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By City Councilmember Lori Donchak
Those of you who participated in Lori Donchak Mayor’s Walks know that stepping out is one of my favorite things to do.
How else to see first-hand all that San Clemente offers? And what a great way to connect with the community. Stepping out with the people in our town has been the foundation of my 12 years as a city councilwoman and an essential part of representing you.
Thank you for the privilege to serve San Clemente. I’ve been proud to be your mayor not once, but twice. I’ve been as proud to be a regional and state voice for you. Together, we’ve gone the distance and for good results.
City Council works as a team. However, individual members choose issues and projects to lead, often in response to the community voice. As such, I share my own leadership track record and hope you agree we’ve covered a lot of ground.
We updated The Centennial General Plan. When I assumed office in 2006, our city’s General Plan was already over 10 years old, conceived before a third of us even lived here. I was the catalyst for the new plan and, with the hard work of the General Plan Advisory Committee, we now have a General Plan that celebrates and preserves our quality of life and includes input from all corners.
We have a new library with 21st-century technology and workspaces, an expanded area for children and a fresh, inviting atmosphere. By the way, working with the Orange County Library system on this project convinced me that absolutely no city has a better Friends of the Library volunteer organization than San Clemente.
Our kids walk to school more safely. I’m proud to have brought Safe Routes to School grants to San Clemente, which included a trip to Sacramento to build awareness for our sidewalk needs. Over the past 10 years, our city has received close to $3 million in grant funds for sidewalk improvements at Las Palmas and Concordia Elementary Schools, Shorecliffs Middle School and San Clemente High School.
We created the safety/quiet zone along the Beach Trail. This was a decade-long marathon that required participation from federal, state, county and local stakeholders. A special thanks to John Dorey and Kirk Steele, who contributed countless hours to a complex issue, demonstrating that resident efforts are essential to achieving great results.
San Clemente became home to the first universally accessible playground in south Orange County. Courtney’s Sandcastle is visited by over 300 people of all abilities each day. Learn more about this San Clemente treasure at www.courtneyssandcastle.org.
The SC Trolley came to town. Thanks to a productive and long-standing partnership with OCTA, San Clemente enjoys trolley service all summer and with plans now to connect with Dana Point.
We found, named and hiked to San Clemente Summit, the official highest point in San Clemente.
A councilwoman makes over 1,000 votes each year. I hope my votes correctly represented you, particularly on those critical votes related to stopping the toll road, removing nuclear waste at SONGS, addressing public safety and conservatively managing city finances through a tough recession.
As I step out, may I leave you with one important thought. Please, don’t miss the chance to support and celebrate our city employees. A councilperson is only as good as the city folks who choose to work in our town, and San Clemente is very fortunate to have an outstanding city staff. At the end of the day, it’s their dedication and perseverance that make our city better each day. Happy trails!
Lori Donchak served on San Clemente City Council from 2006 to 2018. She did not seek re-election this year.