Martin Berube, San Clemente
With residents’ best interests at heart, the General Plan Advisory Committee recently voted to limit downtown buildings to two stories.
The issue—and the vote—came up too quickly for parliamentary control to stymie residents’ strongly held sentiments on village character.
Since then our Planning Commission overruled that GPAC vote, saying we should just trust them to “do the right thing.”
Really? Let’s look at the record: The Planning Commission loved and defended Ralph’s Village Courtyard, a three-story parking garage and massive retail project 45-feet in height with miniscule set backs towering over El Camino Real. It was narrowly vetoed by the City Council
The Planning Commission loved and defended the North Beach LAB project, a give-away of public land calling for 15 feet of fill dirt to be dumped on our beach parking lot, topped with a three-story mixed use dining and retail center blocking ocean views from properties on El Camino Real. This project ripped our town apart through two ballot actions; it was finally defeated as Measure A by a plurality of the voters.
The Planning Commission loved and defended condos on open space, a zoning variance approved by City Council as the only way to fund development of the Vista Hermosa Sports Park. It was defeated as Measure C by the people. And we got our Sports Park anyway.
The Planning Commission approved and defended the Marblehead Sign Variance, a glaring violation of our quality of life, to appease a rapacious outlet mall developer. It was also approved by the City Council. Residents sued and prevailed in court to overturn the variance.
The record shows you cannot trust the Planning Commission to uphold established city standards. Its poor judgment has cost taxpayers millions in legal fees, wasted time and energy.
It takes a strong City Council to keep the commission in check. No. 1 Bob Baker and Chris Hamm are the only Council candidates strong enough to put residents’ interest first.