Jackson Hinkle & Jake Rybcyzk
Priorities For San Clemente City Council
Protecting San Clemente from Toll Roads and the TCA
The Transportation Corridor Agency’s (TCA) proposed toll road extension is an issue on every San Clementian’s mind. We as citizens understand the havoc that this unnecessary, unwelcome intrusion would wreak on our community — the $2 billion extension to the SR-241 toll road would actually worsen traffic on the I-5 and increase Orange County residents’ travel distance. Not to mention, it would run right next to San Clemente High School, with construction lasting for many years.
And that’s not all that the TCA has in mind for us. They are also seeking to add paid toll lanes to the I-5 in San Clemente and to create an arterial road from Avenida La Pata to Christianitos Rd. No one needs reminding of our 15-year fight to save Trestles, our most iconic surf spot and a veritable national treasure; this plan would again spell a similar fate for San Onofre State Beach.
It has become abundantly clear that the TCA’s motivation is not to “[enhance] mobility in Orange County and Southern California,” as per its mission statement, but to milk taxpayers for every ounce of profit they can muster, whether through economically discriminatory tolls, development fees, or loans from state and federal governments. Despite having built zero new roads since 1996 and owing over $6 billion in over-extended debt, the agency has spent an estimated $20 million lobbying for its wildly unpopular interests.
We have a responsibility to uphold San Clemente’s exceptional quality of life, not just for ourselves, but for future generations. Legislatively, this means removing the TCA’s authority and instead giving power to the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), the true planning agency for Orange County. If elected, we will not only fight to dissolve the TCA, but also work with OCTA and our residents to find modern, de-privatized solutions and streamline mobility for our growing community. We urge you to join us in telling the TCA “Not one more inch!”
Ensuring the Safe Storage of SoCal Edison’s Nuclear Waste
Radioactive waste is currently being buried feet from the shoreline at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The canisters storing the waste cannot be repaired, transported, or monitored. Should there be any leakage, San Clemente residents would face an imminent risk of radiation poisoning or cancer, and any small natural disaster could mean the death of countless thousands as well as our coastal ecosystem. We deserve better.
Southern California Edison, the majority owner of the station, has rejected the demands of our community to move the storage, to store the waste in a safe way, or even to open up a conversation with the public. It is up to local governments to come together and demand increased safety requirements for nuclear waste storage, rather than continuing to treat this catastrophic issue as a minor inconvenience. Our elected officials need to stand up to Edison and disallow them to profit at the expense of our community and environment.
In doing so, the first order of business is to implement a real-time, onsite, independent radiation monitoring system — there can be no delay between information and action. Then we will want to move the waste off of the beach to a new facility that meets the HELMS Storage criteria. The HELMS proposal (hardened, extended-life, local, monitored, surface storage) is an initiative of the Citizens’ Oversight Projects seeking to improve the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulations for handling nuclear waste. They are the most conscientious guidelines we have.
San Clemente has an opportunity to be a leader in the movement for safe, clean nuclear energy. As members of the San Clemente City Council, we will use our positions to do what others have failed to accomplish in the past: ensure a safe, long-term solution to the radioactive waste at San Onofre.
Uniting To End Homelessness
It’s no secret that San Clemente’s homeless population has grown rapidly in the past several years. The rest of Orange County has spurned its tired, its poor, its huddled masses — putting the spotlight on us to be leaders for positive change.
The problem of homelessness is arguably our most complex and multifaceted. It concerns unemployment and disability, housing prices and availability, addiction and mental health, criminal justice, and more. And most of the causes are self-perpetuating — for example, unemployment may lead to homelessness, which makes it near impossible to be job-ready.
One thing that we know beyond doubt is that the transitional housing model does not work; we’ve seen it play out in our own backyard, with dozens of poorly run “sober living homes” which fail to curb the cycle of addiction, creating unsafe environments for their inhabitants and local residents alike. Stop-gap regulatory measures allow well-managed facilities to subsist without offering a long-term, scalable solution.
We are strong believers in the Housing First model, which is based on the principle that those who are afforded stable housing and proactive support are more empowered to address their other issues. This model has yielded substantive benefits in various localities such as Denver, Seattle, and Salt Lake City, not only decreasing homelessness but also reducing the taxpayer burden for emergency support services. To effectively plug the economic and moral drain of homelessness, we can’t just create housing opportunities; we also have to stimulate the local economy to ensure a place for every community member.
Systemic overhaul is not the work of individuals, though we will gladly lead the charge; rather, it’s all hands on deck. We will work to unite local governments and other elected officials with community groups, from nonprofit organizations to churches, toward a common end and with a singular strategy. We will also hold the Orange County Board of Supervisors to account for the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve hidden and squandered while the homelessness problem has spiraled unchecked.
A rising tide lifts all boats, and ensuring the best quality of life for all members of our community is the top priority.
Transitioning San Clemente To A Sustainable Future
As a coastal community, San Clemente is already beginning to feel the damaging effects of climate change and increased pollution. Rising sea levels and littered beaches pose an immense threat to our city’s tourism, housing market, local businesses, and nuclear waste that is being insufficiently stored at San Onofre.
According to a recent United States Geological Survey report, sea levels could rise from 1 and a half feet to more than 6 and a half feet by the year 2100. The study analysis said that bluff tops for about 300 miles of the coast in Southern California could lose 62 to 135 feet by that time and much more in certain areas.
