Jim Eckel is angry about a .
"We object to people who are non-elected and who are self-appointed saviors of the soul of San Clemente [trying] to take away other people's property rights because it doesn't look quaint," Eckel said. "I'm just taken aback by the chutzpah."
Eckel owns a building north of Olen Properties' controversial development project near the historic San Clemente City building.
So far, Eckel said, he has gathered support from a dozen other downtown property owners who represent about 20 properties. Last month, they formed the Commercial Property Owners Association of San Clemente to fight the height moratorium idea making its way through the city's general plan update, which will set the course of zoning and development for the next decade.
Eckel said he's started to collect a database of about 150 downtown property owners, about 60 percent of whom live in San Clemente. He's hoping to enlist more support from them.
As he sees it, the city already has a rigorous two-year permitting process for every new addition.
"We have to go through one of the longest gauntlets of approval processes in south Orange County," Eckel said.
The campaign started in response to the , which would be a mixed-use, three-story project housing retail on the first floor and living space above.
Referring to a survey of residents, President Georgette Korsen said Olen's plan would ruin downtown's character.
“When such an overwhelming majority of residents assign ‘highest priority to preserving the unique village character’ of San Clemente, it wouldn’t seem that they’re looking to forever alter the heart of the downtown district by implementing three-story zoning,” Korsen said in a society statement.
Olen architects have pointed out that the most recent version of the plan sets back the third story and opens up courtyard space next to the old city building. They assert that would negate the Historical Society's concerns about dwarfing the historic structure.
Meanwhile, Eckel urged people "who believe in property rights" to come to the Aug. 29 Planning Commission meeting as a counter-protest against Historical Society members who plan to show up in red to support the moratorium.
The commission meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers, 100 Avenida Presidio.