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By Mayor Kathy Ward
As we begin 2021, we are at a place we hoped would never happen.
Currently, we have a larger surge of virus cases than we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic. Orange County’s initial stay-at-home order kept the transmission low, but as we increased activities and interactions, the number of cases increased.
After increased travel and gathering with the Thanksgiving holiday, our ICU bed availability is at a 0% adjusted capacity. Our county is tied to all of Southern California, and that means all of Southern California is at 0% and that our medical facilities, medical personnel and first responders are impacted.
The city has undertaken safety precautions to protect the public and to protect the health of city employees. Preventing an outbreak among city ranks ensures all services will continue without interruption.
City staff has continued to process permits, conduct inspections and provide the necessary services to keep all systems running. Our public has enough things to be concerned about during this unprecedented time, but the city is not one of those, nor should it ever be.
While staff is diligently working to keep everything moving, it is not operations as usual. All the extras the city provides, such as recreation classes, have been limited, and all events have been canceled.
The city projected reduced revenues in this year’s budget, but that does not mean the city is in the red. Reduced revenues are offset by reduced expenditures in the budget. The city’s budget is balanced, and there is enough money to continue to provide city services. Revenue and expenditures are currently tracking at the level the city has forecasted for the first two quarters.
City management pulled a city planner, Jonathan Lightfoot, into a position of economic development. He has been the point person to assist business owners, and he has created a place on the city’s website for all information that businesses need to assist them during this pandemic.
Mr. Lightfoot assists businesses and still works on projects such as overseeing renovation of the Miramar and the bowling alley in North Beach.
An application for North Beach to be designated a historic district recently met all requirements and is on its way to approval. North Beach is one of the focus areas of the Centennial General Plan and has received priority from city councils since 2015.
City council recently voted to make available more grant money toward economic relief for business owners.
The council continues to work diligently on issues and recently signed a cooperative agreement with Rancho Mission Viejo and the County of Orange for an extension to Los Patrones Parkway to La Pata that replaces any need for a toll road through San Clemente.
Many organizations in San Clemente are providing relief to residents:
- Family Assistance Ministries continues to provide food assistance and works to prevent homelessness with the programs they provide. They have experienced a 110% increase in the number of people requesting assistance. Monetary donations can be made to assist their mission, but they also have a high-end resale shop on El Camino Real, where you can donate furniture, jewelry and housewares that can be sold to provide funding.
- Saddleback Church has held drive-thru food distribution events. Saddleback San Clemente has grocery distributions. For more information, visit saddleback.com/getfood.
- The Dorothy Visser Senior Center has a “Meals on Wheels” program for our seniors and a food pantry that needs donations to keep it stocked. Donations are taken Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Any senior needing meals delivered can call 949.498.3322.
- Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area has modified its operations to provide whatever is needed to help families, providing online distance learning, food deliveries and any other assistance they can think of to support children’s futures.
All of these organizations are stepping up to help residents in San Clemente through this time. I hope you will join in helping these organizations.
Please shop local. Supporting local businesses with your purchases will help put San Clemente in a better place. San Clemente will get through this, and it will take all of us working together to do it.
Kathy Ward, appointed mayor of San Clemente for 2021, is a city councilmember who was elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018.