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SCSQUARED halfBy Joe Janis, Lisa Gaskin and Lauren Cramer, San Clemente

A few months ago, two citizen groups (“Protect Our Neighborhoods” and “Take Action

San Clemente”) walked San Clemente neighborhoods with a petition to ban short-term lodging units and sober living homes from residential zoned areas. The results were overwhelming, as 94 percent of those petitioned were adamantly against these businesses operating in our residential neighborhoods. The San Clemente City Council supported our city residents and passed ordinances to limit vacation rentals and sober living homes to areas of town that would be more compatible for them.

Now, the vacation rental owners and sober living operators are using other tactics to continue operating in our neighborhoods. A group called “The San Clemente Vacation Rental Alliance” has recently filed a lawsuit against the city of San Clemente and our City Council for passing these ordinances. The lawsuit states that the alliance “is an association composed of and supported by individuals devoted to preservation of the environment and Coastal Zone resources…” It also states “the group (among other things) was organized for the purpose of representing the interests of the public in assuring compliance with the state’s environmental and land use laws and the Coastal Act.” Believe it or not, that is their spin. They do not mention that they want to use our neighborhoods as doormats for their hotels and boarding houses. Many of their supporters do not even live in San Clemente.

This same group is also behind the push to re-district our City. You may have seen them at our local markets. The “Alliance” actually hired people to gather signatures to put redistricting on the November ballot. This group is well funded and well organized. Make no mistake about it, “The San Clemente Vacation Rental Alliance” does not represent the interests of San Clemente residents, but with special interest money they have a good chance of ousting the very councilmembers that have voted to keep our neighborhoods safe. They believe if they are successful in redistricting San Clemente they can get their people elected who will overturn the ordinances that have banned short-term lodging units and Sober Living Homes from our residential neighborhoods.

The San Clemente Vacation Rental Alliance is not a friend of “Our Spanish Village by the Sea.” They are profiteers that want to operate their commercial businesses in our residential neighborhoods, regardless of the effects they have on them. They continue to attack the four Council members who have voted to keep our neighborhoods safe and to preserve our way of life. Thanks again to Mayor Bob Baker, Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Ward, Councilman Chris Hamm and Councilman Tim Brown for standing up to this special interest group.

We believe residential neighborhoods are safe-havens for families to live and to raise children.  We cannot remain silent while groups like this try to change the very character of the neighborhoods in which we reside. Help us spread the word about this special interest group and their plans for San Clemente. For more information contact us at or at

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About The Author Staff

comments (33)

  • Thank you for your thoughtful and inciteful letter. You have discerned the ulterior motives of the SCVRA which is to benefit their own cause. The leaders have flatulent brains which spew dialogue to twist their ultimate goal which is not for the benefit of San Clemente residents. I support you in your efforts. You should be aware that there may be a connection to Lori Donchak.

  • I support the districting petition and I am neither “for” vacation rentals (definitely not for sober living homes in our neighborhoods) nor did I have any “ulterior motives” in circulating the petitions; I have never even heard of the “San Clemente Vacation Rental Alliance.” Yes, I live in San Clemente. And, I was not paid to circulate any petitions. Bottom line: I want equal representation for all areas of San Clemente, not just Southwest San Clemente where four of our five councilmembers currently live. I think that is what democracy is all about, equal representation for all. Is that wrong (I think not)? The overgeneralizations asserted in this article appear to be just that, baseless generalizations used to cast currently voiceless San Clemente citizens in a false light. It seems a leap to connect the filing of a lawsuit from an unknown group to the districting petition circulated by myself and other San Clemente citizens. Perhaps the simplest explanation is the correct one: folks from all over San Clemente want an equal say in City government and hey, maybe even a City councilmember in our own neighborhood. Call me naïve, but that seems a worthy cause.

    • @Dan, equality is something all of us want. However, static districting is does not yield that.

      In fact, static districting takes away our representation. It reduces the people we can vote in or out from 5 today to just 1 every four years. Worse, it would give smaller areas the same representation as larger ones without regard for the current number of registered voters. It is simply not equitable.

