It seems that there is a feeling among San Juan residents that the town has been out of control. We have chickens roaming the streets despite attempts to remove them, motorcycles screaming in and out of town, speakers blaring, making whatever noise they wish, large trucks drive on streets which sign proclaim to be off-limits to them, smokers concentrate, rather than disperse, their fumes on the sidewalks where other valued visitors feel unwelcome. Struggling businesses flaunt city rules that they feel are unfairly made. Business signs are haphazardly designed and set out despite their location in a Historic District, which itself is poorly defined and identified, historic buildings and their significance are rarely identified. Access to restrooms, though improved, is still not adequate. Directional signs are often ineffective, or non-existent.
Remember, this is our starting point, not our destination.
There is a possibility of San Juan losing it’s strong suit in it’s struggle to be seen as a viable destination for the visitors we compete to attract. We have the ingredients for an effective future providing visitors with a memorable experience (beyond the motorcycles and smoking!). We have the beginnings of a Historical Plan for the city, we have the Design Charrette which was done several years ago which had a specific possibility to the historic downtown. We seem to lack the focus, will, and cohesion to move the ideas along.
Our Historical Review Board and the San Juan Bautista Historical Society might be occupied working to identify and communicate the value of the buildings and historical sites in San Juan, which might be actually accomplished by one or all of the Service Clubs, Rotary, the Native Daughters, etc. This might provide some new enthusiasm and volunteers.
The San Juan Committee is working with the city as an interface between businesses to fill the void left by the overburdened City Manager who has been doing a great job (actually, several great jobs!), to encourage businesses to cooperate and also to feel they have the ear of city government.
San Juan could be in a great position to attract visitors to our wonderful county if members of the community will step up and work together towards a shared vision.
Since we are in the same family with Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties we have to work extra hard. Their charms are readily apparent. We have natural beauty and a window into the world of 150 years ago. We also have a renegade streak that has given San Juan a reputation for not being able to play well with those from the outside.
We have a community of people who are well known for their willingness to step up and do the work when the work has been identified. I believe that many are simply waiting to be asked to participate.
The City Council is creating a committee which is representative of the community to create a Strategic Plan for San Juan Bautista, looking into the future. This is not to be a large committee, but it’s meetings will be posted and open to the public. The City Manager has been convening meetings to create a Five Year Capital Plan to determine what projects the City should be looking at to accomplish in the next five years.
Anyone interested in participating in either of these, please contact City Hall. Councilmember Rick Edge for the the Strategic Plan Committee and City Manager Roger Grimsley for the Five Year Capital Plan.
Citizen participation is essential for these attempts to give direction to the future of our community. San Juan Rotary, The Native Daughters, the San Juan Service Club, The Masons, the Library Auxiliary, Volunteer Fire Department and it’s Auxiliary, are all vehicles to achieve the quality of life we wish to increase here in our beloved city.
We are at a starting point!
In San Juan . . . we wave!