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JACK EIDT, San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano is rapidly losing much of the wild lands and coyote-roaming open space that make it a peacefully green exception to the rest of OC. Rancho Mission Viejo’s house-and-road sprawl is consuming our eastern hillsides after the hundreds of thousands of new residents populated the chaparral grasslands and oak meadows to the north, south, and west. We voted to keep the Northwest Open Space wild, and all 65.5 acres should remain that way.

I have collaborated as an urban planner with the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation on a plan for a Park & Preserve on 400 acres of coastal hillsides and wetlands at Banning Ranch in Newport. This vision has raised millions of dollars and is now in the acquisition process for permanent public protection. Working hand in hand with the native communities to protect and steward culturally and archeologically significant land and restore the threatened and endangered ecologies with wildlife preserves, trails, interpretive gardens, and educational and community-oriented venues should be of primary importance for San Juan Capistrano.

We need affordable housing and commercial development, but those can be accomplished through redevelopment of already urbanized places, which cities and their developers these days have to be forced to undertake. They always want to bulldoze the open fields, and this must stop. We must invest in our wild sage scrub hillsides for people to enjoy for generations to come.

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