A controversy is unfolding in San Clemente that could become as big as North Beach, Ralph’s, and Marblehead signage. I hope our City leaders listen to the people this time.
The dispute centers on the historic heart of San Clemente, Avenida Del Mar. At question is whether we should allow the predominately one-story street scene to be replaced with far more intensive new development comprised of three-story buildings.
In preparation for the State required rewrite of our General Plan, city officials commissioned a consultant to conduct a study to find out what residents wanted for our City. After an enormous outreach to the community to collect opinions, “Vision San Clemente 2009,” was produced.
Eighty-six percent of residents responded that their “highest priority” was to preserve the “unique village character” of San Clemente. Almost 100 percent wanted to preserve the “small-town atmosphere and unique village character” of San Clemente.
Our City Council appointed a volunteer citizen committee to advise and oversee the writing of the new General Plan. That committee has been painstakingly drafting the concepts and wording of each part of that plan for the past 25 months.
Last month they tackled the Land Use section of the plan. The committee voted to incorporate language into the General Plan that would allow one or two stories on Avenida Del Mar, but not three stories.
The concept of limiting building height on Avenida Del Mar was discussed at the March 7 and March 21 Planning Commission Meetings.
But it was decided that the subject was too complicated and it would be better to defer a vote on the subject until a meeting or workshop devoted to just that subject could be held. Four of the six Commissioners present indicated that they leaned toward allowing three stories.
The Vision San Clemente 2009 survey indicated that the one story look of Avenida Del Mar was an important part of the “village character” that exists there. I surveyed the 100 and 200 blocks of Avenida Del Mar, and found there are 54 commercial properties.
Two lots are vacant.
Of the 52 commercial buildings, 33 are one-story, 16 are two-story, and only three are three-story. That calculates to 63 percent of the commercial buildings on Del Mar are one story! Ninety-four percent are either one or two stories. Less
than 6 percent of the buildings are three stories.
How can anyone possibly reason that replacing any of the 49 one and two story commercial buildings on Avenida Del Mar with a three story behemoth will enhance or preserve our “small town atmosphere and unique village character?"
We must convince our Planning Commission and City Council to not allow a three story takeover of Avenida Del Mar.