Steve Ynzunza Building San Clemente One Step at a Time
Feb 25, 2016 10:04AM
● By Donia Moore
Steve Ynzunza and his faithful dog Rio.
Steve Ynzunza [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
by Donia Moore
If you want something done, ask a busy person. If that person happens to be talented, big-hearted Steve Ynzunza, owner of Coast Property Services, count yourself fortunate. A licensed general contractor, Steve has that rare mix of creativity and practicality to see any building project through to completion - the right way.
The San Clemente resident started building as a boy, helping his father construct corrals and shelters for the horses, chickens, cows and 23 dogs on their 10-acre ranch in the City of Industry. It wasn’t long before the neighbors were asking him, “Can you fix it?”
Steve’s family was in the printing trade, but he preferred building and fixing things. A stint in the concrete business where big sister Donna worked taught him about building with that material. Later, Steve’s brother-in-law, Dave, started his own concrete business. His foreman saw Steve’s potential and taught him everything he needed to know about concrete.
The Beach Train
The beginning of San Clemente’s Beach Train was a step in the right direction for Steve. The City wanted Metro-Link trains to make a stop at the pier, but there was no step for passengers to use to access the train. Rick Anderson and Jerry Lehman had secured the arrangements for the train, and Rick approached Steve to help with the project. Rick got the materials they needed to build a removable box platform, to be used whenever the train came through. When the train was scheduled, Steve, Rick, Jerry and a number of other volunteers would move the wooden boxes to the train’s platform so that passengers could disembark. Metrolink was soon coming so often that they agreed a permanent platform was necessary. Due to its upcoming summer schedule, Metrolink could only give them 21 days to build it. Surprisingly, Steve and Rick got their friends together and built the permanent platform in just 11 days. During construction, a Metrolink representative would blow a whistle when the train was coming. Work on the platform stopped while the workers fled to safety. Once the train passed, they returned to work. A plaque near the platform commemorates their efforts.
It was Steve’s first of many volunteer projects in his adopted hometown of San Clemente, and it started a flood of volunteering in his life that few others have been able to match. Twenty-two years later, that flood has yet to ebb.
“I am a volunteer”, Steve says proudly.
In addition to many construction projects around the area, he helped to build the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, and sat on its Board of Directors for 12 years.
His creative mind latched onto a suggestion of holding a Drink Contest, which he organized and chaired for nine years.
When the Battle of the Paddle was a start-up idea, Steve was recruited by his friend Barrett Tester. He became the Logistics Coordinator, helping to build the affair into a world class event. Asked to help with fundraising for at-risk middle school girls at Haley’s House, the project so appealed to Steve’s large heart that he dove right in. With his support, the Paddle Party grew into the biggest Paddleboard lesson in the world. It made the Guiness Book of Records when the previous world record was broken on his birthday.
A sand sculpting contest led Steve to the Ocean Festival. Over the years, he helped build it into a much larger event, complete with the hugely popular Children’s Pavilion. He served on its Board of Directors for 18 years before he had time to actually see the event.
Fiesta is another successful community event that he participates in as the event’s Co-Chair, and this past year, he became involved with the Downtown Business Association Car Show, which had over 400 entries for the first time in its history.
Steve’s Basque ancestry instilled him with a reverence for the environment, and he is concerned about the future of our ocean-related festivities because of San Clemente’s beach sand erosion.
“The sand desperately needs replacing or we will not have a beach to hold events like these.” He remembers the devastation of the last El Nino vividly. “So much of the beach was eroded that the tunnel wasn’t visible. Kids were boogie boarding down the streets. I’ll never forget the sight of a Honda CRN ending up on the bottom of the street.”
He urges people to take this season’s El Nino precautions seriously.
Occasionally, Steve needs to recharge his amazing energy batteries. Spending time with his lovely 21-year-old daughter Brianna (“Breezy”) and adventuring are the perfect antidotes.
Steve summited Mt. Whitney with his sister Trish, rode in the100-mile Solvang Century Bicycle race through Santa Maria, and braved class four and five white water rapids on the Kern River. “I guess it was a good ride – no one fell out of the raft!”
Steve’s favorite adventure was with close friend Barrett Tester. The twosome spent 30 days trekking through the Andes in the Patagonia Region of Argentina and Chile, starting in Punta Arenas. On Christmas Eve, rain, wind, snow, and ice- all in an hour - convinced them to leave their tents and head into a tiny village. They spent Christmas with a local restaurant owner, who was also cook, waiter and village postmaster. “He was a good cook,” remembers Steve.
New Year’s Eve found them in Torres del Paine National Park at Grey Lake, part of Grey Glacier, one of the last living glacier in the world. Rambling along the trail, they met Argentine gauchos on horseback taking supplies to refugios (shelters) throughout the mountains. The gauchos invited them to their camp to celebrate. Trekkers from around the world joined them, and that night, under the moon and stars, Steve and his friends spent hours eating, dancing amid the icebergs, and listening to the gauchos play their guitars in the solitary splendor of Patagonia. They hiked the demanding Inca Trail to the ancient site of Machu Pichu. After taking a bus across the border into Argentina, they trekked to Perito Moreno Glacier.
And whether its building, volunteering or adventuring, whatever Steve Ynzunza is doing he does it the right way.