      The reality is that districting at the city level is much like what we have painfully observed with the school board. It reduces our representation from all trustee / council members to only one. That’s right just one person that is accountable to our vote which we can vote in or out every f-o-u-r years. Whereas today we vote people in or out every two years.

      Remember when the school board was doing stuff we didn’t want and we had some recalls? Have you noticed how that has not happened since districting was implemented?

      It is not because the school board started doing an awesome job overnight — it is because it is virtually impossible to do nowadays.

      Here’s an example of how static districting is not equitable using some made up numbers to illustrate this point. Let’s say that Talega has 5,000 registered voters and Forster Ranch has 2,500. But each has one representative. That is not equitable representation.

      Furthermore, let’s say that a sewage treatment plant development is underway behind where you live. Not a good aroma or good for property values. Most likely your one elected council member will be supportive. None of the others need / will be since they are not accountable to your vote, and surely do not want it in their neighborhoods either. This is a clear example of why districting is bad.

      The reality with static districitng is it diminishes our representation. It will pit neighborhoods against each other and create a very adversarial us versus them mindset citywide forever. It will make solving issues about “me first” instead of the “greater good” for San Clemente.

      Districting is a false narrative being employed by special interests for their own gain. It will lead to further exploitation of San Clemente. Like most of us, I do not want any more commercialization with added traffic and crime that come with it. If you want to learn more about me and what I am about click on my name above.

      Be aware that the special interests behind all of this are easily spotted. They show up with anecdotal data without context and when people point out holes in their reasoning such as I have, they then revert to trying to tear me down with personal attacks. So remember their names and steer clear of the angst they seek to create.

      In summary, districitng decimated our representation with the schools and it will do the same in San Clemente. If you simply follow who started this false narrative and who stands to gain from it, you will see it is about profiteering at the residents expense — nothing more.

      • Speaking as someone who has lived in Talega for 8 years and never seen a City Councilmember elected from Talega, 1 representative sounds a lot better than 0, which is what North Beach, Rancho San Clemente, Forester Ranch, and Talega have now. Zero representation is NOT equitable representation.

        And, the district lines have not been drawn yet. That will be done after the election by an appointed committee who will be drawing the district lines to ensure that each district has the same number of folks (or as close as can be possibly done).

        Finally, I am not a special interest. I am a citizen who decided to seek representation. Making an unsubstantiated generalization that those who support districting are special interests is baseless and divisive. Districting is a mechanism of government employed at virtually every level of government to ensure that all citizens are represented. The sole exceptions being our local San Clemente government and federal Senate. Guess what, four of our councilmembers live in Southwest San Clemente and both of our California Senators live in Northern California. I think we deserve better.

        • @Dan, glad you are not a special interest.

          Quick clarification. As mentioned above — right now you have 5 representatives whereas with districting you’d only have one. Only one that can be voted in every 4 years.

          Up until the prior election, there were council members from other areas. As for Talega there has only been one person who attempted it. He outspent the others by a large margin but did not take the time to personally connect with residents and lost.

          The lines have been drafted already. It does not matter as static districting is never equitable because the voter population is a moving target.

          • No district lines have been drafted. I invite you to take a look at the districting petition, which expressly states that the lines will be drafted by an appointed committee after the election and presented to the City Council for approval. I’ve seen you on a lot of the message boards and you appear to be a passionate surrogate for the current council majority. But I hope you will not allow yourself to make factual statements that are objectively untrue.

            From an earlier SC Times Article:

            “The ballot measure intends to create districts that encompass Talega, Rancho San Clemente, the southwest parts of the city, Forster Ranch, and North Beach and Marblehead Coastal. These districts would have to be drawn for equal population, created by a task force made up of representatives from each district, the city clerk and the city attorney.”


          • @Dan, sounds like you were not shown some of the bogus boundaries by the petitioners like others.

            The boundary illustration showed Talega, Rancho San Clemente, the southwest parts of the city, Forster Ranch, and North Beach and Marblehead Coastal as you cited below. They completed ignored Shorecliffs, areas adjacent to the hospital and Capo.

            All my statements are based on facts, logic, and firsthand experience of how disastrous districitng has been for our city already with the school system. Districting has ruined our school representation and will do the same with representation within the city.

