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LAURIE GOOCH, San Clemente

Quality of life is invaluable. Yet often sacrificed, compromised by the less valuable but more pressing practicalities of life. So, too, urban planning design when the highest and best use for the land envisioned in a General Plan falls victim to these same forces and rezoning results. 

Talega’s identity is backcountry residential. Rolling hills, hiking trails, and neighbor to The Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy, 1,200 acres of open space. Set in a larger context across from residential Forster Ranch and its open space. 

Within this residential context is the corner of Avenida Vista Hermosa and Avenida La Pata. A residential context with an identity crisis since 2009, when the city prepared a Forster Ranch Specific Plan Amendment and a General Plan Amendment for change in land-use designation from Residential Medium to Commercial on the northwest corner because a Target store, rather than a housing development, would generate more funds for the Vista Hermosa Sports Park and Aquatics Center. 

A pressing need to justify sacrificing the invaluable. But no matter how noble the need, the result is still less than the best. Anyone, everyone can choose the land-use option that generates the greatest revenue. Waiting for the option that maintains the invaluable and meets the need requires leadership and courage. 

Thank you, Mayor James, Councilmember Ferguson, and Councilmember Knoblock for listening to the residents. Thank you for keeping the options open on this appreciating land asset until the highest and best use, one that includes a nexus to the adjacent Vista Hermosa Sports Park and Aquatics Center, is identified.  

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