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San Clemente Journal

The Battle for North Beach

May 01, 2011 09:31PM ● By Don Kindred

Ole Hanson Beach Club

Publisher's Message - May June July 2011
by Don Kindred

“When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”  - African Proverb

All roads lead to North Beach ...  from north to south, it is the currently-controversial juncture of the historic El Camino Real and the venerable Pacific Coast Highway.

It is dissected by the broad and constantly-under-construction Avenida Pico, which spans the width of our city and dead ends at the Boca de la Playa, the Mouth of the Ocean ... North Beach. The bike trail, the beach trail and the railroad all list it as a destination.  And it seems I always end up there as well, back to North Beach, my memories along with my message ... and here we are again. It was the birthplace of this 30-year love affair I’ve had with this community. It was the first place I visited when I came here. It was where I first started working, it was where I started my first business. My children, like most of yours, learned to swim in the Ole Hanson pool, and the first time they tasted the salt of the sea was the beach right in front of it.

As my neighbor longs for a time before my house was built. When he could ride unimpeded to the hills without the barrier of the freeway, when the community phone book was a few pages stitched together and folded, I too, long for my time in a not-so-little town of 25,000,  when I thought I would teach my children to drive on that empty road out to TRW. But things change, it seems they grow or they start to decay but nothing stays the same. Now we’re at about 70,000 people, I’ve tried to grow with it.I always figured if this community was kind enough to accept me, who am I to deny others. I can take a personal loss for community gain. I’ll be voting yes on Measure A. Now, don’t send me letters. Don’t take my yard sign. I’ve earned a right to my opinion. I earned it by attending or following five years of meetings, of asking questions, of walking the project, of raising concerns, and seeing the plan adapt to every new problem thrown at it.  The place where I used to lay my towel on the sand at North Beach is mostly rocks today, and I understand that people might like to enjoy a coastal environment without having to bring a beach chair and bathing suit.  The Playa del Norte plan creates a small but creatively designed village destination in an underutilized parking lot. We’re not tearing down Casa Romantica here. But understand, if you accept my opinion without doing your own research, without getting some facts, and forming your own opinion, then you do yourself and your community a grave disservice.

Toward that end, the Journal has asked two of the most informed citizens in San Clemente on this subject, two recently past city councilmen and former mayors, who have both served as our public stewards from the beginning of project until the end of last year, to each write 750 word arguments. Joe Anderson is voting “yes” on Measure A, and Wayne Eggleston is voting “no”. They offer their differing viewpoints of the issue on page 12. I don’t believe that every issue before the City should come to a public vote ... that’s what we elect a city council for. But by the efforts of concerned citizens, Measure A passes the future of Playa del Norte directly to us. As San Clementeans, we have the responsibility to educate ourselves before we use that power. But foremost, we must understand, there are intelligent, passionate people on both sides of this issue. Those who hold a viewpoint different from our own are not our enemies, they’re our neighbors. When the arguments turn from the ideology of an issue to the personal, we loose a piece of ourselves, and we rip at the very fabric that holds us together.

In some of our finest moments, I have sat in the bleachers of our children’s youth, smiling side by side with you, while we cheered for opposing teams. I cherish that, that’s where our community is. I have also developed a fondness for our founder’s vision and the “healthy joy of life” that he sought for it’s inhabitants, I cherish that, too.

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