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CAROL CHESTEK, San Juan Capistrano

I have been a resident of San Juan Capistrano since 1980. Yes, that is a very long time, and, yes, I have seen many changes. Some I enjoy and some I don’t like, but I realize you can’t please everyone all the time.

I was motivated to write this letter because of the comments made by a candidate for City Council for District 3. I am not in District 3, but if elected, he will serve as a councilmember making decisions for the entire city, so his opinions are important to me.

Specifically, I take issue with his comments regarding “keeping small-town vibes,” “ensuring responsible development,” and “keep(ing) Los Rios Street, Los Rios Street.”

The Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano is a beautiful hotel that any city should be proud of, but in my opinion, it doesn’t exude “small-time vibes.”

As to “ensuring responsible development,” I would like to point out that currently the Planning (Commission) has 17 major developments in various stages of approval. One is a four-story parking structure and a two-story building where the Playhouse now sits. I can’t think of anything that would take away more from the charm of Mission San Juan Capistrano, Cedar Creek Inn and the Inn at the Mission hotel than a four-story parking structure.

Additionally, I think it is going to be very difficult to “keep Los Rios Street, Los Rios Street” with the construction of the River Street Marketplace.

This town is being developed into a major tourist destination. Be it the right decision or not, let’s be honest and accept the fact that the ship has sailed for keeping San Juan Capistrano a small town.

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comments (1)

  • Carol:
    If you go back thru CD archives you’ll see that in both LTE and comments the past year, I’ve tried to warn residents of the imminent dangers of turning your town into Laguna Beach, where I’ve observed first hand what happens when it’s “Business First, Residents Last” at City Hall.
    I’ve lived in Laguna for 50 years, am a local native turning 76.
    I have friends and do business myself (I’m a land use advisor and CEQA analyst) in SJC, and I’m alarmed these past 5 years at how closely you’re miming the negative aspects emerging in Laguna.
    Your quality of life has been eroded and is accelerating, soon you’ll be hostages to commerce as we are.
    We do have a PAC (LAGUNA RESIDENTS FIRST) that’s managed to get a controlled growth initiative on the ballot this fall, but developers and the real estate industry are spending 10 times as much on false ads (basically propaganda), edgy and mean LTE deluges, plus guest columns in our 2 media outlets to defeat it.
    And it’s gotten VERY ugly, our city (once a quaint town with character and charm like yours) is now divided and the rhetoric heated. I doubt that the rifts now being exploited by the pro-development forces will every heal.
    I now call my home “Humpty-Dumpty Land,” so I encourage brave souls like you to speak up NOW.
    The longer you wait, the less likely that you’ll be able to affect projects that diminish that small town experience.
    Bad things happen when the people affected remain silent—-developers are “banking” on that, as is your City Council, who can only be held accountable at election time.

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