WAYNE EGGLESTON, former mayor, councilmember and planning commissioner
San Clemente needs senior housing and affordable senior housing—that is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the process of a councilmember independently working with a landowner/developer to design, establish parking, density, affordable units and height limits.
Perhaps he thought that he was doing best for San Clemente, but read on.
I was on the City Council for 12 years and four years on the Planning Commission, and all of us were repeatedly advised by our city manager/city attorney never, ever to meet with an owner of the land/developer to discuss/plan a project.
And if we did meet to only view the proposed plans, we were to meet along with another councilmember, report back to City Council in closed session, and at the time of the vote to disclose the date and discussion/purpose of the meeting in a public forum.
In this case, none of that was done by the councilmember who met independently with MemorialCare, according to Councilmember Kathy Ward.
And why was that sage advice given? To avoid the perception of impropriety and conflict of interest and provide transparency. Pure and simple.
The current plan is 250 senior apartment units, including only 20 senior affordable housing units, that exceeds our height limits with four stories. Parking is very minimal, which means that many of the seniors and guests will have to cross one of the busiest streets/intersections in San Clemente to park in shared parking across the street.
Quite frankly, the design is something one would see in Los Angeles or Long Beach, but not in our Spanish Village by the Sea. Yes, the state has put restrictions on cities, but is this really the best we can do?
Hopefully, our new city councilmembers will take the ethics course provided by the Fair Political Practices Commission, and the remaining city councilmembers will take the refresher course, so they understand the process and avoid the perception of conflict of interest and provide transparency.