Winter 2015

The people of San Juan Capistrano have spoken! Residents have selected Reata Park and Event Center as a 2015 "Best of San Juan Capistrano People's Choice Horseshoe Award" recipient. 

Check out the special edition of the Capistrano Dispatch on February 13th to see if Reata Park takes home the gold or silver award! 


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Brad Gates, President
Dick Paulsen, V.P. 
and Treasurer
Tim Neely, Secretary
Mike Barth
Greg Dillion
Mike Evans
Matt Gaffney
Al King
Rhonda Kreger
Tom Ostensen
Paul St. Pierre
Derek Ostensen, Conservation Consultant
Robert R. Redwitz, CPA


San Juan Capistrano
Open Space Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit public benefit corporation that was established in
January 2009.

Our mission is to acquire and promote the preservation, restoration, expansion, improvement and public use of open space within the City of San Juan Capistrano to enrich the quality of life for area residents.

The City's Parks Belong to the People

One of the defining characteristics of San Juan Capistrano is that 40% of our city is permanent open space. As surrounding cities in Orange County lose precious land to development, residents have shown their unwavering support to preserve the open space we have and add to it whenever possible. Not only does this open space contribute to the rustic beauty of our city, but it also provides a habitat for native plants and animals, shapes and reduces future development projects, and adds to our neighborhood property values. 


Northwest Open Space
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos 
In 1990, San Juan Capistrano voters passed a bond measure to allow the city to purchase private land and rezone it as permanent open space. As a result of this measure, which passed with 70% of voters' approval, the city was able to purchase the Northwest Open Space, where the staging area and Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park stand, and Kinoshita Farms, where the Community Center, Sports Park, Boys & Girls Club, and an organic farming operation currently stand.


Again in 2008, voters showed their resounding support for open space by passing Measures X and Y. Measure X requires voters to approve any changes to land designated as open space in the city's General Plan. Measure Y enabled the city to sell up to $30 million in bonds to acquire additional land for open space preservation. In 2009, the city council voted unanimously to purchase 132 acres of land in the eastern part of town (that was scheduled to include 400 homes), which now features the Riding Park, Reata Park and Event Center, and a dedicated land conservancy area. The Riding Park is managed by a private operator hired by the city who is responsible to maintain the property and provide events that are open to the public.


Eastern open space area where
Reata Park now stands
 ©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos
Open space property purchased under these measures is protected and belongs to the citizens of San Juan Capistrano. Under Measure X, designated open space cannot be rezoned without a vote of the people. There has been some discussion recently about the city selling the Riding Park, which goes against the will of the residents. Now more than ever, we need to stay committed to preserving and protecting our open space for future generations!


Open Space Foundation: Providing Safe Access and Amenities to City's Open Space

While purchasing property and rezoning it as permanent open space is critical to preservation, it is just one part of the equation. Often, the land that is purchased by the city is in disrepair - fenced off, unsafe, overrun with invasive weeds - with no way for the public to access it. The Northwest Open Space sat locked up and vacant for more than 20 years because the city did not have the funds to make it accessible to the public. 


The Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park is a popular destination for residents
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos
That's why a group of local citizens established the non-profit San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation in 2009. Foundation volunteers independently raise money for improvements and have donated thousands of hours of their personal time doing hands-on work such as clearing the property, creating parking areas, building fences, providing picnic tables, and reestablishing native habitats. All work is done at no cost to the city. 


When the Foundation's work is complete, these areas open to the public and are enjoyed fully by residents and visitors. Examples of projects that the Foundation has brought to residents are the Northwest Open Space Staging Area, 2C Ranch Staging Area, Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park, and Reata Park and Event Center.


Foundation improvements allow visitors to enjoy public open space
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos

However, there are still portions of the city's open space that remain inaccessible. For example, plans have been drawn up to improve the 40 remaining acres in the Northwest Open Space, but the area remains locked up and the city currently has not given approval to make this area usable by the public. The Foundation is actively researching these properties and is eager to make these neglected areas accessible. With your support, the Foundation will continue to make improvements that preserve and make your open space usable and enjoyable for all.

Your Membership Helps Our Community
Foundation members help our city be the best it can be!
©Eddie Perlas/Epic Photos

One of the best ways you can support our community and preserve our open space is by becoming an annual member of the Open Space Foundation. Your membership has a direct and substantial impact on the success of our projects - and it's tax-deductible


The Foundation is a grassroots organization dedicated to making the city's open spaces accessible to all. It is completely run by volunteers so your donation goes directly toward open space improvements.  

There are many benefits to becoming an Open Space Foundation member, such as: 

  • Subscription to the Open Space Foundation's quarterly e-Newsletter
  • Open Space Foundation decal
  • Advance notice of public events
  • Sponsor recognition in select Open Space Foundation publications
  • Knowing that you are doing something positive for your community and your future!

Join or renew today! For more information and/or to register online, please visit our website 

Reata Park Wins "Project of the Year"
Reata Park has been recognized as an outstanding "Recreation and Athletic Facility" by the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA). 

The APWA BEST "Project of the Year" award was presented to the City of San Juan Capistrano at a ceremony in December. This significant award recognizes public agencies for outstanding capital improvement projects and public works programs. 

The Open Space Foundation is proud to be part of the effort to bring the award-winning Reata Park to the citizens of San Juan Capistrano!
Left to right: City Senior Planner David Contreras, City Public Works & Utility Director Keith Van Der Maaten, Open Space Foundation Board Member Mike Evans, City Senior Engineer Khoon Tan, City Engineer/Traffic Engineer George Alvarez, Public Works Assistant Director Steve Kooyman, and APWA President Larry Stevens