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New project may change San Clemente landscape

March 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Voters in San Clemente are a week away from casting ballots on a proposal that could lead to a major change in the look of their coastal community.

Supporters insist the $18 million commercial project proposed elevated promenades will offer new ocean views.

Kathryn Stovall Dennis wants a city-owned parking lot and two other parcels turned into a nearly 50,000-square-foot village with restaurants and shops.

"Fifty percent of that space of the project is public open space that people can come and enjoy, you don't' have to spend any money," said Stovall Dennis, a Measure A supporter.

But opponents like Charles Mann say the project will block the view.

"It won't create any open space," he said. "We have it right now, we have 100 percent of it right now."

Critics also worry about losing beachfront parking.

"The parking will be taken away by the shopping center, it's going to be moved half a mile away from here and it's just unfair," Mann said.

The city is partnering with the company Lab Holding on the project.

Opponents criticize subsidizing the developer's acquisition of the land, property the city got decades ago through eminent domain for beach parking.

"It was a dirt parking lot, so the city bought it at fair market value in 1970 to develop and formalize it as a parking lot," Stovall Dennis said. "That was an improvement at the time."

Voters will have their say on the controversial development March 8.