        • Dan,

          In reading your concerns about no City Council members living in North Beach, Rancho San Clemente, Forrester Ranch and Talega, let me offer you a very simple explanation why. It’s because nobody from those communities ran and won a seat. Yes that’s it. Any citizen from any community can serve on Council need only run and win.

          I live in Rancho San Clemente one of the neighborhoods you mention without representation and have been delighted with the job Bob Baker, Tim Brown, Kathy Ward and Chris Ham have done. In fact I have held “meet the candidate” forums for them all and had a wonderful turnout and support from our community.

          A candidate’s place of residence is not found on the ballot so the notion neighborhoods can stack the Council is simply dishonest. The fact is, we’ve had Council members from every community in San Clemente and will continue to do so with the system we have now. At large elections allow each citizen to vote for five candidates as opposed to one. Now remind me again how we are better served having one choice versus five?

        • We elected a gentleman from Rancho San Clemente to the City Council. He helped get the Outlet Mall thru and at some point was working for the developer who built it.

          So we have had representation on the Council. Bravo!

        • I live in Rancho San Clemente and we elected a Councilmember. Can’t remember his name.

          I think he helped get the Outlet Mall built and ended up working for the Outlet Mall developer. He was good for the city, I liked him.

          I love shopping, thts wy I move here.

    • Nice try to connect the lawsuit on vacation rentals to your petition on districts. Then you can say it ‘seems a stretch’ to connect districts to vacation rentals. What is not a stretch is to connect your petition itself to vacation rentals. The reason this petition got filed is because the city council voted to limit vacation rentals in our city and protect our residents from these commercial uses.

      Now your group seeks to change the city’s charter on elections so you can eliminate the current city council. You can say whatever you want how you “believe” in voting districts, but that is another diversion to ‘not look behind the curtain’.

      Any resident from any street in this city can run for council right now. You yourself have taken our papers to run for city council and this isn’t even on the ballot. So why the need for districts?

      You say you are not for vacation rentals, but your picture has been in the paper with Jim Bieber, who has threatened the city council they would be out if they voted to protect our residents.

      I find it odd that you would be a partner to Jim Bieber in this petition effort and then state here you are not for vacation rentals. Really?

      You will find in this town that you have to tell the truth to get elected to office.

      • Hi Kathy,

        We have never met nor spoken before. Accordingly, you do not know me or what I stand for. In short, I say what I mean and mean what I say. I am neither for VRBO’s nor for sober living facilities. I am for equal representation. And yes, that is also why I am running for City Council. So that folks, like me, can have representation.

        Notably, you are a sitting member of the City Council. You should welcome this vote regarding districts, it provides the residents the opportunity to vote on an important issue. Instead, you voted along with three other City Council members to deny the residents of this City (whom you claim to represent) the opportunity to give their voice to the issue. Question my motivations all you wish. I do not expect to change your mind. And yes, Jim Bieber supported the petitioning effort as well. But imputing his motivations (whatever they may be) on me is merely a convenient way for you to avoid the issue of equal representation, yet again. So, I did your job for you. I walked districts and gathered signatures along with other residents so that this issue could be put on the ballot and the residents could decide. You missed an opportunity to show fairness and impartiality. You blew it.

        And now you have repeatedly spoken out against the districting initiative. As a sitting councilmember, you should know better. I will expect that you will be recusing yourself from the City Council hearing addressing the districting initiative on August 2nd. You are plainly biased and have prejudged this issue. Accordingly, I hope you will do the right thing and recuse yourself so that a fair, impartial discussion may be had.

        • @Dan,

          You keep stating that you want equal representation, which is a contradiction in terms, as you have yet to cite a single actual example of under-representation in the city.

          This is because we already have equal representation today.

          What makes this kind of rhetoric about districting so comical is that we have a single dedicated (not shared with Dana Point) San Clemente representative on the school board, who happens to live in Talega, and that has not done a single thing to improve the misuse / lack of accounting of Mello Roos.

          Just another example of how static districting is and will be an epic fail for our city.

