Monthly Archives: February 2016

New Way to Get Yourself Into an HGTV Fixer Upper House

Have you ever watched a Fixer Upper reveal and fantasized about what it would be like to live in the house? Now you can find out! A couple of former Fixer Upper homes are now available as vacation rentals on For about $380 a night, you can get cozy in the charming 1930s house from season 3 or soak up the Mad Men vibes in the mid-century modern house from season 2, which Joanna described as her favorite reno of all time! Check out the dreamy rentals below, buy a flight to Waco, and then start planning your HGTV dream vacation, complete with visits to Baylor University and Magnolia Market!

San Clemente considers more limits on vacation rentals

A spike in vacation rentals near the coast is leading San Clemente to look at permitting the businesses in designated visitor-serving districts, while limiting them elsewhere to owner-occupied properties.

City planning commissioners, at the direction of the City Council, have been meeting weekly to draft a proposed zoning ordinance governing vacation rentals. The concept discussed Wednesday night could remove many of the vacation rentals now operating in residential neighborhoods, leaving only ones that are owner-occupied.

The commission will meet again next week – 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall – to consider sending a recommendation to the City Council, which could take it up March 15.

Commissioners’ consensus so far is to permit vacation rentals in four designated visitor-serving parts of town — the Pier Bowl area, portions of downtown that allow mixed-use buildings, a section of North Beach and a strip of buildings along El Camino Real at the south end of town.

Elsewhere, existing short-term rentals would be required to shut down two years after adoption of the new zoning code, except for owner-occupied ones. Those would be governed by rules yet to be defined. The commission also is looking at imposing density caps. Parking requirements could affect the potential for vacation rentals as well.

San Clemente, like other Orange County cities, is seeing a proliferation of residential properties, many of them bought up by investors who turn homes or apartments into vacation rentals. The industry is flourishing with worldwide online marketing.

Besides investors, some locals have opened their homes or apartments as short-term rentals, either for profit or to supplement their retirement. Some, on limited incomes, say that short-term rentals pay the mortgage and keep them in their home.

San Clemente has 440 permitted vacation rentals, 193 of which opened in 2015, the city said. Neighbors of some have complained about overcrowding, partying, noise, parking impacts and loss of the quality of life.

Owners of vacation rentals say they are only a small fraction of total dwellings in the city and the vast majority are good neighbors, contributing to the local economy. They say the city should focus on weeding out the few problem ones before imposing restrictions or a ban.

The City Council, on a 3-1 vote on Feb. 2, set ground rules on the operation of vacation rentals. In addition, all owners must apply for a yearly permit, and existing vacation rentals can stay for now but will be subject to any new zoning restrictions the City Council introduces in March.

“The City Council is putting in all sorts of ironclad rules on parties, noises, parking, everything you could imagine to squelch these party houses …,” said local resident Jim Bieber, who has two vacation rental properties. “Why don’t we let this process and the free market run its course, clamp down on the bad people, which the City Council has done, and revisit this issue to see if we’ve resolved it … ?”

“Ironclad rules don’t work,” local resident Jim Laurent told commissioners. He said he lives next to a virtual hotel, and the city is settling a lawsuit with his neighbor, limiting occupancy to 10. “But that’s overnight occupancy,” he said. “Guests are OK. So I could still have the potential, like I’ve seen in the past, of 20-plus people in the backyard of this property until our city has the 10 o’clock shut-off, which a lot of times goes past that, and all day long.”

Planning commissioners and city staff are drawing up zoning standards such as parking, trash bins, “quiet hours,” yearly limits on rental activity, a permit process and two-year amortization of rental units to be phased out.

Contact the writer:

City leaders are looking to tighten regulations for vacation rentals

Check the San Clemente Vacation Homes for Rent here.

Some residents complained to the City Council on Tuesday night about “party houses,” where noise and parking are issues. Others said the majority of vacation rentals are well run and boost the economy, so the council should just go after the few bad ones with nuisance codes.

“It would devastate us not to be able to rent our property to make some money in our retirement,” Karen Kasa told the council. “That’s why we bought it and why we take such good care of it. I have never had any problems.”

Janice Kraus said she has problems in the summer with two units across the street from her house.

“You get 10 to 15 people in these two-bedroom units,” she told the council. “They have stereos placed outside. … They’re drinking, they’re barbecuing and having a good time. But they’re very loud.”

