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By Tim Brown, Mayor Pro Tem, City of San Clemente

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” —Buffalo Bill

About 1.1 million people during a year hear the call and head to the San Clemente Coastal Trail for a beachside run, bike ride or walk. Designed to accommodate everyone from leashed dogs to families with babies in strollers, this multi-use trail has grown in popularity. It’s no surprise that annual visits have soared from 270,000 users to current levels, following the trail dedication in 2008.

Like our beaches and parks, the Coastal Trail has become a treasured amenity in our Spanish Village by the Sea. In 2010, the trail was honored with the “Quality of Life Award” presented by the Southern California Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture. Ultimately, that is what the trail is all about—improving the quality of life for healthier and happier residents. San Clemente’s Coastal Trail experienced such a high rate of use from residents and visitors that it had to be resurfaced in 2012, long before the city had anticipated.

Did you know the Coastal Act of 1976 called for a continuous coastal trail the length of California, connecting cities and towns with natural resources and coastal parks? The San Clemente Coastal Trail, currently 2.3 miles long, connects North Beach to Calafia Beach with stops along the way at the Pier and T Street. This trail created a beautiful beachfront pathway that opened up the opportunity for more people to enjoy the serene ambiance of San Clemente and have improved access to the city’s 4.7 miles of beaches. It also brought the California Coastal Trail, a 1,200-mile hiking trail along the state’s shoreline, that much closer to reality. The California Coastal Trail is currently more than half complete.

Unquestionably, San Clemente’s beach trail is a success and its popularity is expanding. When looking into the future of San Clemente, I see a need to expand the trail southward from Calafia connecting to the tunnel at San Clemente State Park. In my view, the only thing better than a beach trail, is more beach trail. I will be a passionate advocate of seeing this happen as soon as possible. The extension would result in San Clemente’s Coastal Trail serving as a significant link in this statewide Coastal Trail vision, making more of the beach accessible to the public by creating a coordinated access system of regional and statewide significance.

Though having just over a million users of the beach trail is a respectable use when compared to many local neighborhood trails, there is great potential to get more people experiencing the health and fitness benefits of the trail should a connection be made to the state park. Extension of the trail would certainly comply with the city’s overall goal for open space and trails, as outlined in the Draft General Plan, “To provide a safe, environmentally sustainable and attractive open space and trails network, including walking, bicycling, hiking and equestrian trails that connects key open space areas and recreational amenities.” The plan also addresses accessibility to residents and visitors and provides recreational and visitor-serving opportunities.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Please email me at brownt@san-clemente.org, and if you would like a printable map of the San Clemente Coastal Trail, which includes general information about the trail, please visit www.san-clemente.org.

This month’s “Council Corner” author Tim Brown is the Mayor Pro Tem of San Clemente. He has served on the City Council since his election in 2010.

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the SC Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the SC Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at editorial@sanclementetimes.com

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