If elected, we intend to do everything in our power to stop the degradation of our environment and pursue policies that build a more sustainable future. These policies would fit into a three part plan, including laws that would: ban local businesses from distributing single-use plastics; bring low-cost clean energy to residents through a plan called Community Choice Energy, with a goal to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030; and encourage better design and construction of buildings through a flexible, non-bureaucratic standard, known as the LEED certification program.
Many renewable energy programs entail excessive regulation and strip households of choice. Community Choice Energy, on the other hand, calls for the city government to negotiate low-cost energy contracts for its citizens, creating a government-sponsored option while allowing households the option to remain with their current provider without penalty. Community Choice Energy also encourages innovation, allows for communities to provide their residents with clean and locally sourced energy, creates new local jobs, and generates funds that the city can choose to allocate towards municipal sustainability projects. There is no reason why San Clemente can't follow in the steps of over 65 cities and lead in being an 100% renewable city.
The only way San Clemente can keep a competitive edge in being eco-friendly, welcoming tourism, and lowering the cost of energy for everyone, is if we become some of the first adopters of these smart, clean, and cheap sustainability plans. We are the de facto stewards of one of the most vibrant coastal environments in the country, it’s time we start acting like it.
In a stable housing market, landlords and real estate investors nurse a healthy profit while tenants can expect rent increases that roughly keep pace with inflation, and everyone wins.
This is not so in Orange County, where both sides of the equation are in a state of disequilibrium. Since the meltdown and recession, many individuals remain underwater on their mortgages or can’t secure a loan at all. Investors who purchased in the past decade may be locked into unfavorable adjustable-rate mortgages, and those who deferred principal payments during the recovery face fully amortized payments that have skyrocketed. On the rental side, a great number of San Clemente residents and small businesses are struggling to keep up with record high rent hikes, with households all too often spending 50% or more of their income on housing. Some working families in our community face a daily choice between housing, food, and healthcare; too many go without.
With so many people’s livelihoods in the balance, we believe that various forms of rent control, modeled successfully in countries like Canada and Germany or as close as Santa Monica, merit serious consideration. We will charter a rent control board to oversee this process. At the same time, we will encourage the expansion of housing subsidies within our community so that landlords don’t have to shoulder the burden alone.
The effects of an insecure housing market ripple through every strata of our community, from renters to borrowers to owners. It’s time we think holistically to find the most equitable solution for all our citizens.
Expanding Affordable Housing
Fighting For Emergency Medical Services
It should not be radical to suggest that every man, woman, and child in our city should have access to a nearby hospital with emergency services. But South Orange County in general and San Clemente in particular are grossly underserved in this area.
There is currently a lawsuit under submission regarding the zoning requirements for a hospital with emergency services in San Clemente. The decision of this case could be released any day. Unfortunately, even if the lawsuit is decided in favor of our city, we will not instantaneously be granted a new hospital.
Bringing in a new hospital with emergency services will require careful planning, innovative funding, and forward thinking. We believe that the City of San Clemente is in a strong position to receive funding under congressional bill H.R. 3929. Also known as the Stranded Nuclear Waste Accountability Act of 2017, H.R. 3929 establishes a fund through the Department of Energy to compensate communities burdened with stranded nuclear waste, and in our case it could pay up to $24 million. This is money that could help fund the new facility.
Regardless of the outcome of the settlement, we will continue to fight for improved emergency services for our city.
Creating A Transparent Government
An informed public is essential to democracy. Unfortunately, the public cannot be truly informed if their representatives stifle access to government information. For years, community members have been asking the San Clemente City Council to adopt “sunshine laws” to require certain proceedings of government to be open or available to the public. Time and again, these citizens have been met with a resounding “no."
Not only is access denied to the public, but members of the Council often can’t even get the document they need from other agencies within Orange County. Councilmembers gripe when this occurs but refuse even to consider adopting sunshine laws.
It is our view that government should be transparent, participatory, and collaborative. We will push to enact a sunshine ordinance in the City of San Clemente, much like the one that was passed by Santa Ana in 2012. The government was elected to serve [we] the people, and it should be held accountable.
Reforming Campaign Finance & Staying Corporate-free
We are committed to running a corporate- and developer-free campaign. That means we will refuse donations from corporations, industry lobbyists, corporate representatives, political bundlers, developers, and Political Action Committees (except for unions). You can trust that our opinions are our own, and that our actions in office will be, too.
Running for office has a rapidly growing price tag, making campaigns prohibitively expensive for most Americans. Thus the freedom to run for office is limited to a small minority of the population. In addition, with the rising cost of running for office, candidates need to spend more time fundraising, which restricts their ability to meet with their constituents and encourages them to pander and avoid talking about serious issues.
The system is broken, and the only real solution is public financing of election campaigns. New York City’s law, for example, requires participating candidates to limit campaign spending; in exchange, a public fund matches small donations.
With shady tactics and corporate influence rampant at all levels of political office among candidates all along the political spectrum, we truly must beget change from the ground up. Join us in keeping our elections fair and free.
Increasing Voter Turnout
In a democracy, it is every citizen’s duty to vote, and the first step in achieving this is to encourage everyone to register and to keep their voter registration info up to date. One way in which we could streamline this process is by enacting a simple ordinance requiring landlords to provide information on voter registration to new tenants, along with a registration form. Whenever people move, they need to register to vote or update their preexisting voter registration — this would make it simple and convenient. This ordinance would not only prove beneficial for new residents of San Clemente, but also longtime residents who may be moving to a new location.