The council voted 3-1 to introduce an ordinance that requires owners to get a short-term rental permit yearly. It would set ground rules, including making the owner responsible for unreasonable noise, disturbances or disorderly conduct; occupancy limits and parking requirements.

Like other Orange County cities experiencing an explosion of homes that convert to vacation rentals and market themselves worldwide online, San Clemente has 440 permitted short-term rentals. Most are in long-established residential neighborhoods along the coast. Officials said 193 new ones opened in 2015 alone.

The 440 can stay, the City Council decided. But anyone applying for a permit for a new one between now and March 15 has no assurance the vacation rental will be allowed. That’s when the ordinance could take effect and city planning commissioners are scheduled to present the City Council with recommended zoning controls.

Those might include anything from no limitations on vacation rentals to spacing requirements to a ban on new ones or a cap.

“We want a cap … we don’t want 200 more,” Councilwoman Kathy Ward said.

Councilwoman Lori Donchak voted against the ordinance, saying she strongly supports common sense rules but opposes a virtual freeze on new permits and wanted the Planning Commission to have a full range of options.

“This is too far, too fast,” she said.

Councilman Tim Brown did not participate, as his wife works in real estate.

If the ordinance gets final council approval on Feb. 16, it would take effect 30 days later.

The City Council, which had decided at an earlier meeting to look into placing the vacation rentals issue on the November ballot, decided against that Tuesday. Council members did say they might ask voters to increase the 10-percent tourist tax that hotels and short-term rentals pay the city.

Check the San Clemente Vacation Homes for Rent here.

Contact the writer: or 949-492-5127

San Clemente has earned a well deserved reputation as the resort beach town in Orange County



San Clemente has earned a well deserved reputation as the resort beach town in Orange County. Long, white sandy strands invite you to take slow sunset strolls. But beautiful beaches and 342 days of sunshine a year are only part of the appeal that makes people want to call San Clemente home.

San Clemente is experiencing a quiet renaissance. Newcomers and long-time residents alike are taking care to preserve and revitalize the timeless charm that makes San Clemente such an attractive place to own a Southern California home. You are personally invited to live life at a slower, more considered pace – which is exactly what Ole Hanson had in mind when he founded San Clemente in 1925.

Ole wrote, "I envision a place where people can live together more pleasantly than in any other place in America." San Clemente still embodies this vision.

The heart of Ole's "Spanish village by the sea" still beats true, and downtown, with its antique shops, boutiques, art galleries and outdoor cafes, is the cultural soul. Friends and neighbors stop to chat as they stroll along the palm-lined sidewalks of Avenida Del Mar. The weekly farmers market and monthly crafts fair draw residents and visitors from all over Orange County and Southern California. Great events and wonderful people is what San Clemente is all about.

At water's edge, you'll find the crown jewel of Avenida Del Mar, the San Clemente Pier. Surrounded by hotels and outdoor cafes and bistros, the pier has lured locals and fishermen since 1928. It is also the gathering place for some of San Clemente's best-loved traditions like the annual clam chowder cook-off and the Ocean Festival.

San Clemente's Avenida Del Mar is a dream come true for antique and art lovers, with numerous galleries, antique and collectibles shops dotting the street. Gift and jewelry shops, book stores, clothing boutiques and surf shops offer enough variety to please even the most discriminating shopper.

The newly remodeled Casa Romantica is a cultural, educational, and social center for the San Clemente community.

Widely acclaimed for its innovative educational programs, the Capistrano Unified School District serves the City of San Clemente. Five of the district schools have been recipients of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program and 17 schools in the district have been designated as California Distinguished Schools.

Residents have access to both public and private schools. Among the public schools currently serving our community are Vista del Mar, serving grades K-8, Clarence Lobo Elementary School, which provides preschool through grade 5 education, Bernice Ayer Middle School, serving grades 6 through 8, and San Clemente High School, which now serves 2,400 students from San Clemente, Capistrano Beach and portions of San Juan Capistrano. The private schools accessible to residents of San Clemente include Our Savior's Lutheran School, St. Michael's Academy and Our Lady of Fatima School.

San Clemente Hospital and Medical Center has served south Orange County for over 25 years. Focusing on building a healthier community and continuing to expand services in response to needs of residents, the hospital's mission is to provide high quality, personalized care in a cost effective manner. The hospital has received the distinction of "Accreditation with Commendation," the highest level of accreditation a hospital can receive for outstanding patient care.

