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Commission Says: Quash 3-Story Ban Downtown

Historical Society representatives are furious, and property owners say they feel vindicated. Whether the controversial ban is implemented will ultimately be up to the San Clemente City Council.

The San Clemente Planning Commission Wednesday recommended that the city continue to allow for three-story buildings downtown in certain circumstances, rejecting calls for a ban on tall buildings.

The commissioners opted keep the city’s current zoning codes but agreed the city should make codes more restrictive to have greater control over the outcome of development and to preserve the “village character” of the city. But, the seven commissioners uniformly agreed an outright ban would be a "blunt instrument for such a subjective and visceral thing as village character," as Commission Jim Ruehlin put it.

Instead, commissioners wanted to control the look and feel of new construction with more stringent and specific codes such as requiring setbacks for any third story additions so buildings didn't loom over the street.

Commissioner Barton Crandell advocated that the city adopt "form-based codes," a relatively new governance tool used recently in cities like Fullerton to govern not only what buildings look like, but how they look compared to adjacent buildings, the public right-of-way and the street as a whole.

City Planner Jim Pechous pointed out that adopting form-based codes was a long and involved process. Also expensive.

Principle Planner Jeff Hook said third stories are subject to stringent review even under current codes.

In what has likely been San Clemente's most polarizing debate, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"3-story-ban-leads-to-heated-debate-decision-postponed"} --> since the 2011 battle over now-defunct the faction led by the

Mike DanaPoint September 20, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Whats also left out of these discussions is the property tax and other revenue denser development could bring, these moneys could be used for example for parks or even to purchase open space on the edges of town to make san clemente's trail system more complete. Increasing height and density is not a zero sum game if done right, everybody in San Clemente could benefit from denser development downtown with more viable business as well as more open space all around town and better kept public spaces that already exist.
Lindsey Hanson September 21, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Cool Mike from Dana Point. You can have all the three story fun you want... In DANA POINT.
Tom Barnes September 22, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Is this the same Planning Commission that voted to get rid of Open Space which brought about Measure C; supported the mis-named Village Courtyard with its Ralph's on steroids structure; the illegal signs at Marblehead that cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and payout fees; and, of course supported the land giveaway to the LAB at North Beach which the voters overturned in Measure A. Sounds like they are right on course again to be WRONG, just as they have been on every other important issue. For all planning issues look at how the Planning Commission votes and then vote the opposite and you will be right. If the Planning Commission gets its way look forward to sky, sun, and view blocking buildings in the downtown T-Zone. If this is what you want move to Huntington Beach. Let our Spanish Village by the Sea remain a village, not a 3-story nightmare.

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