In the recent article “,” San Clemente City Council candidate Mike Mortenson is quoted as saying that he’s “disgusted by the Watchdog PAC's efforts” and that “this PAC is trying to buy the election in favor of Charles Mann's special interest, whatever that is.”
Mr. Mann’s interest is neither a mystery nor cause for disgust – his interest is, in fact, the public interest. The reason that activists like Charles Mann have had to intervene is that council members like Jim Dahl have repeatedly voted for overdevelopment despite residents’ demands that proposed development comply with city standards.
Mann’s contributions include collection of over 8,500 signatures to qualify ballot Measure C, which enabled voters to reverse an ill-considered city council decision to pave over open space. Mr Mann’s ballot Measure V, by residents’ overwhelming approval, permanently protects San Clemente’s Open Space from abuse of discretion by elected officials.
San Clemente’s recent history of citizen activism has helped to ensure that residents receive the representation that local government is intended to provide.
What is Mr Mortenson’s opinion of residents’ activism regarding hot-button issues like sign pollution and overdevelopment? "It's petty, and it's silly."
Contrary to that perspective, residents have made it abundantly clear that preservation of San Clemente’s character is a top priority. San Clemente citizens are committed to ensuring that projects like the Ralph’s supermarket on El Camino Real are consistent with San Clemente’s human scale, rather than a developer’s vision of an immense L.A.-style monolith.
Mr. Mortenson’s assertion that residents “can't put forth their own ideas” seems an admission of unawareness that San Clemente activists are largely motivated by a single fundamental idea: Residents expect their elected officials to represent them.
Mr. Dahl’s repeated failure to live up to that expectation is part of the reason that San Clemente is home to the most reversed city council in California. A partial list of Mr Dahl’s accomplishments over the last few years:
Voted to approve overdevelopment at North Beach. Reversed by residents (Measure A).
Voted to allow overdevelopment in Shorecliffs. Reversed by residents (Measure I).
Voted for overdevelopment on designated Open Space. Reversed by residents (Measure C).
Voted to allow billboard-like signs for the Marblehead Outlet Mall. Overturned by Orange County Superior Court. Cost to residents: $250,000.
Taken together, Mr Dahl’s voting record and Mr Mortenson’s dismissive attitude toward residents’ interests make a strong case against them as council candidates. The $10,000 that Mortenson has accepted from a Los Angeles Real Estate PAC, and similar contributions received by Mr Dahl raise serious questions about who they serve.
San Clemente is fortunate to have a Watchdog PAC, and is even more fortunate to have two city council candidates who represent residents, not special interests. Those two candidates are #1 Bob Baker and Chris Hamm.
Editor's note: The incumbent Bob Baker to whom Boyer refers is one of two with the same name on the ballot; he's designated by a "1." Boyer is president of San Clemente Citizens for Integrity in Development, which successfully sued the city to overturn a sign exception permit for planned Marblehead Outlet Mall signs. He is also a member of the General Plan Advisory Committee for the city.