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By Mayor Kathy Ward
In a normal year, the mayor gives a State of the City address in April to the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, San Clemente businesses and our honorable state and county elected officials.
The city begins a new fiscal year on July 1, and because we are approaching a new year, I wanted to provide a snapshot of the state of the city to the people of San Clemente.
As your mayor, I am happy to say our city will emerge from the past year fiscally healthy, with a positive and balanced budget. The city has been able to meet the challenges of operations during the pandemic, supporting our residents and business owners and still being able to continue with initiatives for our city.
North Beach was designated as a Historic District. This makes me extremely happy, because North Beach is coming back to its rightful place as a recreational public place for residents to gather next to the ocean. North Beach was the No. 1 focus area in the General Plan that the residents wanted us to work on, and we honored that request.
The city responded to the health emergency by adding outdoor dining. While it has been very popular, the council is considering charging for that space, and it is anticipated not all outdoor dining will remain.
The council has voted to leave the Transportation Corridor Agencies and will no longer be a member city of that Joint Powers Authority agreement.
TCA’s interest in putting an unnecessary toll road through the middle of our city has put the city at odds with TCA actions since 2016. Anyone saying our city will not have a voice anymore is just repeating public posturing by the TCA itself. Our city has more power on its own than by being a signatory in this agreement.
City council commissioned a study of our legal representation and billings in response to statements made on social media that city legal costs have been inappropriate and out of control. The council felt it was time to get an outside, independent audit to provide the public with the facts of our legal representation, and that audit will be coming to the city council on the second meeting of June.
The council promoted Erik Sund to be our city manager. Hiring a city manager is the only personnel decision in which city council has a role in the decision. Our recruitment was delayed last year after our mayor resigned and there was instability within the council.
It is difficult to hire a city manager when the city council is not working effectively. Hiring from within our organization ensures the historic knowledge that Mr. Sund possesses remains in our city, along with his experience, and keeps our city strong.
In closing, I want to say thank you for supporting our local businesses and working together through this past year. We live in the great city of San Clemente, with a rich history dating back to 1928, founded by a man who had a vision for a city where people could live together better than anywhere else.
There are many people over these past 93 years who have believed how special San Clemente is and have worked very hard to bring the dream to a reality, and that includes every city manager, employee, committee and commission member, civic groups, and certainly every elected official who supports this town and fights for it.
It’s not always easy to lead this city, but what San Clemente means to our residents and why we live here are worth everything we can give. It is an honor to be your mayor.
Kathy Ward, appointed mayor of San Clemente for 2021, is a city councilmember who was elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018.