Archives of Several Past Stories and Articles

Historic Town Center Master Plan Supported by Chamber

Now is the Time to Pass SJC's Historic Town Center Master Plan

There are many disagreements in our community, but one thing everyone shares is a desire to protect the fundamental appeal of San Juan Capistrano. The HTCMP will breathe new life into our downtown and provide a framework upon which our community can build its future in a way that benefits everyone and preserves its historic charm.
The Master Plan will not bring any changes to San Juan that are unwanted. Rather, it will enable us to move quickly and facilitate the implementation of projects that we DO want in a timely manner. This couldn’t be more critical in today’s business landscape. 
Cities no longer have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for businesses to show up – bringing new jobs and tax revenue. In this economy, the businesses have the leverage and cities are competing for their investment. 
As a smaller town with some budget constraints, San Juan Capistrano isn’t in a position to offer some of the tax breaks and other financial incentives that other cities can. However, with the adoption of the HTCMP we can instead offer the one thing that’s often just as enticing to a business; time.
With a solid framework in place outlining the available uses, a potential business can engage with City staff with a substantive understanding of its options. The businesses that are actively looking for new locations aren’t sitting through months-long back-and-forth dialogues with Planning departments anymore. They’re moving along to locations that make it simple, quick and easy for them to get their doors open.
Simple, quick and easy, though, does not mean we’re relinquishing control of things like design elements and conditional use permitting. The HTCMP is an outline; a document that serves as a menu of pre-approved choices that make sense to our community. No substantial project will move forward without community feedback.
Those processes have already made their mark on the Master Plan. Through this essential process, the Plan has been amended and altered to reflect that input. City Staff is recommending that a number of elements be modified or eliminated altogether.
Another factor that will obviously change the way the plan is implemented is the loss of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). I’ve heard some people say that without the agency, the HTCMP isn’t worth pursuing any more. I believe the opposite is true; without the Agency it is absolutely essential for us to adopt the Plan.
There are countless ways to finance projects like community centers, parking lots, City Halls, etc. Many cities just haven’t used those alternatives because the Redevelopment Agency was simply an easier option. Now that the CRA “credit card” has been cut up, we’ll have to get creative and start building funds, establish foundations or organize some kind of capital campaign.
Those are all viable and reasonable funding mechanisms that could be used to enhance our community. They may take a little longer, but many would agree that it’s a much better way to fund most projects than the CRA was.
The HTCMP would give us a huge competitive edge in fundraising relative to other communities that propose projects that require uncertain zoning changes. Investors are looking for the projects that are going to get done, not those that will tie up capital for years on end. As such, the likelihood of securing funding is exponentially greater with the Master Plan in place. 
To some degree, I understand the hesitation with adopting a plan like this.  This is a comprehensive plan that addresses many, many issues. When reading through it and considering all of those elements at once, it feels like we’re taking a wrecking ball to our beautiful town and starting from scratch.
That fear couldn’t be more misplaced. This plan is designed to be implemented over decades. Each individual component will be thoughtfully considered and evaluated for its appropriateness here. Those that we as a community like will be moved forward. Those that are not (see: extending Yorba St. across the front steps of the Blas Aguilar Adobe) will be quickly and justifiably tossed out.
All this plan does is empower us with new and exciting options that can improve our business community and quality of life. It puts the projects we’d like to see on the fast track to completion. It opens doors and says “we’re not issuing blank checks, but we are ready for business” to those who want to bring jobs and tax revenue to San Juan Capistrano.
The Chamber of Commerce, together with many local business and property owners, job creators and people who genuinely care about this community, urge our City leaders to adopt the Historic Town Center Master Plan.


Historic Master Plan Supported by Chamber

The Board of Directors of the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce voted to support the Historic Town Center Master Plan as an overall concept.

Citing the need to continue gathering comments and suggestions from community stakeholders, the Chamber is not backing every individual component of this comprehensive plan, but is wholeheartedly supporting its continued progression through the City process.

"Overall, we love the idea," said Mark Bodenhamer, Executive Director.  "We recognize there are elements of the plan that are controversial or simply not a great fit for our town, but the vast majority of the concepts in the HTCMP will benefit our local economy and maintain our town's historic charm."

The plan outlines a number of improvements that the City can make to public property and arms private property owners with new options for what may be built on various parcels in the Downtown core district.   Many of the plans components are designed to make the downtown a more pedestrian friendly business district, such as widening sidewalks and creating more parking.

Bodenhamer added, "Each element will have to go through its own vetting process and they are spread across a decades long phasing plan.   It's important to not allow the whole Plan to be derailed by singular issues that might not even be considered for 20 years."

Recently, San Juan Councilman John Taylor and Principal Planner Bill Ramsey spoke at the Chamber's Networking Breakfast to educate its members and interested residents on the Master Plan.  Taylor and Ramsey, in concert with the vision of our City Council, highlighted the need to move forward on this plan so that our local economy can keep growing and progressing.  Ramsey gave a PowerPoint Presentation outlining the Plan and it's phasing.  That presentation can be viewed by following this link: 
For other questions and comments, please contact the San Juan Chamber at or (949) 493.4700.


