By Councilwoman Kathy Ward
The continual enhancement of San Clemente’s beauty and prosperity is something I think we all agree is important. However, when pursuing economic development initiatives, it is a balancing act for your City Council to ensure we respond to our citizens’ desire to preserve San Clemente’s unique village character, while adding new local goods, services and jobs to our community. These things bring convenience and choices to our residents, and foster greater economic stability for our town. We strive to reconcile these goals so that the outcome maintains our quality of life and does not compromise the things we love about living here. When done right, we can strengthen our local economy and increase the revenues needed to provide essential city services to our residents.
Many residents have shared their concerns about traffic that will result from the new retail developments coming to town. Be assured we are taking steps ahead of time to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion around these areas. This involves improving transportation and mobility options for everyone. We’ve all had our patience tested with the ongoing freeway construction and Pico Interchange reconstruction, but the end result will make all the difference for dealing with the increased traffic. There is also a strong possibility for a local trolley, which a decade ago was just a vision but now may very well get rolling into a reality.
Not only will this provide more active, affordable travel and diversity to our town, but I believe this will serve as a great tool for driving the economy to support retail, recreation and tourism. Since Oct. 8, residents have been participating in the city’s online survey to tell us exactly where they’d like the trolley to go. A list of key destinations are noted. So far, more than 500 people have taken the survey, and early results show the trolley has high favorability among respondents. If you haven’t weighed in, there’s still time until Nov. 6. Please go to the survey link so we can include your input at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCcirculator.
Further mobility enhancements will be researched that include bicycles. At our Oct. 20 City Council meeting we voted to allocate funding and pursue grants to study new bicycle paths. Specifically, the study would look at increasing accessibility for bicycles and pedestrians around the underpasses of Avenida Pico, Vista Hermosa, Palizada, Mendocino, Calafia and Camino de Estrella at the San Clemente-Capistrano Beach border. We will also look at the area of South El Camino Real near the I-5 Freeway. How wonderful it would be if we could create a bike path from Avenida La Pata to North Beach and enable people to use the channel and connect people to the beach and coastal trail. A good example of this is the channel that runs through San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, where alongside it is a bike path that continues until you reach the beach. Or, what about exploring the future possibility of an underground bicycle path beneath Pico, which could also serve as a safe crossing tunnel for high school students?
The goal of any of these concepts is to make it safer and more efficient to get around our town. Of course we aren’t seeking a car-free community; just encouraging alternatives to enhance our transportation system, and ensure accessibility options exist that include good walking, cycling, public transit and automobile and taxi service to keep us moving.
As always, I enjoy hearing from you, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathy Ward is a San Clemente City Councilwoman who was elected in 2014.