          Here’s the bottom line. Doesn’t matter what you say, you are pro-districting which is all about enabling further exploitation of San Clemente. Given this is a residential community primarily. Residents do not want further commercialization, congestion and all the garbage that goes with it. This will hurt any good intentions you may have.

          • Enrique, I’m not sure how you make the inferential leap from districting to saying it is all about “further exploitation of San Clemente.” And, who said anything about wanting “commercialization, congestion and all of the garbage that goes with it.” You are against districting, and that’s find. But don’t pretend that anyone who is for districting is thus for “commercialization” and “congestion.” Make your points, but at least be intellectually honest about it. The districting measure is about representation for all in San Clemente; nothing more, nothing less. Your attempts to make districting an “us versus them” proposition is a little misguided.

            I’ve put myself out there and will make my points on the issues. My goal is to find common ground and engage all residents in the City to find common sense solutions to the challenges facing our City. Anyone who wants to know more about me and what I stand for, please look me up on Facebook at

          • I am so looking forward to your “supposed” views on representing San Clemente. You supported Mike Mortenson, another flop along with Jim Dahl, for City Council. You are a disguised, over-development pundit that has no consideration for the residents of San Clemente. Thank you Enrique for your well thought-out comments. Dan, when are you going to suggest jumbo-tron signs for the outlet mall? Because the residents know who are supporting you.

          • @Dan,

            It is clear you do not have a grasp of the people behind districting or the implications.

            I have been completely honest about this. Questing the integrity of constituents you are trying to court votes from. Not good either.

            As for your platitude about common ground. There isn’t one when it comes to enabling others to further exploit San Clemente.

            Furthermore, posting selective excerpts on your campaign does not speak to your goal of common ground. It is political posturing, not an attempt to provide full understanding in looking for common ground.

          • Jeri,

            I did support Mike Mortenson. Thought he would’ve been great for the City Council in 2012, think he would be great for the City Council now.

            Re the over-development and jumbo trons you speak of, those are the types of untruths that got your group in trouble in the 2012 election.


          • @Dan,

            I am not getting in the middle of you picking on this lady.

            Note that slinging someone else’s mud will further hurt your campaign. If you are so interested in groups do a deep dive on the people behind the districting and their motives. It will reveal how it is all about selfish profiteering.

            If you intend to truly make a difference you need to spend more time understanding what is really going on, the needs of all the residents needs, and less time reciting the rhetoric of the profiteers.

            Learning from Michael Mortensen, who outspent his competitors almost two-fold, you will see that connecting with the residents by understanding their needs, and showing up with solutions is the only way to gain their trust and vote.

          • @Dan,

            By the way, your website link on your facebook page does not work. It points to an unregistered domain.

            Also, you have deleted my comments on your campaign facebook page but left Jim Dahls?? Then turned off commenting. So it seems your messaging on transparency is nothing but lip service.

            Between you attacking people personally (me and now this lady above) and contradicting yourself, you are looking like a real hypocrite in the eyes of voters.

        • My comments to you were about your opinion on vacation rentals. That subject has been voted on.

          As you know, the issue of your initiative is on the council’s agenda this Tuesday. I will look at this issue as I would any other that will have an effect on our city — I will have an open mind, study the issue and do my research as I promised the people of San Clemente. It is with that, public input, and council discussion that I will make then make a decision.

  • Interesting article published in “Voice of OC” today about the districting petition. Can be found as follows:

    • @Dan, I read this earlier this morinng. This is not an article. It is a puff piece where they are taking queues from the special interests behind districitng instead of doing the necessary research and providing a balanced perspective. Find it interesting that they have super clean copies of the artwork from the special interests shown in their article.

      Sadly, in the era of the internet, everyone is a pundit / journalist and nothing is vetted for accuracy any longer as was demonstrated in this so called article.

      • For those who are not aware of the Voice of OC sham here is what KABC-AM conservative talk radio show host John Phillips stated…

        “Voice of OC gets nearly all its funding from OCEA and other Democratic interest groups ….it is important to note that the Voice of OC is not a newspaper nor is it a magazine. The fact is that that the Voice of OC is merely website whereby they describe themselves as a “Non-Profit Investigative News Agency.”

