By Shawn Raymundo
While delivering this year’s State of the City address among a who’s who of local and regional dignitaries Thursday night, San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott proclaimed 2019 to be a “wonderful year of accomplishments and big wins.”
“Here in our city, we are blessed with countless residents and organizations, which strive daily to be humane and remain charitable beyond the norm, and we know they’ll do amazing things in 2019 because they as well understand partnership,” Maryott said.
The mayor delivered the March 14 address to a sold-out crowd at El Adobe de Capistrano. The event, hosted by the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, gathered the local business community as well as city and county officials including, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Lisa Bartlett.
With the theme of “partnering for prosperity,” Maryott spoke about what the city can achieve when the community, stakeholders and businesses work together.
“Partnership, plus collaboration, plus compromise, plus leveraging of resources, equals increasing revenue, critical diversification of our revenue sources and fiscal peace of mind,” he said. “And that, my friend, is partnering for prosperity.”
Maryott, who recently announced his 2020 run for California’s 49th Congressional seat, began his address to highlight some of the city’s successes and “mistakes” in 2018 in order to highlight what’s to come later this year.
“As far as recapping some moments of 2018, and looking ahead to opportunities that lie in front of us, we have a responsibility,” he said. “We have a duty to learn from our mistakes and an obligation to put our best foot forward. Doing so would require some honest assessment as well as some enthusiastic speculation.”
Maryott noted that that in 2018, the city was again able to secure nearly $1 million in Measure M2 grant funds to acquire two trolleys, allowing for about another five years of public transportation for events such as the Swallows Day Parade and Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Through a working relationship with Supervisor Bartlett and the county, Maryott said the city also added police services to address homelessness and received $6 million in funds for the county’s extended use of the Prima Deshecha Landfill.
The negotiations over the landfill, culminated “in a major financial win for our city,” Maryott said.
Last fall also saw the completion of the $1.8 million project to widen Del Obispo Street, Maryott also noted.
One issue from 2018 Maryott criticized highly was the settlement agreement from Orange County Coastkeeper’s lawsuit against the city and Blenheim Facility Management over alleged pollution in San Juan Creek.
The agreement, reached this past September, resulted in the city having to pay $1 million in projects through the California State Parks Foundation and another $1.9 million to cover Coastkeeper’s legal fees.
“The actions and reactions leading up to the Coastkeeper lawsuit, ensuing legal battle and disastrous settlement encompass some of the ugliest and most offensive human traits,” he said. “Pettiness, spite, immaturity, mistrust and worst of all, incomprehensible greed, cloaked as honorable activism, were all on display throughout this sad chapter.
“And it culminated in one of the sloppiest and egregious business decisions I have ever known,” he added. “Forget who voted for what, we all failed—we all failed. And none more so than myself. It pains me that I did not do more.”
And in a message directed toward “future, would-be heroic, world-saving activists” looking to capitalize on “unsuspecting communities,” Maryott said to “stay the hell away from our little city.”
Maryott also noted that while San Juan Capistrano will see the long-awaited opening of the Inn at the Mission late this year, also known as the Plaza Banderas Hotel project, litigation over the planned Hotel Capistrano has left the project in limbo.
“While we celebrate the development of one luxury hotel, we can’t help but notice an empty lot remains where one was planned as well,” Maryott said. “Sadly, instead of collaboration and cooperation, we saw inflexibility and obstruction. And it was costly.”
Bill Griffith, the developer of the Inn at the Mission, filed a lawsuit against the city’s approval of the Hotel Capistrano project, alleging that it was inconsistent with the city’s general plan and building allowances.
O’Neill Strategic Investments purchased the property last fall from Steve Oedekerk’s O Properties. Maryott said he hopes the new owner of the site “is as resilient and determined,” as Oedekerk was to get the hotel constructed.
Based on a tour he and City Manager Ben Siegel recently did of the Inn at the Mission, Maryott gushed over design of the new luxury, 124-room hotel. Last year, the city approved proposed site modifications meant to turn the project from a three-star to a four-star hotel.
“The new design tweaks are brilliant and the finer details are outstanding. I am very confident that our revenue partnership will pay off exponentially for both parties…it’s going to be a huge win for our community,” he said.
And looking further ahead into 2019, Maryott used the recent opening of the new 24 Hour Fitness on Calle Arroyo as an example of projects that can be achieved when the community works together.
“When I enjoy our tremendous new 24 Hour Fitness, and when I remember that it wasn’t much more than a foundation just a few months ago, I’m reminded of what can be accomplished in a year when motivated parties collaborate, partner up and work together, compromising as necessary,” he said.
Another proposed project that is expected to break ground this year, Maryott said, is the River Street Marketplace. The Marketplace project, which is planned to be built on the southeast corner of Paseo Adelanto and River Street, would include nearly 65,000 square feet of commercial and office space across five buildings, according to the city.
“I’m also confident another major project is likely to break ground this year as it becomes increasingly clear that the proposed River Street project is supported by the vast majority of our residents,” he said.
Maryott concluded his address by stating that the city thrives when community is willing to work together and collaborate.
“We need more teamwork, more collaboration; we need more leveraging of resources; we need more compromise. When our city’s in trouble, we all band together. When we have business opportunities and someone’s willing to take the risk, we all band together,” he said, adding the town can never have too much of that.