Summer 2018

The long days of summer offer bountiful opportunities to enjoy our open space. In this issue, read about the new Sheldon Cohen memorial bench that has been unveiled at Reata Park and Event Center. Also in this issue, Tree of Life Nursery President Mike Evans shares his observations on all of the amazing features that Reata Park offers, as well as the wide range of activities that visitors can enjoy while at the park. As you may know, SJC Open Space Foundation volunteers built Reata Park four years ago and presented it to the city, which now manages the park's daily operations. Lastly, there is an update on the ongoing city council discussion of a proposed smoking ban in San Juan Capistrano parks. 

Sending out a big THANK YOU to all of the San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation members who have renewed their memberships or joined this year! Your support is the reason we can continue to work toward our goal of making our city's open spaces usable and accessible for all. If you have not joined or renewed your membership yet, please see the article below for more information on how to register.
© Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos
Sheldon Cohen's family gather on the memorial bench that bears his name

Cohen Memorial Bench Unveiled at Reata Park

When beloved San Juan Capistrano resident Sheldon Cohen passed away in December 2015, the community rallied to show its support. Sheldon was devoted to his family, friends and community, and served on the city's Planning Commission as well as several other committees. He was a founding member of the SJC Open Space Foundation and served as the Board's first Treasurer.
To honor Sheldon, the SJC Open Space Foundation committed its support toward installing a memorial bench bearing his name in our city's open space. Sheldon's friend and SJC Open Space Foundation board member Al King commented"Sheldon's Memorial Bench is a wonderful tribute to a person so devoted to the community and open space."

When it was discovered that San Juan Capistrano did not have an official policy on how to handle requests for memorial donations on city property, SJC Open Space board members brought this need to the attention of the city. After several months of work, a memorial donation policy and process were established and approved by the city council.
The Sheldon Cohen memorial bench was approved and installed in the Historical Garden section of Reata Park and Event Center in June. Sheldon's close family recently held a small, private gathering to unveil the new bench. "The fact that the Memorial Bench will be there in perpetuity for generations of San Juan residents to visit is an honor to our entire family," said Lois Cohen, Sheldon's wife.

Park visitors will be able to rest on the bench and enjoy the beautiful native plants and scenery that this area offers. Reata Park is open daily from 7:30 am to sunset and is located at 28632 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano.
California sycamore and coast live oak trees. Shrubs include jojoba and Great Basin sagebrush. Flowering are Cleveland sage, Matilija poppy, foothill and showy penstemon, and damianita daisy.

San Juan Capistrano's Quiet Place

By Mike Evans

The people who visit Reata Park and Event Center every day probably don't want you to see this article. They love the peace and quiet and they may think their place will someday become crowded. It won't. There is plenty of room for all with ample parking, long hours, secluded paths, picnic grounds and restroom facilities, and best of all, it's free. The "Reata Regulars" have discovered their very own paradise where they stroll in the shade of huge old trees, relax on a bench to observe butterflies, hummingbirds and lizards, sketch, paint, take pictures, or just sit quietly. Sometimes our minds simply need a rest. Or for those who prefer activity, the park is tied into the City's bicycle and equestrian trail systems, and lots of folks begin and end their rides there. Also, the group areas, including the large fences open spaces, pavilion, picnic grounds and "limo barn" historic house, are available to rent for group events.
San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation volunteers built Reata Park and presented it to the City four years ago. During that time, it has become a go-to place for nature lovers, bird watchers, school and church groups, equestrians, joggers, cyclists and especially California native plant enthusiasts. Among its 250 plus different varieties, numerous plants are always in bloom, and springtime is absolutely amazing. Any time of year you should bring your camera! Our SJC Open Space Foundation members are proud of Reata, and we continue our involvement there by providing the City with monthly horticultural advice focused on proper garden care.

A serene path through the California sycamore, California pepper and coast live oak trees. The blue flowering ceanothus attracts many beneficial pollinators.

If you are not already a frequent visitor, become a "Reata Regular." In our town we are very fortunate to have so much dedicated open space. Reata Park is special because it offers the best of everything that is San Juan Capistrano, including natural habitat for wildlife, open space for events and activities, and entry onto our trail system; all close at hand and accessible to everyone, appealing to all ages. Dogs are allowed on leash and the main path leads to a hike and bike trail that you can take clear to the beach or anywhere our trail system leads. At Reata, you'll see walkers and joggers, horses and riders, tourists and locals. But perhaps the folks who get the most out of the park are those who simply show up on a regular basis so they can slow down to a gentle pace and appreciate nature up close and personal.

SJC City Council Considers Smoking Ban at City Parks
At the San Juan Capistrano City Council meeting in May, council members took the first step toward banning smoking in the city's public parks. Several local cities already ban smoking in their public parks. Taking it one step further, Laguna Beach was the first city in Orange County to ban smoking citywide in 2017. Dana Point followed earlier this year with its own citywide smoking ban.
City council members discussed various options and ideas on how to move forward. Ultimately, a motion was approved for staff to bring back, to a future city council meeting, an ordinance or amendment to the current smoking ordinance to include a smoking ban at city parks. One of the big challenges that will also need to be considered is how to enforce it.
The proposed smoking ban ordinance is currently on the August 7th city council meeting agenda for further discussion.
Our Members Are Making a Difference!
The SJC Open Space Foundation exists because of you - our members! Thank you to everyone who recently joined or renewed their annual membership. Your support makes our work possible and you can see firsthand the difference you have made in our community.

If you haven't joined or renewed yet, it's not too late! Become a member today and receive these benefits:
  • Subscription to the SJC Open Space Foundation's e-Newsletter
  • SJC Open Space Foundation decal
  • Advance notice of public events
  • Sponsor recognition in select SJC Open Space Foundation publications
  • Knowing that you are doing something positive for your community!
For more information and/or to register online, please visit our website. Thank you for your support!