Potential North Beach Park Needs Timetable and Details

A resolution already on the books outlines the legal basis for a park as a land use for city property at North Beach. Now it's time to hash out the details.

In the aftermath of the Measure A decision, I am frequently asked how we are going to get the City Council to support the Ole Hanson Beach Park idea for North Beach.

The answer is simple—a previous council already has.  

was unanimously passed by an earlier city council, that called for using the triangle site taken by eminent domain for “off-street parking, [a] public park and public use.”

It is time to implement this decision that has been derailed for 41 years. To paraphrase British Prime Minister William Gladstone, “a park delayed is a park denied.”

Furthermore, Resolution 94-55 also supports the park plan because it calls for the El Camino Real (ECR) lots that were taken by eminent domain from Ernesto’s Restaurant to be used for parking. This is exactly what is in the plan drawn up by for the Ole Hanson Beach Park.  Carrying out Resolution 94-55 for parking at North Beach.

Neither of these resolutions has ever been rescinded by the city council, so the council is on record of supporting the park at North Beach with additional parking on the ECR lots. It is just the details of what the park will look like and the timetable for its implementation that have to be worked out.

The Ole Hanson Beach Park concept has three essential components.  

First, the existing southwest lawn of the Ole Hanson Beach Club will be extended into the flat area of the triangle replacing 29 parking spaces with a park. All of the existing historical coral trees and signature palms will be saved and new trees will be planted as needed. The area of the park to be added to the existing 12,800 sq. ft. of lawn is 16,400 sq. ft. making the total park area 29,200 sq. ft.  

Basic features of the park should include benches, picnic tables, walkways, a statue of Ole Hanson, and artistic tiles. Other features can be added to the park like a fountain or gazebo.  It will be up to the community to decide just what they want in the park.  

Second, the El Camino Real (ECR) lots between  and will be converted into beach parking. Approximately 45 parking spaces will be built on these lots replacing the 29 spaces that will become the park for a net gain of 16 parking spaces in the North Beach Parking lot. A bonus is that the grade can be lowered for this parking lot by 1 ½ to 2 feet that will enable the view from driving on El Camino Real to remain unimpaired.

There will be no need to alter any of the other parking areas in North Beach. The Pacific Coast Bike Route will not become a safety hazard due to perpendicular parking on Calle Descheca and Metrolink riders will not be forced to park north of El Camino Real.

Third, a beach park café will be constructed on the slope between Estacion and the Ole Hanson Beach Club. The café will not take any parking spaces from Estacion and will be limited to approximately an 800 sq. ft. single story building with a 170 sq. ft. outside patio. The building will also include a roof top patio.

The city will own the building and a concessionaire will run the café with a profit sharing arrangement that will yield more than enough revenue to pay for the park maintenance. Both the park and trail users will be the primary patrons of the café which should draw enough customers to be open year-around.

These are the fundamentals of the Ole Hanson Beach Park, but as we all know, the devil can be in the details.  Configuration of the park, tile work, a water feature, other monuments, whether the park will have its own restroom, and a myriad of other details will have to be worked out.

But discussion over the details should not derail the plan. The basic concept of the park holds true regardless of differences over the details.

Fundamentally, the park, parking, and café are simple, straightforward plans. These three features will increase access to the beach area as well as public use of coastal resources. This is precisely the kind of plan that the California Coastal Commission will readily approve.

The entire project would be built in three phases.  First, the vacant ECR lots will be converted into a parking lot.  Second, park hardscape and landscape will be installed. And finally, the café will be constructed.

Doing the construction in three phases will minimize the negative impact on the North Beach parking lot. 

The clock is ticking on the results of Measure A.

It will only hold for one year, and then developers can come back with other plans for commercial buildings on publicly owned land at North Beach. Twenty-three days have already passed since the March 8th decision. It is time to get moving on the park.

As Langston Hughes has written, "What happens to a dream deferred?/Does it dry up/Like a raisin in the sun?"

A park at North Beach is a dream that will not be deferred and dry up. The time for it is now not some distant future.

Those who support the Ole Hanson Beach Park idea need to make their views known to the San Clemente decision makers (e.g. Planning Commission, City Staff, GPAC, City Council) if they want the park to become a reality.

For more information about the park idea for North Beach go to OleHansonBeachPark.com

Sam La Sala March 31, 2011 at 05:17 PM
The decision of the City Council to remand the disposition of the Ole Hanson Beach Park to GPAC could have the effect of relegating it to some kind of planning limbo unless park supporters show up at the GPAC meeting to strongly advocate for the park.
Pete van Nuys March 31, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Despite the annoying toot-TOOTs from passing trains-- soon to be mitigated by our Quiet Zone, I hope-- this plan just begs for provision for sound and lighting for outdoor performances. We don't have festival grounds or an amphitheater and the sloping land at Hanson Historic Beach Park provides fertile ground (sorry...) for such, enhancing North Beach future status as our own performing arts center.
Carol Scott March 31, 2011 at 05:41 PM
General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) The next meeting dates for the GPAC will be held on Wednesday, April 13th at 6pm on the second floor of the Community Development building located at 910 Calle Negocio.
Jenifer Massey March 31, 2011 at 06:38 PM
sunshine March 31, 2011 at 07:32 PM
We need to encourage the council to instruct the GPAC on this too. Council meeting is April 5. We need to make sure that the city council pays attention to this as the GPAC takes orders from them. Mayor Donchak made it clear that she will instruct GPAC to go to the drawing board and she also made it clear that she will support the GPAC decisions. Working on the Mayor, City Council and GPAC are all important. so don't forget to push the City Council on this too. April 5, 6:00pm
richard findlay April 01, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Carol S. Ref; yours"General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) The next meeting dates for the GPAC will be held on Wednesday, April 13th at 6pm on the second floor of the Community Development building located at 910 Calle Negocio." Is the format at this meeting the same as City Council meetings eg;3 minute speech etc??
juniel April 02, 2011 at 05:35 PM
I am pleased to read that turning the vacant lot on El Camino into parking space is number one on the list. As the money for it is already available via the Coastal Parking Fund it can be done quickly to fix the one eyesore of our public owned area. With proper parking lot landscaping the entrance to San Clemente will be greatly improved...something that voters felt was needed in the March 8 election. The council could/should act on this immediately.
Bob Benoight April 02, 2011 at 09:39 PM
With due respect for Sunshine's best intent, the last thing our town needs is the General Plan Advisory Committee taking direction from City Council. City Council created the North Beach neglect in the first place. The GPAC mandate is to represent the vision and will of taxpaying residents, not fulfill the questionable judgment of Council and our incompetent Planning Commission. Sunshine needs to attend that GPAC meeting and go on record during public comments.
Carol Scott April 02, 2011 at 11:35 PM
The citizens of San Clemente have spoken. Our beautiful publicly owned beachfront open space must be preserved forever. Our citizens are not thinking only of their own pleasures now, but are looking out for the enjoyment of all future generations. The concept of Ole Hanson Beach Park will provide for all people, young and old, rich and poor, fit or disabled. It will be a wonderful place to enjoy our beautiful ocean scenes. People from San Clemente and nearby communities will be able to enjoy the gem we own in San Clemente. For more information about the wonderful proposed Ole Hanson Beach Park, go to the website: www.OleHansonBeachPark.com. Look at all the links. Become informed, and help make it become a reality.
Richard Boyer April 03, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Tom, thanks again for your leadership in consistently maintaining focus on the next step in the process. Your work demonstrates how grassroots advocacy can facilitate an open, inclusive self-governance process. It's great to see your column stimulate discussion ahead of the public meetings at which residents' input will help guide the process in the desired direction.


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