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By Councilmember Gene James
Recently, I had the honor of being elected to San Clemente City Council. I ran on a platform of quality of life and public safety—two goals I will keep paramount with every decision.
I believe public safety is my most sacred obligation to the taxpayers and citizens of San Clemente; safeguarding San Clemente’s very special quality of life commands my every thought. No city, small or large, anywhere in the world compares to our unique city. I commit to zealously guard our San Clemente way of life.
We have the continued presence of the Transportation Corridor Agencies. Many of the TCA board members would have no qualms about building a scar of concrete and steel through our city. I will oppose their efforts with every fiber of my being.
Additionally, the TCA, in conjunction with the California Department of Transportation, could conceivably expand Interstate 5 for the immense profitability of managed lanes. This would require the demolition of many local businesses, the iconic San Clemente Presbyterian Church and the homes of our friends and neighbors.
The TCA should instead pay off their billions of dollars of debt, remove existing tolls on taxpayer-maintained roads and, most importantly, stay out of San Clemente.
Sacramento’s “Trifecta for Professional Criminals” also threatens our way of life. The Trifecta comprises Propositions 47 and 57, and Assembly Bill 109. Prop 47, billed as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” has decriminalized everything from hard drugs to stealing up to $950. Prop 57, billed as the “Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial,” has pushed prisoners onto the street without serving their sentences. AB 109 transferred state prisoners to the counties, which forced counties to release prisoners into communities.
Prop 47 and 57 and AB 109 have caused an increase in nuisance crimes such as public urination and defecation on our streets, parks and beaches, brazen shoplifting from our shopkeepers and auto burglaries in our neighborhoods.
The failed bill SB 10, which eliminates bail for those accused of crimes, will now appear on the ballot as a proposition in November; it must be defeated. While the majority party in our state legislature continues to assist and enable criminals, they are simultaneously depriving law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights and the ability to protect themselves and their families.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals in Martin v. City of Boise has thwarted the ability of law enforcement to handle the problem of those living on our streets by restricting the enforcement of no-camping ordinances.
The majority on our streets are mentally ill or addicted. They need help battling their addictions and mental illness. We need to dispense with the homeless industrial complex’s failed strategy of sourcing housing without first treating addiction and mental health. I remain an adamant opponent to a regional shelter or permanent supportive housing in San Clemente.
It is conceivable the current public safety crisis could morph into a public health crisis with the coronavirus hitting our shores. We should have no doubt the virus will run through this group like wildfire due to very poor sanitation habits of those living on the streets.
We will require assistance from the county and state to ensure an epidemic that could threaten our families and city does not occur. It is noteworthy that diseases that disappeared long ago are now appearing among those living on our streets.
These are the challenges we face in protecting our great city. I will remain focused on protecting San Clemente families and children.
Gene James is a councilmember who was elected in 2019.