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Neither of these resolutions has ever been rescinded by the city council, so the council is on record of supporting the park at North Beach with additional parking on the ECR lots.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