        Visit this link for the full article –

      • Here is “who’s behind” the Voice of OC . Yeah ‘anyone’ can start a news site – You are a nobody who says lots of lies – here is who published the story on our council –

        Voice of OC is a non-profit investigative news agency focusing on politics and government in Orange County, California.[1]

        Since its launch in 2010, Voice of OC has published over 3,000 articles and dozens of videos about public policy issues ranging from alleged abuses of power to wasteful government spending.

        The news agency’s reporting on a property swap involving Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido prompted an investigation by the city attorney into the issue.[2] The mayor voted for a $1.4-million city contract with an auto parts firm, NAPA Orange County, just over a year after he bought a home from the firm’s owner for $230,000 less than fair market value.[3]

        Board members[edit]
        Wylie Aitken, Orange County-based trial attorney who is past president of the California Trial Lawyers Association and member of the California Arts Council
        Sen. Joe Dunn (Ret.), executive director of the State Bar of California, represented Orange County in the California Senate from 1998 to 2006
        Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law
        Henry Weinstein, professor at UCI law school, former legal affairs reporter with the Los Angeles Times
        Daniel Weintraub, senior editorial writer with the Sacramento Bee, former Capitol correspondent with the LA Times and OC Register

        • The Truth doesn’t have the integrity to use a real name. Just another drive-by comment by cowards. The information provided by “The Truth” is more like an indictment anyway.

          As pointed out before the Voice of OC is NOT a news organization. It is a collection of individuals with an agenda, whereas a true news organization has integrity. True news organizations attempt to share facts with context from all perspectives. No attempt was made here by Voice of OC.

          The Voice of OC is not interested in news, they have an agenda. Just more uninformed outsiders trying to change our town for the benefit of the profiteers looking to exploit our town.

        • The Truth —–> Not the least bit impressed by the names; all dirtbag wackos.

  • Allow me to provide some context to the first time reader about what’s going on here. This article is political propaganda planned and executed by Charles Mann and Wayne Eggleston, in conjunction with Bob Baker. There will be many, many more. Who are these people? Well, Charles Mann is Baker’s, Hamm’s, and Ward’s primary campaign funding source (note: Tim Brown denies he received any funding from Mann.) Jeri Mann is his wife, and figurehead for whatever Political Action Committee (PAC) they set up this time.

    Why are they doing this? They want to convince everyone that there’s a connection between VRBO’s ad Sober Living Homes to distract everyone from that fact that for FOUR YEARS Baker, Hamm, and Ward turned a blind eye to the explosion of Sober Living Homes. They literally let the wolves into our small-town henhouse. But their ultimate goal is to convince people that if you’re for the districting initiative, you’re for VRBOs and Sober Living Homes. I’m for districting because I believe it accountability. Don’t believe it–these aren’t mutually exclusive.

    But truth isn’t a concern, nor is it expedient. Lying, deceiving and dividing is how Baker/Hamm/Ward secured their majority. And that’s not putting resident’s first–it’s putting themselves first. This is really why the oppose districting. Putting residents first means finding a way to add police officers to our force, not fire them; it means trying to regulate Sober Living Homes — not letting them explode in our town and ignore the paper regulations. And it means running honest elections, based on ideas and vision — not lies and distortions.

    Don’t believe me? Read this: it’s an article about Jeri Mann (first commenter), her husband, Wayne Eggleston’s best friend, and Baker/Hamm/Ward’s primary funding source who spent $15,000+ to send out a mailer to SC residents that lied about our Chamber of Commerce and two other residents:

    To save you the click: “On behalf of Watchdog for San Clemente Responsible Government [….] Jeri Mann, Better Presenter LLC, Janice Smith, Pacific Corporate Consultants Inc. and myself, I hereby acknowledge that statements regarding the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce in two political advertisements that Watchdog distributed are false.”

    Some “Watchdog.” Do your research people. Don’t believe the false statements and propaganda. Figure out who these people are, what their motives are, and how they’re connected. And let their be no doubt, they’re all connected.


