By Chris Hamm, Mayor of San Clemente
People build strong communities. We are fortunate to live in a community that has a high level of volunteerism, a growing economy and a wide range of amenities for active lifestyles. Our community is this way because of community pride and citizen engagement. Maintaining our strong community is not any one person’s responsibility—it’s everyone’s responsibility, and together we make a better community.
Our deputies, code compliance officers and Retired Senior Volunteer Program volunteers, who are local seniors volunteering their time, can only be in so many places at once, so it is helpful when our citizenry reports suspicious activity or suspected code violations. Naturally, if you witness a crime in progress, call 911. The prompt and detailed reporting of problems can actually help us prevent violent crimes. And remember, a crime is never solved unless someone reports it.
The city of San Clemente funds a graffiti-removal program for public property and the public right-of-way; however, this program would not be successful without the public stepping up to report graffiti when they first see it. Citizens and volunteers should report graffiti incidents using the city’s 24-hour graffiti-removal hotline. A community commitment to no tolerance for the crime of graffiti vandalism is one way to maintain our beautiful town. If we don’t remove graffiti, then our property values decline, business is driven away and we send a message that nobody cares about the community. Removing graffiti tells the vandals that people care about the community and that their work has little chance of being seen.
The same goes for reporting code violations throughout town. A recent example is the number of resident complaints about residences where groups of people live but do not abide by good neighbor and nuisance laws. The city is currently studying how to best regulate uses that involve group-living arrangements for the benefit of the people living there as well as their neighbors. But please remember that nuisances and code violations are never OK. Citizens should remain vigilant and report any complaints related to property maintenance, nuisance, building, fire codes and parking.
Another area experiencing an increase in incidents is with vacation rentals, or VRBOs. Several full-time residents have complained about disturbances. The Municipal Code allows the city to place the bad-behavior rentals on notice. Out of the few hundred VRBOs in town there are maybe six that have been a demonstrated nuisance to surrounding residents. If a code-compliance officer or sheriff’s deputy is called out for a disturbance, then the city can fine the owner $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for subsequent violations, which is usually a good deterrent to prevent future bad behavior.
A big part of maintaining our community is to report code violations that you observe. You may feel bad about reporting violations that you feel are minor compared to more serious violations of the law. This should not be the case. The city takes all complaints seriously and investigates. Oftentimes, it is the cumulative effect of a lot of small violations that create a large effect on the community. Here are some handy phone numbers to keep in your phone:
Code Compliance: 949.361.6191
24-hour Graffiti Removal Hotline: 949.361.8385
San Clemente Police Services: 949.770.6011
Learn more by reviewing the San Clemente Municipal Code of Ordinances at www.san-clemente.org. Thanks for lending a hand to your community. Every effort—big or small—plays a role in helping us do good for our community.
Check out the city’s new promotional video that highlights our great community, and share it with others to promote tourism and business in San Clemente: youtu.be/t-XdVN88Jpo. Lastly, let me give a shout out to the San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Foundation, which is sponsoring the city’s Concert & Movie in the Park on Friday, Aug. 28 at Linda Lane Park. Wiggs and Ties will perform at 6 p.m. and Lego Movie will show at 7:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!
Chris Hamm is the Mayor of San Clemente. He was elected by the City Council in 2014.