at Starbucks across from the Mission? What about Chico’s? Shopping for an outfit is not easily done on a time restraint. Storefront shops are having enough of a hard time without their city working against them. Don’t worry about the patrons. We can go somewhere else.

Here is a list of the businesses that we visit and use the now-metered parking lot:

Trevor’s on the Tracks (Formerly The Depot)


Hennessey’s Tavern

Cedar Creek


Swallow’s Inn

Ramos House Cafe

Regency Theatre

The Tea House on Los Rio

Old Barn Antique Mall

Sundried Tomato



The parking meter officer, Mr. Edwards, Badge 29, had it right. The good times are over.

Laguna Beach, you are not.

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