South County Economic Summit - Friday June 17th

The San Juan Chamber cordially invites you to participate in this extraordinary event. We are joined by the Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, San Clemente and South County Regional Chambers in hosting the first ever South County Economic Summit. We are very pleased to have Ed Leamer, Director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, as our Keynote Speaker. Mr. Leamer will offer his unparalleled insight on State and National economic trends. A panel discussion featuring local experts on three critical issues/industries:

Lucy Dunn - Pres. & CEO, Orange County Business Journal

John Severini - Pres. & CEO, California Travel Association

Dan Kelly - VP: Gov't Relations, Rancho Mission Viejo

For detailed event information and the registration form, please click HERE.

Fore information on becoming a SPONSOR - and reaching out to the 2,000 member businesses represented in the 6-Chamber partnership - click HERE.

For any other questions, please contact the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce at 949.493.4700 or email


Friday, June 17
Registration: 7:30 | Program: 8:00 - 9:30

St. Regis | Monarch Beach | Dana Point, CA

Sponsorships opportunities are also available

Click Here for a PDF Apllication to attend:
Ortega Realignment Project will Present Major Challenges to San Juan Businesses

District 12’s Project Manager Nooshin Yoosefi, Design Chief Matt Cugini and Public Information Officer Tracey Lavelle gave a detailed presentation that covered the planned changes and a timeline of the project. The construction will have major impacts on Downtown San Juan which will have to go without its primary Freeway access for long periods of time.

The project will take place over a period of 2-3 years. During the majority of that time, the Ortega overpass will shrink to just a lane or two in each direction. For a short period the overpass will be completely closed to regular traffic – only a single lane will be kept open for fire and emergency vehicles.

Cugini noted that CalTrans does everything it can to mitigate the impacts but ultimately, it will be up to the community to plan for this substantial disruption. Chamber Executive Director Mark Bodenhamer encouraged members to take his advice.

“We’re all going to be impacted by this necessary improvement project. Its affect will be compounded by the challenging economy, but with smart planning on the part of our City and the business community we’ll be able to keep commerce moving in San Juan,” Bodenhamer said.

After the presentation, the CalTrans representatives spoke directly with Councilman Larry Kramer and Public Works Director Nasser Abbaszadeh. The group spoke about the importance of coordinating this project with others that will impact that area, such as the Plaza Banderas Hotel, and local road improvements at San Juan Creek Rd.

The Chamber hosts monthly Networking Breakfasts that feature speakers on topics of community interest. Past topics have included the Mission’s Gatehouse and La Sala Preservation project and the installation of Smart Meters by SDG&E. The breakfasts are held the first Wednesday of each month from 8-9:30 a.m. at the Vintage Steakhouse.
San Juan Chamber Endorses "Yes" on B

The Board of Directors of the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to support the City’s upcoming Measure B.

A “Yes” vote on Measure B in the June 7th election would uphold the San Juan City Council’s decision to downsize and amend the land uses of a previously entitled development project on the East side of the town.

The newer project includes approximately 200 fewer housing units, a small retail/commercial component to service the new and surrounding neighborhoods, and a state of the art equestrian facility. The Chamber feels this updated plan will benefit both the community and the local economy.

Regarding the Chamber’s decision, Board President Becky Rodarte said: “There’s been a lot of misinformation and confusion about Measure B, but we see a very simple choice: the newly approved project is less dense, better for the local economy and offers a much improved balance of residential, commercial and recreational open space.”

The Chamber will be taking an active role in the campaign to help address concerns that many residents aren’t properly informed about the initiative. A number of Chamber members and others in the community felt misled or confused about Measure B’s true impact, if passed.

“The reality is, the people of San Juan will be choosing between two developments. The vast majority of people we’ve heard from feel the second project – which Measure B would preserve – is a much better option,” said Mark Bodenhamer, Executive Director of the Chamber.

The Chamber’s decision was also influenced by general opposition to infringement of property rights, concerns about the deficient presentation of facts during the signature gathering process and other minor factors. Ultimately, though, the choice was made based on one project standing out as a better alternative for the community.

For more information on the Chamber of Commerce and/or this endorsement, please contact Chamber Executive Director Mark Bodenhamer at (949) 493-4700 or  .

Restaurant Week 2011

You’re invited to come taste the fantastic offerings of some of San Juan Capistrano’s best dining establishments!

The San Juan Chamber is partnering with many local restaurants to offer the first Restaurant Week in our town. From May 16-22nd, participating eateries will offer fixed price menus for lunch or dinner at great savings from regular prices. With over 20 participating restaurants, there will certainly be something for everyone's tastes.

Lunch specials will be either $10 or $15 and Dinners will be $15, $25 or $35. A list of participating restaurants can be found on the Restaurant Week The website will provide basic details about each of the venues as well as a description of the preset menus.

You can also become a San Juan Restaurant Week “VIP” by purchasing a wristband from the Chamber of Commerce or at participating restaurants. VIP’s will get special perks at the dining establishments AND are entered into a drawing for a great prize package.

For more information, please contact the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce at 949.493.4700 or  .
Participating Restaurants:

• Café Mozart
• Cedar Creek Inn
• El Adobe de Capistrano
• Hidden House Coffee
• Hummingbird House
• L'Hirondelle French Cuisine
• Marie Callender's
• Mr. B's Pizza Kitchen
• Ricardo's Place
• Ruby's Diner
• Sarducci's Capistrano Depot
• Skimmers Panini Café
• Sol Del Sur Bistro
• Sundried Tomato Café
• Tannin's Restaurant & Wine Bar
• The Tea House on Los Rios
• The Vintage Steakhouse
• Ricks Café / Regency Theater
• Thai Juan On


San Juan Chamber of Commerce