Although many members of the public at the General Plan Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday night favored a park at North Beach, few members of the committee thought it was a good idea.
Wednesday night, the committee rated its priorities for development as requested by council.
Even after , the issue remains contentious. Arguments in a case brought by the developer are scheduled for court Thursday—
Those are pushing the General Plan Advisory Committee and the city to take tangible steps forward, while remain opposed to a park.
and an advocate of an plan, and Gene Gilbert, who has a more extensive park vision for the area, both spoke at the meeting, as did several others in favor of a park.
Others urged the committee to make renovating thea priority, while at least one resident wanted the city to keep parking the way it's now configured next to the .
Many on the committee remained unconvinced, however.
“After the Measure A election, I was open to the idea of a park,” said Bill Hart, a committee member and “Here’s my problem right now: I didn’t hear any unified mandate that said, ‘We voted against Measure A so we could have a park.’ ”
Citing a column in the San Clemente Times by park proponent and former Councilman Wayne Eggleston, Hart called the park idea another “political football.”
Committee member Jim Ruehlin was worried about the cost for installation of a park and the ongoing cost of maintenance.
“One thing that’s been lacking from every park discussion is … how we pay for it and how will we continue to pay for it,” he said.
The point may be moot anyway, because the committee has no authority to change zoning laws and is tasked only with advising the council on general land use.
The 21 members who were present went through an exercise to mark priorities for development. Members placed marks on charts next to their top priorities chosen from a list. The photos that accompany this article show the charts.
Most wanted the North Beach area and South El Camino Real west of I-5 to be priorities for development projects.
The triangle site at North Beach was also under discussion—most said the patch of land now encompassed by the parking lot should remain part of the parking lot or be used for something other than a park. Only two members marked that there should be a park at the site.
Overwhelmingly, fixing the Miramar Theater and a vacant lot on El Camino Real were the committee’s priorities for development at North Beach.