The Race for City Council
Leading up to the San Clemente City Council Special 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-year seat. Be sure to look for next week’s edition, when we’ll publish responses to the second question from the General 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?
As a local business owner and a downtown resident, I have seen the strain this pandemic has put on local businesses, on our building and planning departments, and on residents. If elected to the city council, I will work with staff leadership to streamline processes for permitting, and continue to expand upon commerce-promoting strategies like open-air dining. I will also promote continued programming from city staff and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Association, as their efforts have helped businesses and resident organizations navigate the landscape of liability during this health crisis. Furthermore, I believe we should continue to encourage participation from business and property owners in our major business districts, to help address issues that face their business districts, and work together to solve them.
As your councilman “Ladderman,” I would support streamlining the permit process. Although the city may need improvement, most of the problem lies with the state, county, fire and health departments. But council can help. So, my advice is to raise the expenditure limit that triggers mandated upgrades that hinder remodels and improvements and increase cost. These include ADA improvements undergrounding, grease traps, trash enclosures for now. I advise businesses to open up their dining areas and let the outside in and extend the inside out by installing lighting fire pits and spacing between your customers. Get the planning department to back off the Spanish architectural revival when it obstructs these preferred business buildouts. I build restaurants and pull permits for a living.
With Gov. Newsom at the control of almost all phases of life in California, it seems that regulations change week to week, day to day, with no end in sight. San Clemente city government has tried to help businesses survive. Outdoor dining on Avenida Del Mar and the T-Zone has helped relieve pressure on the restaurants, but has caused parking problems at the same time. Limited parking has reduced access to other business on Del Mar. I would hope that the city would reject the raise in fees for parking at the pier. There must be a balance for our business interests. With fall and winter coming, tents will be needed to accommodate diners outside. A business-tax holiday and allowing outdoor advertising and sidewalk sales would help with reducing the impact.
I would push city management to expedite our planning and permitting process. As a 15-year former business owner in San Clemente obtaining city permits (reroofing, solar, skylights), a hiatus in strict enforcement of regulations would assist San Clemente property and business owners. Also, many of us have purchased gift certificates from our local stores and restaurants, and this will continue to be supportive and thoughtful to our friends and neighbors such as the SC Gym, Café Calypso and Bear Coast Coffee. I would encourage a partial continuation of the county grant program that has assisted our small businesses with rent and other expenses. In addition, less fearful public notices, which include the total number of COVID-19 tests performed, to include the number of recovered would be a more helpful understanding of our current situation.
Small businesses are the core of our economy. I will work tirelessly to lift them up and support them through the pandemic. My No. 1 priority is to prevent the spread of infection and keep SC open for business. My plan includes:
- Work with an independent administrator to allocate and distribute federal, state and county resources wisely. Extend that lifeline and then sustain businesses for the long term. Work with city staff to navigate additional funding, grants, opportunities for businesses. Work with our Chamber of Commerce, listen and respond to needs/requests.
- Permits for outside dining, signage to promote business to tourists and us! Bring the trolley back permanently.
- Listen to business owners. Keep communications open. Be responsive to all SC businesses. Opportunity for all!
Economic recovery requires action while COVID-19 is still spreading!
It is inequitable for the citizens to suffer economic hardship—massive job loss and crushed budgets—while our city government goes on as though nothing has happened. To assist our citizens, I would advocate for:
- Extending the street and sidewalk restaurant uses for the foreseeable future.
- Refund to businesses their license fees for the year and waive new business license fees for at least an equal amount of time as the COVID-19 restrictions exist.
- Waive temporary banner restrictions and fees so businesses can promote their operations.
- Waive parking meter fees and pet fees for the duration of the lockdown.
- Reduce or eliminate building-permit fees for new or existing construction fees paid, dating back to March 2020.
As a 16-year resident, small business owner, and current Planning Commissioner, I will use my land use planning expertise to propose policies and programs as your councilmember to: work with local businesses, DBA, Chamber of Commerce, and staff to stimulate new ideas to help attract customers; streamline permit process; hire a city manager who excels in economic development; further facilitate outdoor dining, shopping, and events; transform Del Mar for enhanced pedestrian experience; establish North Beach Historic District to promote tourism; incentivize developments in underused areas; shop local; implement health guidelines to further contain the virus so businesses and schools can reopen, people can return to work, and citizens can socialize again safely. Combined, they’ll bring more business and job opportunities and achieve long-term economic vitality, resiliency, and sustainability for our Spanish Village by the Sea.
I would say for me it’s about coming together and helping one another out the best way that we can by putting the proper measures in place so that everyone feels safe and secure on what business that we go to. I think there should be a fund created to help out the city, where we the councilmembers come up with a name and we ask the people of San Clemente, because for me, I’m for the people, and it’s only right I can’t just jump into something without asking the people of San Clemente on what they feel and what they want to get done. We work for the community, and if we all come together, then we as a community can accomplish anything. So, let’s ride this wave together.