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KATHY ESFAHANI, Chair of the San Clemente Affordable Housing Coalition

Kudos for last week’s excellent article on the challenges to building affordable housing in San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. 

Yes, neighborhood opposition is always an obstacle, but “NIMBYism” can be defeated by educating opponents on who will live in the new affordable housing: hard-working families headed by nurses, small business owners, home health aides, artists, child care workers, retail workers and cooks.

These families already live in our community; they just pay way too much for rent, with little left over for food, medicines and other necessities.

The harder challenge to meet in getting affordable housing built in San Clemente is a distinct lack of political willon the part of our San Clemente City Council. So far, councilmembers have spurned the policies that other cities embrace to encourage development of affordable homes. 

For example, last year, the SC City Council refused to strengthen the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance—a highly effective tool used by other Orange County cities (e.g., Irvine, Laguna Beach) to produce affordable homes. 

And our City Council is refusing to donate any surplus city-owned land for affordable housing, unlike its neighbor, San Juan Capistrano. Your article cited SJC’s recent donation of two surplus properties—its former City Hall site and the Groves—to facilitate affordable housing there. Why can’t San Clemente do the same?

San Clemente needs strong action from our city leaders to encourage and facilitate the building of desperately needed lower-income affordable housing. Other cities are stepping up to the challenge. It’s time for us to do the same.

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