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Last updated 10:50 a.m.

From left to right, Dan Bane stands next to  boxes  containing more than 5,100 signatures  of San Clemente residents, which were collected for a petition to make election districts a ballot measure residents, as City Clerk Joanne Baade instructs him and Jim Bieber of the next steps in the petition process. The petition was filed Wednesday at San Clemente City Hall. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz

Click Here to Read City Clerk’s Authorization

On Wednesday, a group of San Clemente residents filed a petition for a ballot measure with the city to ask voters if they want the City Council to be elected by district, starting in 2018. The group filing the petition is called San Clemente Residents for Reform.

The ballot measure would make specific districts for each City Council representative in various areas of San Clemente.

Eva O’Keefe, who has been outspoken about rising crime rates and vagrancy in San Clemente, was one of the first to sign the petition. O’Keefe said she signed because she believes representation should be more spread out around the city.

O’Keefe said districts would take money out elections because it is “easier to raise money for a smaller area.” She said it costs about $50,000 to campaign for at-large seats rather than $10,000 in smaller district areas.

“(This) brings more accountability and access to your representative,” O’Keefe said, emphasizing the areas of Talega and Forster Ranch.

Currently, four of the five current City Council members live within a few blocks or so from each other in the southwest part of the city.

Jim Bieber, who has traded barbs with City Council since last December when short-term living units became a heated topic, said the current model of at-large voting hasn’t worked because the representation comes primarily from one section of the city.

“We have confidence that people in every area of (the city) will elect somebody who is sharp and accountable,” Bieber said.

When asked if this would divide the city more than unify its residents, Bieber said there are areas that are unable to put forth a formidable candidate from their area. Districts would allow for residents in all neighborhoods of San Clemente to have representation.

Bieber lives within the area where four Council members live near each other in San Clemente.

“I think everybody should have the opportunity to have a Council member in their neighborhood,” Bieber said.

Bieber said the group had about 25 volunteers working on gathering signatures for the petition.

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.

The city will have to examine the petition signatures to determine whether the number of signatures collected is legitimate before the ballot measure is qualified. Proponents of the measure will be notified and public information will be disbursed if it is qualified.

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comments (2)

  • Here is some added perspective and context to the main points that the special interests behind districting have brought up as their justification for districting.

    If we want to truly fix the issues being mentioned causality cannot be ignored as is suggested. The issues relating to sober-living, homelessness, and crime will not be fixed by ignoring the root causes as the special interest involved would have you think.

    The special interests behind districting are not providing real answers and offer no strategy. Instead, they are trying to create angst towards local leaders about statewide issues.

    They expect the readers to make the assumption that adding more emergency responders, for instance, is the same as crime prevention measures — they are not one in the same. They also offer no solutions to sober-living or homeless issues and instead just seek to blame local leaders again for statewide issues.

    Here’s the bottom line. 40% of the city’s budget is already spent paying for emergency responders. The city just voted to add a few more emergency responders. The only non-required services are beaches and parks. San Clementians will not close the beaches and parks to pay for this. The only way to pay for the 29 added emergency responders that these people are suggesting is by introducing a local tax of some kind. It would be unfair to pass that onto property owners and existing laws in place would inhibit that. The alternative may be a local consumption tax that we would all have to vote on and San Clementians would most likely not pass it either.

    What would be helpful is if someone showed up with a plan to address the sustained costs for the things they propose, that are actually financially viable that are supported by facts instead of conjecture.

    Relating to crime – the reality is that the voters got duped into voting for The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act (aka Prop 47). The deceptive name tricked people with low voting acumen to vote for it. We really need to embrace living in the post-Prop 47 era. While the voters may have been deceived into voting for it the Feds are looking to require it anyway.

    Meanwhile, Prop 47 is being exploited by career criminals. The officers are now limited to only issuing citations where they could have previously arrested people. This allows the same person to trigger other calls the same day. This has created a catch and release environment which has the officers spinning their wheels because of the proverbial revolving door on the jail / prison system that we have Prop 47 to thank for.

    This is why we need to focus more on Crime Prevention and not only on adding more emergency responders. We simply need to modernize our methods for the post-Prop 47 era.

    Many people want to simply reverse Prop 47. This will be a hard battle to win given that it is in keeping with Federal mandate strategies which nullify any influence voters have over state or local government. If you would like to learn more about fighting Prop 47 this here is a link to a grassroots effort underway –

    Mental Health – some of the problems are that people being released from prison have some significant mental health issues. The prison and any other criminal rehabilitation programs need to be scrutinized for effectiveness. Statistically, 1 in 5 adults will have a mental health issue in their lifetime. I question whether these rehabilitation programs have the caliber of Physiatrists needed to effect any lasting change. If it is anything like the public defenders office we are doomed. Have a look at where dollars are being spent in California Prisons. It does not give the impression that rehabilitation is a priority. A significant number of the homeless suffer from mental illness too.

    Sober Living – our state representatives have done their best but have been unable to get peers from other districts to support measures they have proposed. Sadly because of districting we cannot vote out the turkeys from other districts that would not help get sober-living issues addressed at the state level. Fortunately, the city has been very supportive of residents and has been at the forefront of doing all they can within the law. San Clemente is pursuing measures to require sober living to now be hospital-adjacent which will be very cost prohibitive. Here’s a link to a prior article the San Clemente Times published about this –

    Prop 47’s name was misleading pretty much like the districting petitions false narrative going around town right now. The special interests behind districting are seeking to trick people into signing. They will claim an x-files like conspiracy is going on. They do this to deflect. This enables them to trick potential signers by preying on fears. The special interests strategy is to court low acumen voters into blindly signing.

    The special interests behind this seek to further commercialize San Clemente for their own personal gain. It was initiated by one disgruntled VRBO owner and others which stand to gain from it financially or politically have jumped on the bandwagon. Here is a link to the video going around where you can hear directly from the originator of the districting false narrative – He is also featured in the photo in this article.

    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.

    Static districting is also not equitable. Here is an example 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.

    Pettitioner misconduct – Beware that the petitioners that approached me failed to produce a business license showing who is employing the paid petitioners. Others have observed that the petitioners were also filling in the petition forms for people which is not allowed. Any information about misconduct concerns needs to be sent to the

    Rescinding petition signatures – Because of the false representations made about the implications of districting many expressed an interest in rescinding their signatures. For anybody that was misled by the petitioners, you can always rescind your signature by notifying the City Clerk. Send them a letter giving your full name, address and stating that you request to rescind your signature to Fax (949) 361-8309 or

    This article talks about how our peers in Santa Monica did this for a deceptive aviation related petition –

    In summary, complex issues will never be resolved unless we deal with the root cause. I am just a resident, like you, who is doing my part to add common sense, clarity, and context. I do this because I love San Clemente and want to avoid people from exploiting it further. 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.

  • Fred Swegles brought up a good point when he wrote: “Voters would only vote once every four years for the seat that represents where they live. They would have no say on who fills the other four council seats.” Is that what we really want?

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