By Wayne Eggleston
To those calling themselves Oles, the master planned community called Talega is a far-away tract development removed from what they call “the real San Clemente.” Fortunately, this division is dying away with time, as the central part of San Clemente finally unites with one of the most beautiful planned communities in California. As a real estate appraiser, I visit dozens and dozens of master planned communities in my appraisal business and I must tell you that Talega is on the top of my list as the best of all the quality planned communities.
The architecture is predominately Spanish-Tuscan with more than 2,000 acres of open space, 19 miles of trails, excellent schools and a magnificent sports center called Talega Swim and Athletic Club. The Talega Golf Club, with its signature architecture and superb golf course, extends through the middle of the community. And have you tried their Sunday brunch? The city parks are some of the best in San Clemente: Talega Park, Tierra Grande Park and Liberty Park. The over- 55 community called Gallery has some of the finest homes anywhere. The Rancho Mission Viejo Ecological Reserve, also called the Richard & Donna O’Neill Conservancy, abuts Talega, and while it is not legally accessible from Talega, one can make reservations to visit this truly beautiful place. The Village at Talega is better than most shopping centers, but it would have been the wishes of some to have had it planned as a true village street with a main street, restaurants, cafes and shops. That would have been very special and given Talega their very own “downtown village” character that we presently see on the vibrant Avenida Del Mar.
And yes, the route of the toll road is planned to divide the conservancy and destroy a beautiful wilderness. Currently, we have seen plans to connect the end of the toll road at Pico, thus making Pico a traffic clogged and noisy major arterial. The toll road saga continues, and who knows how it will eventually be planned. But if it ends at Pico, the serenity of Talega will be damaged.
Now, I know some of my friends have now fainted on the floor, as I am a historic preservationist and am tied to the historic area of San Clemente. But it is time for all of us to unite with shared values and admiration for each other’s attributes and qualities. Constructive cooperation and a shared sense of community make for a stronger San Clemente. I bet that more residents from Talega have visited “the historic downtown village” than many on the west side of the freeway have visited Talega. Fortunately I have many friends in Talega and have walked their neighborhoods, visited the restaurants in Talega Village, and been to all of their parks. I must say Talega is very walkable with sidewalks, which are absent in many parts of older San Clemente.
So what can we all do to come together as “one.” Those who have not visited Talega and those who consider themselves Oles, get in your cars and take a Sunday drive. Have brunch at Talega Golf Club, eat in one of the restaurants in Talega Village, play at one of the city parks, and walk one of their neighborhoods. And, how can Talega residents unite and share the same values that have made our Spanish Village by the Sea one of the best coastal communities in California? Share the same values for historic preservation, which make us special and unique and a fierce determination to keep our beaches and beach-front areas free from commercialization. Huntington Beach South we are not!
Yes, we can respect each other’s values. It just takes a little effort for everyone.