Winter 2019

Happy New Year! As 2019 begins, we celebrate San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation's accomplishments over our first 10 years and look forward to exciting new projects in our future. Several proposals are being developed and presented to the city, such as building a needed safety fence on the San Juan Creek trail. See articles below for more information on these topics and other open space news.

We also welcome newly elected San Juan Capistrano City Councilmembers John Taylor and Troy Bourne. Councilmember Bourne and Mayor Brian Maryott recently stopped by the SJC Open Space Foundation board meeting to learn more about the Foundation's mission, accomplishments, and proposals. It was a pleasure to share our thoughts and exchange ideas for future open space projects. We look forward to the city council's leadership as we all strive to make San Juan Capistrano the best city it can be!

A Look Back on Our First 10 Years!

The City of San Juan Capistrano has acquired hundreds of acres of open space land with funds from two voter-approved bond initiatives. However, the land often sits neglected and unused as the city lacks funding for improvements. To address this need, a group of local volunteers established the San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation (SJCOSF) in 2009. Its mission: to preserve, protect and restore the city's public open space for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

SJCOSF has grown over the past 10 years, but is still completely volunteer-run so donations go directly toward open space improvements. Volunteers do the bulk of the work - from physical labor to administrative duties. All improvements are donated to the city upon completion. Here's a look back some of our major accomplishments:

Northwest Open Space Staging Area - Spring 2011
SJCOSF volunteers created a new multi-use staging area by fencing and grading a 2.5-acre parcel of northwest open space land that was acquired with the 1990 bond proceeds. The site had been virtually unusable for 20 years. Thanks to SJCOSF's efforts, the area now has fencing, irrigation, two historical replica water troughs, picnic tables, hitching posts, dog waste stations, a new entrance, and monument sign to welcome visitors.
 
2C Ranch Staging Area - Summer 2012
The 109-acre site, purchased by the city in 2009, was in total disrepair with no amenities to attract visitors. SJCOSF volunteers installed numerous improvements - such as split rail fencing, picnic tables, watering trough, hitching post, and monument sign - and transformed this underused site into one that is usable and accessible for all.
 
Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park - Summer 2013
The Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park was built by SJCOSF volunteers on 2.5-acres in the city's northwest open space. The popular park features play areas for large and small dogs, as well as picnic tables, benches, shade structure, and an ADA access ramp.
 
Reata Park and Event Center - Spring 2014
SJCOSF volunteers transformed an 18-acre, weed-infested dirt lot in the eastern section of town into the award-winning Reata Park and Event Center. SJCOSF, with approval from the city, developed a plan that preserved the area's rustic beauty while making it accessible. The park features tree-lined walkways, scenic event spaces, and native plant landscaping. The native plant garden is one of the largest in California and requires minimal water and maintenance. SJCOSF volunteers donated more than 7,000 hours and gathered over $3 million in contributions from the community to make this dream a reality.
 
And this is just the beginning! With your generous support through membership and donations, we will continue to improve our open spaces so that they are accessible for all.

SJC Open Space Foundation Offers to Build Safety Fence on Popular Trail

The popular San Juan Creek trail attracts a steady stream of residents and visitors daily. The multi-use trail extends from the beach in Dana Point to the hills east of San Juan Capistrano, offering beautiful scenery and easy access between the two cities.
 
The final 1,000-foot section of the trail was completed in 2016 by Davidson Communities, the developer of the Oaks Farms neighborhood off of Ortega Highway, as a condition of the development's approval by the San Juan Capistrano City Council. The extension was designed to accommodate bicyclists and walkers on the paved north side of the trail, and equestrians on the unpaved south side. The city council initially required that a split rail fence be built between the paved and unpaved portions to increase safety for trail users. However, it did not require the developer to build this needed fence.
 
The SJC Open Space Foundation learned of this need and sent a proposal to the city offering to construct the fence using volunteer labor and the city's fence materials. The volunteer labor would be offered at no cost, saving the City of San Juan Capistrano an estimated $15,000-$20,000.
 
The proposal has been presented at previous city council meetings, but a decision has not been reached. We hope that the city council will vote to move forward on our proposal to improve the trail's safety and save a substantial amount of city funds.

City Honors SJC Open Space Foundation President Brad Gates
 
SJC Open Space Foundation President Brad Gates was given the Mayor's Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2018. Mayor Sergio Farias, who presented the award, delivered a speech that outlined Brad's long history of service to Orange County and San Juan Capistrano. 

Mayor Farias remarked, "Brad, as a longtime resident of San Juan Capistrano, you have given so much to our community. We were so fortunate to have you as our Sheriff, and we are so fortunate to have you as a resident who cares so much in preserving our city's history and protecting our open space and equestrian lifestyle."

Congratulations Brad on this well-deserved honor!
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