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OPINION: Dahl, Mortenson would Stop Three-Story Ban that Hurts Business

The head of the San Clemente Commercial Property Owners Association wants the downtown to be not only charming, but profitable.

The following is an endorsement by the head of the Commercial Property Owners Association of San Clemente Jim Eckel.

San Clemente needs City Council Members who possess the aptitude, experience, and conviction to help lead it into the future. A very important area of our City is our charming Downtown!

As a property owner and former Downtown business owner, I can tell you that maintaining our Downtown charm is a top priority of both business and property owners.

As a resident of twenty years, I can assure you there were times when our Downtown may have appeared charming, but it was definitely not profitable for business or property owners. As with any Downtown area there has been and will always be turnover, which can be a healthy exercise in regeneration.

However, it was not that long ago that the word “charming” was not your first thought when describing Downtown. For most of the nineties, our Downtown barely limped along and business turnover was very high. Fortunately, in recent years, beginning with Dave Donaldson's Beachfire Grill Restaurant, the Downtown has thrived with the additions of Nick’s, The Shore, Mimosa’s, and South of Nick’s.

However, there are challenges ahead for the economic viability of Downtown in the form of increased retail competition from the future Marblehead Outlet Mall. We need to encourage sensible business development for Downtown by resisting heavy handed measures such as building height restrictions that would halt our upward momentum and sabotage our chances for sustained growth.

Mike Mortenson and Jim Dahl are two City Council candidates who have been endorsed by the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, the San Clemente Downtown Business Association, and the Orange County Register for one important reason; they understand that business is an important part to maintaining our Downtown vitality. From bartenders to board shapers, San
Clemente runs on business! A City Council comprised of individuals who are aware of this reality is essential for a strong, fiscally responsible city.

Mike and Jim will have my vote this coming November 6th and for the future sake of our much-loved Downtown, I'm asking you to do the same.

