By Eric Heinz

After about a year and a half of research, meetings and community outreach, the San Clemente City Council voted to approve the Beaches, Parks & Recreation division’s master plan.

The master plan is intended to guide the city’s decisions for maintenance and improvement of its existing facilities and reflects the public’s desires for new facilities and amenities.

Some of the top priorities the city’s residents listed throughout the surveys and questionnaires included beach trails and hiking opportunities as well as special events at parks and wellness events on the beaches.

A sport that’s rapidly growing in popularity, establishing pickleball courts within the city has been advocated by people since the beginning. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, more people spoke during the public comment session asking to transition unused or underused tennis courts into pickleball courts, which are smaller and usually require smaller nets.

Stephanie Aguilar, who co-leads the San Clemente Skatepark Coalition, said she was appreciative of the city’s efforts and the master plan and said she hopes to continue working with the city to increase skate parks or at least increase the size of the existing skate park and to provide adequate lighting for them. The Ralphs Skatepark, which is tucked into the southeast section of the city, is currently unlighted and on busy days becomes too crowded.

The master plan doesn’t set these priorities in stone. Neelay Bhatt, the vice president of Pros Consulting, Inc., which conducted the master plan, said master plans for recreational facilities are typically supposed to be updated every five or six years, or at least that it’s “best practices” to do so. The city hadn’t updated a master plan for recreational facilities since 1999.

The Beaches, Parks & Recreation master plan is available at www.san-clemente.org under the government tab of the City Council agenda for March 20.

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