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Chris Aitken

By Chris Aitken

Have you noticed anything different in our downtown area? 

The recent closures have been difficult for downtown businesses, and the San Clemente Downtown Business Association (SCDBA) has been focused during the pandemic to find creative ways to assist our local businesses. 

Among these efforts, the SCDBA has effectively partnered with the city of San Clemente to bring open-air dining downtown to allow our restaurants to safely come outdoors, as they are presently prohibited per state guidelines to serve indoors. 

This measure has been met with overwhelming support from the restaurant sector (and its employees) but, equally important, by the residents of San Clemente.

The goal is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our residents to enjoy their favorite restaurants not only downtown but also citywide, through the allowance of restaurants to also expand in their respective parking lots.

With the initial success of open-air dining, otherwise known as “Open San Clemente,” the SCDBA is also looking at opportunities to support its retail sector.

The goal is not only to allow its retail establishments, for instance, to expand their footprint outdoors (consistent with state guidelines) but also make our downtown experiential for the benefit of all businesses. 

Another new concept in development is “The Promenade on Del Mar,” which will be a Sunday Street closure on Avenida Del Mar that was near completion prior to the most recent pullback. This concept is near its final development stages, and the intent is to implement this concept as soon as it is safe to do so, consistent with COVID-19 guidelines of the state.

For the most recent updates on Open San Clementeand The Promenade on Del Mar, we welcome our community to visit us at or email us at For retail or restaurant businesses that wish to participate in either concept, we are happy to provide the information and forms needed to assist your business.

While Open San Clemente and The Promenade On Del Mar have been well-received by the business community, and our residents, it does require the city to allow some parking spots to be taken on Avenida Del Mar. 

However, it is important to know that while approximately 40 spots will be taken downtown to allow the restaurants to operate, the closure of the library has given an additional 90 parking spots to our downtown area. 

The SCDBA and the city are mindful of resident concerns, and the support of the experiential open-air dining on Del Mar has been appreciated. 

San Clemente, this is a time of historic change, and we at the SCDBA are embracing this change and offering new experiences, using creativity to address the economic challenges our businesses face. 

We want to hear from you at the SCDBA, and we appreciate your support during this challenging time. If you would like to get the most updated information on these concepts, or you just love your downtown, please consider joining the SCDBA or by making a donation.

The SCDBA is a nonprofit committed to the beautification of your downtown and the support of the San Clemente business community.  Thank you again for your support.

Chris Aitken is the Chairman of the Board of the San Clemente Downtown Business Association. Chris is also involved with two businesses in the downtown area, including being the co-owner of H.H. Cotton’s restaurant and a partner of the personal injury law firm Aitken Aitken Cohn.  

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