Kathleen Ward October 23, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Will someone please tell me how the words 'development' and business' get lumped together? None of the businesses that you mentioned involved 3-story buildings, but did indeed involve picking a good location, a business plan, and some remodeling of the building. In the case of Nick's, it also involved the city waiving parking requirements for that building. I would like to point out that if developers were allowed to redo some of these buildings and build 3 stories, those 'businesses' trying to make it economically, would find their rents much higher to pay for that pretty new building. It's a fact that has happened to business owners time and time again. It will happen that no one can afford to have a business on Del Mar because development has priced them out. All that will be left is restaurants and bars. That will be our downtown.
Mr Salty October 23, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Roll up your pants legs, it's too late to save your shoes........
PK October 23, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Jim Dahl will NOT have my support this time around. It seems to me that he wants to see San Clemente become another Irvine. Sorry but I just can't support developers and their puppets. The key here is QUALITY, not QUANTITY!
Al Wehrle October 23, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Right on. Another good reason to choose # 1 Baker and Hamm, not the developer's puppets Dahl and Mortensen.
Moonshine October 23, 2012 at 07:05 PM
PK- The only puppets in this election are Baker and Hamm. And they have not one, but two master puppeteers holding the strings! Ones a developer with DEEEEEEEP Pockets funding much of their campaigns, the other is one of the worst, most corrupt, former councilmen San Clemente has ever had. Maybe that Campaign consultant that Baker has blown 20K on in Torrance, should have told him to cut his ties with that crooked duo, I could have told him that for free!
Speaking of Spokes October 23, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Solely for the purpose deepening this discussion to focus on what I believe is the core issue underlying the height controversy in our downtown, please take the time to read my opinion piece, "Size Matters in the Building Debate, But Not the Way You Think:" http://sanclemente.patch.com/blog_posts/size-matters-but-not-the-way-you-think-a149776c
Al Wehrle October 23, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Simply too much moonshine....
Dan Bane October 23, 2012 at 10:57 PM
We're not talking about "developers" here. Most of the buildings downtown are owned by SC residents and business owners. The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, and now the San Clemente Commercial Property Owner's Assocation have all come out in support of Mortenson and Dahl. That's the three business and commercial property owners groups in San Clemente. These are smart and experienced business and property owners. They are supporting Mortenson and Dahl for one simple reason - they have shown the aptitude and vision needed to allow local businesses to thrive and therefore San Clemente to thrive. What Hamm (Baker seemed to be ok with three stories during the debates) does not seem to understand is that businesses and property owners need a consistent and flexible approach. The current CUP process provides that. The CUP requirements are strict, which is why few three story projects have been proposed. However, for long term planning, the draconian three story ban is simply bad public policy and is a knee-jerk reaction to the Olen property. Mike and Jim understand this and have stated their position (repeatedly) that, while they don't want Del Mar to be canyonized (which it won't be), business and property owners deserve and need the consistent and case-by-case approach afforded by the current CUP process. I believe the business and property owners supporting Jim and Mike know what is best for them.
Kathleen Ward October 24, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Dan Bane, all this endorsement talked about is a protection against a three-story ban. The endorsement for Dahl or Mortenson said we needed the 'upward momentum' for BUSINESS. This is a myth when people say "We HAVE to grow". Yes, we need to promote business, but I say something isn't right when we keep saying we need to help business when you are really saying development. Let's get it straight what the priority is here. We either grow business or we grow buildings. The two are not the same, and they won't mean the same to residents.
Dan Bane October 24, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Is it really contrived or are people simply supporting their preferred candidates like you are trying to do with Baker/Hamm?
Dan Bane October 24, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I think the endorsement talked about exactly what I said above. That we need to maintain flexibility downtown for the property and business owners. The CUP process and system has been in place since the last general plan update almost 20 years ago. I don't see glut of three story buildings proposed. And no one is saying "We HAVE to grow." People are recognizing that we HAVE grown and that we will likely continue growing. Land use is all about flexibility. We need to maintain it; especially where a particular process has been in the books for decades and property/business owners have relied on it. I believe the blanket three story ban is a myopic approach and is horrible public policy. But to be clear, I have never heard Mortenson or Dahl say that we HAVE to grow or even that they want a ton of three story buildings downtown (I don't want that either).
Kathleen Ward October 24, 2012 at 02:44 PM
It is attempting to come up with reasons to endorse them that it is contrived. Just saying someone is more flexible is contrived. Bob Baker goes by law and property rights. I've seen him rule over the planning commission in favor of personal property rights. If someone had the right to do three stories because they meet all the requirements, he's going to look at it in the same way any of the candidates are. It is ridiculous to say that Chris Hamm or Bob Baker would have a preconceived idea of a project before it comes before them. As a council memeber for 4 years, he has never done that. Check some of the endorsements, those say we have to grow and we can't limit development. There are those out there that say we have to grow or we'll die. Sorry, that statement is not true if it means the buildings have to be bigger and better to be something.
Moonshine October 24, 2012 at 03:12 PM
At least Mortenson's endorsements are honest and authentic. I know of at least one prominent SC family pictured on Bakers website, who was also on his mailers, that does NOT endorse him. In fact, not only have they asked Baker to remove his family's picture and name from his "supporters" list, as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, this same person VOTED TO ENDORSE MORTENSON and DAHL. Just another lie from the Baker/Hamm/Eggy camp. Mortenson has SEVEN former/current council members endorsing him, to Baker's 2, Mortenson has banners on downtown businesses that support him as well as the Chamber, DBA, OCRegister, OCGOP and many more. I'm not going to argue with commenters saying these are "contrived" I just hope readers do their research and see for themselves just how many local people and businesses are behind Mike Mortenson. www.mikemortenson.com
Bill Hart October 27, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Moonshine you forgot about the three or four attempts to list various fictitious versions of the Tea Party on BB1's web site. But this is a hopeless discussion. None of the Bob BAker supporters here are business people. In fact they would rather vilify anyone who pursues profit rather than try to understand how enlightened self interest led to improvement in our downtown. It doesn't matter that the merchants and small businesses are mostly owned by locals. They must be punished!
Kathleen Ward October 27, 2012 at 09:56 PM
I rather like profit.

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