This “state of the city” first appeared as an article in the Capistrano Dispatch on March 4, 2013
By now, I am sure most everyone has seen the construction activity at Ortega Highway and the I-5 freeway. This construction will be a disruption to our community for the next two years, but promises to provide improved mobility and safety when completed. We have had a lot of traffic construction improvements over the last several years and I would hope that you would agree that the inconveniences have been worth the wait. To list a few: Camino Capistrano & Del Obispo; the widening of the Del Obispo bridge over the Trabuco Creek; Rancho Viejo Road & Junipero Serra Rd; Camino Capistrano & the I-5; and the construction of the Enhanced Safety Crossings at the railroad tracks. All of these projects have caused some inconvenience but are now functioning at better levels of service for our motoring public. In addition, the City Council recently declared our railroad crossings as “quiet zones” which will now eliminate the need for the train engineers to blow their horns as they travel through town. Additionally, the decades old “ghost train” phenomenon will be eliminated by August of this year.
My point to all this is that with inconvenience comes progress and we are seeing great indicators of our town moving aggressively ahead on many fronts. One major indicator is the 17% increase in sales tax revenue that the City has collected this year over the same period as last which indicates to me that we are showing a modest recovery. But we must not rest on our laurels. The Ortega/I-5 construction should not dissuade our residents to continue to “shop local”. We have the best restaurants, specialty shops, entertainment venues (Camino Real Playhouse, Regency Theater, Zoomars, etc.) auto dealers, markets, and big box retailers in South County! And remember that not all our shopping is “downtown.” We also have fine shopping and eating areas on the “East side of Town” at the Ortega Business Center and the Marbella Plaza. These shop owners are committed to providing the best quality service and products to our residents so please patronize them as much as you can.
And when was the last time you visited our beloved Mission San Juan Capistrano? Celebrate the arrival of the swallows on March 19th and renew your spirit by visiting the beautiful gardens of the Mission, dropping by Serra Chapel for a moment of prayer, or enjoying the “Mission Treasures Exhibit”, a display of rare paintings, religious artifacts, and documents related to Mission history. A new Gate House and Gift Shop welcomes all visitors with a new entry and shopping for special mementos of your visit.
And let’s all promise to be a bit more tolerant and courteous during the construction. Let that one last car in ahead of you at the light and the favor will be returned when you are in the same predicament. Plan your trips a bit more carefully and allow yourself more time to complete them. Your City Council has been meeting with CalTrans on a regular basis in order to coordinate our emergency response and community involvement during construction and have obtained extra funding from the OC Transportation Authority for public outreach to keep you informed. Our City is encouraging more events during this project with reduced and waived fees for use of public facilities and services in order to stimulate business and tourism. The following resources will aid you in keeping abreast of the construction: www.ortega.dot.ca.gov ; www.sanjuancapistrano.org; www.sanjuanchamber.com; www.facebook.com/ortegainterchangeproject; and www.twitter.com/Ortegahighway.
Our town has weathered earthquakes, floods, and droughts in the past. When these unfortunate incidents occur, we pull together and make things better for all by sharing ourselves and our treasure. So please, consider shopping local for your needs and entertainment. Our local merchants will appreciate it and the local tax revenue will go a long way towards providing for vital city services.
Sam Allevato is currently Mayor Pro Tem and has served on the City Council for the last 9 years, serving as Mayor twice before. He is a retired police veteran spanning five decades of public service. With his wife, Vicky, he has lived in San Juan for the last 37 years and is an avid equestrian. He raised his children here and now enjoys having his grandchildren spend the weekends and sharing in the town’s many charms. [More about Sam here.]