SCSQUARED halfBy Eric Heinz

Despite last month’s approval from the California Coastal Commission and its allowance for San Clemente to resubmit a proposal for a parking lot in the North Beach area, City Council decided not to move forward in submitting a citizen design for the lot.

The proposed public parking lot to be built at 1832 El Camino Real in North Beach was brought up by community members during the public comments portion of Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Ricardo Nicol, Tom and Vonne Barnes and landscape architect Richard Price had submitted the proposal a few week ago and have been working through the bureaucracy to get the project approved for some time.

Council members said this issue is not officially rejected, but it will take about another year before anything would be able to be submitted to the commission because of the project’s proximity to the coastline.

Council members said because they could not agree on the project unanimously, they did not feel comfortable moving forward with the citizens’ proposal.

“(The commission) gave the city a unique opportunity that if they city gave (approval) they would consider the plan presented at the hearing by San Clemente and resubmit it as the city’s plan,” Nicol said. “This project has been in the works for over two years. Tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent on this. I think you’ve (the council) wasted the public’s time and resources.”

Mayor Chris Hamm said he would like to look at a different design if the funds are available in the future, but he said he would like to explore if this is the best way to spend the beach parking funds.

“This is a poster child of how hard it is to spend those (beach parking) funds,” Councilwoman Lori Donchak said. “It’s very frustrating. I’m looking for this beach parking funding to become available, and they can only be used for those funds. This is case in point about trying to get beach parking in this community.”

Because the council decided not to fund the design, it will have to come back to it at a later date, most likely next year at the earliest, in order to submit a proposal. Should the council vote to keep it as a parking lot, it must be funded by the money in the respective fund, collected over the years from a special property tax. The California Coastal Commission gave the city the option to withdraw the application and submit a new application for an alternative proposal.

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