San Clemente Playa Del Norte Development at North Beach, Measure A (March 2011)
On July 20, 2010, the San Clemente City Council voted 3-2 to approve a proposed Playa del Norte project at North Beach. The Playa del Norte project, if it had been approved to go forward, would have occupied a triangle-shaped lot next to the Ole Hanson Beach Club. The project would have been 48,970 square feet with restaurants, shops and public walkways. The land that would have hosted the retail development is currently used as a city parking lot.
Development at the Playa del Norte project would have been implemented by LAB (Little American Business) Holding.
A "yes" vote on Measure A would have upheld the San Clemente City Council’s approval of Resolution No. 10-53 authorizing the Playa del Norte commercial project.
A "no" vote was a vote to rescind the city council's approval of the Playa del Norte project.
Lawsuit to overturn election
- See also: 2011 ballot measure litigation
After the March election, supporters of the development filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court seeking to have the results of the election thrown out.
The lawsuit was filed by Shaheen, Linda Sadeghi and Jeanne O'Grady.
They argued that the ballot materials didn't adequately explain what voters would be voting on. The attorney for the plaintiffs specifically argued that the voter information materials and the city attorney's analysis were inaccurate because they included and described the Playa del Norte development proposal. As well, they argued that part of Measure A's language called for voters to vote on specific use permits, and that specific use permits are an administrative decision, and that administrative decisions are prohibited under California law from being taken up in a ballot measure.
The case was assigned to Judge James Di Cesare. On July 28, 2011, he ruled against the plaintiffs, saying, "The petition ... is denied...After an election has already taken place, its results may only be challenged on the basis that (1) there has been a violation of California Elections Code ... or (2) if there has been a constitutional violation....Issues raised by petitioners do not amount to constitutional violations."
The plaintiffs said that after the ruling that several legal options remain open to them, including an appeal of Judgge Di Cesare's ruling.
The Pro North Beach Vision Coalition supported a "yes" vote on Measure A.
The official ballot measure arguments in favor of Measure A were signed by:
- John Dorey of DeRail the Trail
- Kathryn Stovall Dennis of the Pro North Beach Vision Coalition
- Susan Ritschel
- Myrna Erway
- Jim Dahl
According to Dennis of the Pro North Beach Vision Coalition, "“San Clemente is a neighborhood community and is one that likes to serve its visitors. This project will enhance our beach town, and I see it as an investment in our future. And regardless of the purchase price, the city will be receiving a percentage of profits from future sales, taxes and parking revenue. The combined revenue is set to generate anywhere from $1 to $2 million per year for the City, which is money we are not generating now. Plus it will give us another opportunity to enjoy the beach."
Reasons given by supporters in the official ballot guide for a "yes" vote on Measure A included:
- "Existing parking will be reconfigured, new parking will be added and beachfront parking will be preserved. There will be plenty of close parking for all uses."
- "People who come for the Beach, to walk the Coastal Trail or use the Ole Hanson Beach Club will now have a good reason to stay in North Beach."
- "World class architects designed Playa Del Norte as a small village in the Spanish Colonial Revival style that blends with and respects the District’s historic buildings."
- "Over 40% of the project is dedicated to public open space."
- The project will provide $300,000/year in increased property and sales taxes to San Clemente.
The official ballot measure arguments opposed to Measure A were signed by:
- Wayne Eggleston
- Fien Yamamoto
- Carol Scott
- Gary Hopp of Save San Clemente Open Space
- Charles Mann of Vision San Clemente
Reasons listed by opponents in the official ballot guide for voting against Measure A included:
- "Your beachfront land may be SOLD for a fraction of appraised value. Why the sweetheart deal?"
- "The LAB will replace convenient parking we currently use for the beach, trail, Metrolink, and Beach Club. Replacement parking will go up Pico near the U-Haul. Try that trek with your kids and beachgear."
- "The City may pay an unlimited amount for developer’s parking and infrastructure costs. City staff “assumed” it would be $4.5 million. They don’t know for sure. TAXPAYERS COULD BE LIABLE FOR MILLIONS MORE."
- "The City used 'eminent domain' to take the land from private owners in 1970 because we needed public beach parking. Now we’re more crowded and they want to sell it. Residents lose twice . . . both our land and our parking."
- "Some ocean views will be permanently blocked by the LAB."
Path to the ballot
Charles Mann led the effort to collect signatures to place Measure A on the ballot. His objective was to give voters in San Clemente the final say over whether the Playa Del Norte development can go ahead. 4,095 signatures were required for this purpose.
Ultimately, more than 7,800 signatures were collected and submitted to qualify Measure A for the ballot.
- City attorney's analysis of Measure A (dead link)
- Argument in favor of Measure A (dead link)
- Argument against Measure A (dead link)
- Pro North Beach, in favor of a "yes" vote on Measure A
- Playa del Norte facebook page
- "No on Measure A" website
- North Beach Green Alternative, website opposed to Measure A
- San Clemente Times, "San Clemente Leaders Set North Beach Referendum for March," September 22, 2010
- Orange County Register, "Group to submit referendum petitions Wednesday," August 17, 2010
- San Clemente Patch, "Judge Denies Effort to Scrap Measure A Results," July 28, 2011
- San Clemente Times, "Support Group Rally’s to Stop Referendum," July 29, 2010 (dead link)
- San Clemente Times, "Signatures Qualify Challenge Against North Beach Approval," September 14, 2010 (dead link)