The Race for City Council
Leading up to the San Clemente City Council General Election on Nov. 3, the San Clemente Times is publishing three questions, one every two weeks, that we’ve asked each candidate who is running for the two four-year seats. Be sure to look for next week’s edition, when we’ll publish responses from the Special Election candidates. The list of candidates is published according to the random alphabet the California Secretary of State recently drew.
The public-health crisis has upended the livelihood of citizens and businesses throughout the nation, and it is likely to be an ongoing dilemma as we enter 2021. If elected to the council, what economic recovery-based policies and programs would you propose locally to help San Clemente’s businesses and residents?
Our city has been transforming from “don’t do that” to “here is what we can do.” At first, there was heavy-handed enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, from dumping sand in the skatepark to fenced off Pier Bowl parking. Gradually, things changed. Open beaches on Fourth of July weekend did not spell disaster, as many had predicted. Outdoor dining is now a popular attraction. We must keep this momentum going. Subject to health guidelines, I will make sure the city gets creative in reopening parks, restarting recreation programs and helping businesses maximize their operations. Our new motto will be “Just Say Yes!”
Jeff Provance Jr.
Limiting this question to 100 words is an injustice to the people and local business. I own an Irish pub here in San Clemente and know the complicated landscape COVID-19 presents. I will work with council on making sure all businesses are getting what they need no matter their address or how big or small they are. I will put enormous pressure on the city departments that will ensure permits are processed and issued quickly and with less red tape. The goal is to streamline the process and work on lowering the outrageous fees associated with permits, both commercial and residential.
San Clemente needs strong local businesses. We accomplish that by eliminating needless government regulation, streamlining essential processes and procedures, and hiring the right city manager. Further, the city needs councilmembers who can execute that vision and have deep financial knowledge. I am that candidate. Let’s analyze business responses to the pandemic for long-term implementation, like increasing store and restaurant footprints by utilizing outdoor public space. Additionally, we need to increase access to capital for our local businesses. Lastly, let’s enhance our city’s business liaison program and find innovative programs to increase traffic to our city’s businesses.
This pandemic is unprecedented and nothing I’ve experienced to this extent in my lifetime. We must review lessons learned to date, review rules, regulations, codes, ordinances, zoning, etc., and determine are they still relevant, can they be adapted with responsible growth, can they meet unprecedented times and pivot for future growth.
- I will encourage a review of current committee structure:
- Do they meet the needs of our city going forward?
- Are they too small, do they require growth?
- Do they require fresh leadership, accountability and new ideas?
- Review/create/update a marketing plan to communicate to all businesses for future success.
Our businesses are hurting, and they need local leadership to step up. That’s why I’m proposing these policies, which will help our businesses who need it most:
- Fully resource the Building and Planning Divisions so businesses can make necessary capital improvements without delay;
- Issue extended outdoor business guidance to local merchants so they can act with certainty, while considering zoning changes that allow some to continue operating outdoors permanently;
- Create a long-term, mini-grant program analogous to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program in San Diego County;
- Promote the construction of affordable housing to increase the customer base along our commercial corridors.
The key to recovery is compromise. Socially distance when in public, protect the vulnerable and elderly with curbside pickup options and other COVID-19 adaptive measures, but open everything up. Let the people choose what they want to partake in based on their level of risk. If hospitals are not being overwhelmed, the city should be open. San Clemente has been proactive in keeping restaurants open with street-side dining accommodations. More efforts like this should be made, whereby the city is a creative and adaptive leader. San Clemente cannot control Sacramento, but we can control how we react to it.
My first priority will be working with the Board of Supervisors to obtain already allocated funds to assist our small businesses and nonprofits recovering from COVID-19. I will also work with our Sacramento representatives to obtain additional funding. I will remain approachable, and my door will always be open to San Clemente residents and business owners.
The local economic-based recovery policies and programs I would support due to the current public health crisis are: 1) Engaging and requesting the county to continue the Small Business Grant Relief Program, as many of our small businesses locally either missed the deadlines or did not know the grants were available during the application time period. 2) A new policy that I would support is having the city extend/suspend the business license fees temporarily, until the shutdowns have eased significantly. This can free up the important financial capital for businesses to continue operations.
This pandemic has tested the mettle of city leadership. As your councilmember, I stepped up and led from the front, helping put this city on a path of economic recovery. I took the lead creating outdoor dining throughout the city; it will be permanent. We should be known as the most business-friendly city anywhere. Streamlining and automating our permitting and planning processes will spur economic growth and make us incredibly competitive. I was the impetus for creating an economic development officer. Last year, I promised straight talk and strong leadership. I have not and will not let you down.
As your councilman, I will ensure we keep our beaches, parks and businesses open in a responsible manner. A few proposals on how the city can help include: launching a marketing campaign to attract our Southern Californian neighbors to support local businesses; regulatory relief to reduce barriers for all permitting, development and events; guide city spending to support local business whenever possible; provide access to free business recovery training; and create a fund as a safety net for our residents. Challenging times call for strong, creative and resilient leadership. I’m prepared to lead San Clemente to come out stronger and more prosperous.