Capistrano Beach : San Clemente’s Grasp Loosened by Commission

About 50 residents applauded Wednesday as a county agency released a large swath of the community’s territory from the “sphere of influence” of San Clemente.

The unanimous vote of the Local Agency Formation Commission represented a moral victory for Capistrano Beach residents, who have been trying to wriggle free of San Clemente for years.

An 80-acre stretch of Capistrano Beach was placed under San Clemente’s sphere in 1973. Such placement is one of the first steps toward a city’s annexation of an unincorporated area.

Capistrano Beach residents were concerned about numerous San Clemente annexations of their community’s territory since 1959. Although most occurred during the 1960s, they said a 3.3-acre annexation by San Clemente last year was just three acres too many.


“Removing ourselves from San Clemente’s influence was the only way to keep the city from chipping away at our land,” said Barbara McCarthy, secretary of the Capistrano Beach Community Assn.

At the hearing Wednesday, McCarthy told commission members there is virtually no support in Capistrano Beach for remaining in San Clemente’s sphere.

“We held a meeting of 200 people at a school last month, and asked if anyone wanted to stay in San Clemente’s sphere. Not a single hand was raised,” she said.

The area’s 800 to 900 residents may still by subject to annexation by San Clemente or other cities, however, according to Richard Turner, the formation commission’s executive officer. He said a city must simply jump over more hurdles to attempt annexation if it holds no sphere of influence over an unincorporated area.


At the hearing, San Clemente’s director of community development, Harry Weinroth, said the city currently plans to file for annexation of two more acres of Capistrano Beach, an action he said was requested by property owners there.

“The city believes it should retain the area, since it has been under its sphere of influence for a number of years,” he told the commission.

San Clemente city officials could not be reached for comment after the hearing.