    • MM-

      As you have never responded to my requests for actual proof for your allegations, I will have to take to other forums to continue to defend and correct the record you seem so bent on distorting.

      First of all, I have never stated anywhere that I have never received funding from Charles Mann, but that his donations comprise a very small part of the my campaign funding – the vast majority coming from friends, family and residents who believed in my public service. Don’t put words in my mouth, and while you are at it, provide some proof to your conspiratorial claims that you love to present as fact.

      Second, you love to diminish and attack the honest complaints of those who have struggled with the impacts of VRBO’s in our neighborhood – I wish you had channeled this same energy into actually addressing the issues. Since you ran for Council 4 years ago, you have showed up to exactly 1 Council meeting during public comments to defend VRBO’s and have never communicated any other thoughts to the Council on any other City matter, most notably, nothing on how to address Sober Living Homes. For someone so passionate about what San Clemente needs to do, you seem to have done very little yourself on these issues other than attack other residents who have been negatively impacted. Perhaps you had all of the answers, but you certainly did not see it fit to share with the City in any way.

      Third, you have really picked the wrong strategy if you are going to pursue the laughable allegation that this Council has “turned a blind eye” to Sober Living Homes. Over the last 3 years we have been assisting other cities in their ligation efforts, established moratoriums against new homes, stepped up enforcement efforts, litigated against dozens of SLH’s ourselves and then finally drafting a comprehensive ordinance that allows us to regulate the SLH’s to ultimate control their placement and intensity. San Clemente has been on the cutting edge of this issue, which is why San Juan has recently decided to copy our efforts on this issue:
      Ironically, the only time I have seen you show up to Council Meeting in the past 4 years was to argue against this self same ordinance to regulate VRBO’s and Sober Living Homes.

      There is plenty this Council could improve upon and things you could fairly criticize, we certainly haven’t been perfect. However, I do take exception to your unfair and dishonest attacks regarding our efforts on Sober Living Homes – frankly, I don’t see how we could have worked any harder or done anymore to address that issue.

  • @Michael,

    “Do your research people. Don’t believe the false statements and propaganda. Figure out who these people are, what their motives are, and how they’re connected. And let there be no doubt, they’re all connected.”

    Speaking of connected…this is how you are connected with the bully who started the districting false narrative –


    This is not context. This is a compilation of accusations with no supporting data. The article cited does not support these allegations. It is just this Mr. Mortensens rationalization for losing and some lingering angst towards someone who ran ads on his own against him.

    It is an election season riddled with falsehoods by sham organizations like the Voice of OC that was mentioned earlier. Look for the link above to for the context on that.

    Mr. Mortensen outspent his peers by a factor of two I believe and it did not help. Our town is about relationships and candidates that do not connect with residents end up losing. This person just needs to get over losing already and learn from it. Voters will decide.

    Districting is nothing more than an invented narrative by a professional political bully. This bully wants to continue to exploit San Clemente, like those that have joined behind him, for his own personal gain.

    Here’s the bully –

    Here’s a statement of a lifelong resident that is sticking up for us –

    The bottom line is that districting will have two sides. Those people who truly love San Clemente and their opponents who want to invent issues to justify changes so they can profit from adding commercialization to further exploit our town.

  • Mr. Mortenson – you are correct. Watchdog did not fact check and we apologized. One thing you don’t mention is the payback – Watchdog does not receive any kickbacks . We are self-funding to support the community that we love. I challenge you to find any kickbacks that we receive. Bob Baker only accepts campaign contributions of $99 or less. How about your contributions, Mr. Mortenson. Why were they so large? I am sure it was because of your love of the community and not wanting to pave over San Clemente (i.e., jumbo tron signs – oh by the way, Steve Craig lost the lawsuit and had to pay the court fees).

    • I think Mike Mortinson and Jim Dahl both had really cool signs on the fence by the Outlet Mall in the last election. Wonder if Dahl is going to run again…I hope he does.

  • I’m hoping Dan Bane and Mike Mortenson run as a team. They have similar views.

    • It would be best if Talega offered up a candidate that took the time to understand the needs of the entire city, instead of showing up with their new agenda. Otherwise, they’ll just fail again.

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