By Councilwoman Lori Donchak
As many know, I delight in hiking trails around San Clemente. During this City Council election season, I channeled those hiking skills to campaign walk San Clemente neighborhoods.
A sincere, heartfelt thanks to all of you who answered your doors, invested the time and shared your views on our wonderful town. I chose to campaign on foot because I believe being an effective City Council member is all about representation. It’s also a great way to listen. I’m honored and thankful to be chosen to represent you for another term and I commit to being an active and attentive representative.
Here’s what I learned while on the campaign trail. Importantly, pretty much everyone is happy in San Clemente. “No issues” was the most common response I received when asking—and that reply was accompanied by a smile. It’s true we live in a special place.
When there is concern, traffic tops the list. Between new freeway carpool lanes, the La Pata connection to San Juan Capistrano and new visitors expected to shop at Marblehead, you asked that traffic leadership be a priority for the next City Council.
An immediate response: we’ll introduce a mobility taskforce in 2015, with the goal of safe and efficient transportation around town, whether by car, bus, trolley, bicycle or foot. And yes, improved parking at beach access points and for downtown shopping locations will be part of the charter.
You requested more activities for young people. Interestingly, many of you look forward to the Marblehead retail project because of the jobs it will provide our youth. Faith-based groups around town are also seen as essential to the well-being of the younger generation.
I was impressed by appreciation for Vista Hermosa Sports Park, described as “world class,” “top flight” and “why we moved to San Clemente.” Ahead for early 2015 is development of a master plan for San Clemente’s parks system to pinpoint opportunities in our recreation offerings. Please make your voice heard on this project. It’s so important to guide and inspire future generations.
Water worries: Drought conditions require new habits. Your questions about whether home owner’s associations use best practices for water conservation have been passed on to city staff for follow-up. Some asked where to report instances of sprinklers causing urban run-off: contact email@example.com or the Utilities Department at 949.361.3854. The city website, www.san-clemente.org also has great tips and rebates for residents interested in drought-tolerant landscape ideas or ways to reduce water use. It was gratifying to hear positive comments about the city’s expanded commitment to irrigation with reclaimed water.
Fourteen hundred doors sounds like a lot of walking, and it was. However, it’s only a fraction of the community. We’re a more effective City Council if we know your priorities. Please let me know what’s on your mind: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or arrange a visit to City Hall on Monday afternoons during my City Council hours. Please, let’s keep the door open at all times.
A final note: many said you missed the 2014 hike to San Clemente Summit. No worries, we’ll schedule a New Year’s hike in January. Details to follow.
Lori Donchak is in her third term as a member of the San Clemente City Council and served as mayor in 2011.