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.