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Kathy Ward

By Mayor Kathy Ward

It is always rewarding when issues get resolved and ideas come together. When these are city issues, it takes time and a team to get things done.

That team is our staff, the council and residents. We all work together for the good of our city. When there is an initiative that requires planning or zoning, it is a process consisting of a series of meetings that provide for public participation and input.

The largest city process was updating our city’s General Plan. It began with a large group of citizens on the General Plan Action Committee. They met publicly for two years to study all areas of our city.

The process then went to the Planning Commission for more deliberation and public meetings; and when it finally went to the city council, the council went through the draft, page-by-page, before voting to approve it.

Some people may not know that we have a General Plan that sets out how areas can be developed, including guidelines for design that can include limits to height and density. These guidelines are built into our zoning code.

There are policies to mitigate traffic, visual, and noise impacts. These policies apply to any new development in our city. Two areas of priority in the General Plan are North Beach and South El Camino Real. This focus has led to North Beach’s revitalization, which is almost complete.

South El Camino Real has two approved projects for the corners of the Valencia intersection. The last empty lot remaining at that intersection, often called the Christmas tree lot, has interested parties looking to develop it. This is welcome news to all residents who have waited decades for this area to be improved.

I have reached out to the Architectural Guild of Orange County to assist and lend their expertise in planning a new landscape plan for the offramp at El Camino Real. I believe new landscaping will complete the revitalization of this area that has long been impacted by the freeway, and anything planned for that area will require council approval.

If you have not heard, the issue of whether a toll road is being built through our city has been answered. San Clemente signed a cooperative agreement with the County of Orange and Orange County Transportation Authority that memorializes an agreement of what transportation projects will be built. This includes an agreement that there will be no road built through the middle of our city.

Having the threat of a toll road hanging over our city for so long was unfair to our residents and detrimental to city operations and planning. I personally want to thank Sen. Patricia Bates for her support of legislation; Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, for leading all parties to an agreement; and Mayor Pro Tem Gene James, for his representation of our city with me as directors on the TCA board and his work on this agreement.

Thank you to the city council majority, the Board of Supervisors, and the OCTA Board of Directors for recognizing good transportation solutions for South County. Thank you to all the residents who worked so hard to protect San Clemente’s open space and all of you who fought to keep it.

With the good news that transportation projects have now been set for our region, our residents can remove the “No Toll Road Through San Clemente” stickers from your cars. I will be removing mine.

Like I said before, it’s rewarding when issues are resolved.

Kathy Ward, appointed mayor of San Clemente for 2021, is a city councilmember who was elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018.

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comments (1)

  • The Transportation Corridor Agencies, TCA specifically the F/ETCA was not part of this agreement. This does not stop the TCA from doing anything. At the Orange County Planning Commission meeting of December 9, 2020, Nicole Walsh, the County Attorney, stated that the TCA could take over the County’s Interests of the LPPE/LPP thru eminent domain. She also stated this at the February 16, 2021 San Clemente City Council meeting.…/PC%20Audio%2012-9-20_0… She also stated this at the February 16, 2021 San Clemente City Council meeting.

    The TCA is already on record of possibly funding the LPPE/LPP. According to the TCA webpage, CEO Samuel Johnson noted that, “TCA’s focus on sound fiscal practices and innovation were on full display with this refunding. Our team evaluated market conditions and developed a strategy that appealed to both current and new investors, resulting in significant savings and strengthening the Agency’s ability to further reduce debt and consider support of regional projects like the Ortega Highway widening and the County’s Los Patrones Extension.”

    Additionally, the City of San Clemente can also fund this project thru Measure M2 Funds. Mr. Lance Larson from the OCTA stated the following:
    ” M2 funds that the city receives comes from different categories –
    1) via formula basis to be used for transportations purposes (based on sales tax and city road miles) and 2) via a competitive grant process based on periodical calls for projects – the San Clemente Trolley would be a good example within this category. I do not believe that any city earmarked Measure M2 funds would be used for the un-tolled Los Patrones Parkway (LPP), unless the city chose to do so.”

    This information is very important because the City of San Clemente could decide to fund the LPP/LPPE. That is something that many San Clemente residents should know.
    Additionally, this cooperative agreement also destroyed Senator Pat Bates bill’s, SB 760 and SB 761, which the TCA opposed. SB 760 was doing very well before it was held back by Senator Bates at the California Committee on Appropriations. Council Member Duncan told the public that it wasn’t doing well, but he was wrong. Why should we be thanking Supervisor Bartlett when she was the one to propose the LPPE? San Clemente residents didn’t want it going into our town not even by one foot and certainly not 800 feet! Consequently, this multi-agency cooperative agreement forced Senator Bates to withdraw her bills and people were counting on her legislation. Many San Clemente residents are disappointed with Senator Bates.

    What would be more iron clad than legislation to protect our open spaces, established communities, schools, parks and recreations centers, businesses, homes, and churches?

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