San Clemente is conveniently located off the I -5 Freeway. Quick and easy access to other Southern California destinations is also made possible by the nearby San Joaquin Transportation Corridor (73).

San Clemente residents who commute to Los Angeles can relax or catch up on work while riding the rails of Metrolink. Traveling at an average speed of 50 miles per hour, Metrolink's Orange County train service runs from Oceanside through Orange County to Los Angeles' Union Station, and stops at ten train stations along the way, including San Clemente.

San Clemente is just 30 minutes from John Wayne Airport in Newport Beach and less than an hour from San Diego International Airport.

One of our favorite things to do is to stop at the pier on our way through San Clemente

A few miles north from San Clemente State Beach is the pier area, a part of San Clemente that attracts visitors and locals alike. If you're looking for a weekend getaway, this may well be the spot with its charming village-like atmosphere where you can dine in sidewalk cafes, visit the local market or walk out on the pier for some great views of the surfers and the entire coast. A number of lodgings are available in this area, many with spectacular views of the ocean and pier area.

One of our favorite things to do is to stop at the pier on our way through San Clemente. It's just a little over a mile from the freeway and it's a rewarding mini-getaway just to drop in at Fisherman's Restaurant on the pier and enjoy fresh fish and a microbrew while basking in the sun and soaking up the seaside atmosphere. On a recent weekend, the restaurant's considerable outdoor seating was fully occupied through most of the afternoon, a sign that we're not the only ones who have discovered this delightful seaside respite.

Whether over nighting or day tripping in San Clemente, one of the first things you notice is the Spanish street names. Not uncommon in California, the San Clemente city fathers have taken it one step further with a kind of prohibition against any street name that does not look or sound Spanish. But all of that just adds to the charm and blends well with the Spanish architecture that is so dominant along the gently sloping hillsides of San Clemente.

Come to find out, the Spanish feel of San Clemente is quite intentional and was brought to the city not by some Spanish conquistador, but rather by the former mayor of Seattle. Ole Hanson founded the "Spanish Village by the Sea" way back in 1925 with strict guidelines that called for Spanish colonial architecture with red tile roofs and white plaster. In other words, Hanson proposed a theme town before theme towns were cool.

The town retains a historical flavor and visitors are encouraged to see remnants of the original "Spanish Village by the Sea." The former City Hall is now an antique gallery. Casa Romantica was Hanson's own Spanish compound that he lost in the stock market crash of 1929; it is now owned by the city. A San Clemente visitor center and museum offers visitors a quick overview of the attractions they'll find in San Clemente.

Another thing that becomes obvious is that there are few streets in San Clemente that are straight. Because of the hilly and sloping topography, most roads weave through and around the hills, again adding a special kind of Mediterranean flavor to the town. It may be a little harder to find your way from Point A to Point B, but you will enjoy the figuring out how to get there. And of course it's difficult to get truly lost when the ocean is visible from just about anyplace in town.

While in San Clemente, you'll want to stroll down Avenida Del Mar, where you'll find a wide assortment of shops in a lushly landscaped setting. This is not some famous shopping district with designer stores and celebrities; rather it's Main Street USA with the kind of shopping you might find in your hometown — a varied collection of shops, boutiques, antique stores, galleries and sidewalk cafes. It's a fun place to spend a little bit of your San Clemente getaway.

San Clemente is an ideal day trip for Southern California residents, but it's also an excellent base of operations for those coming from farther away. There are close to 20 different lodgings to choose from, ranging from bed-and-breakfast inns to motor inns to seaside condos. If you base in San Clemente, you'll find many attractions are located within a short drive from the city. For example, Dana Point, once the only major harbor between San Diego and Santa Barbara , is just north of the city.

The same harbor that attracted those earlier mariners is still very much a port of call, but leaning more toward pleasure craft with its 2,500 slips that are usually occupied with a wide selection of expensive yachts and small boats that would make any boat show proud. The Dana Point Marina, of course, becomes the centerpiece to the area and the focus of pictures and paintings that are readily available in local gift shops.

The Dana Point Marina is not just a bunch of boats. A whole village has grown up dockside to offer tourists shopping and places to enjoy lunch or dinner. Some 25 shops and 20 restaurants are open in Dana Wharf, Mariners Village and Mariners Alley. But the boats are a big part of its fun — it's great strolling along the docks, daydreaming about owning one of these beautiful craft.

San Juan Capistrano is close by as well and it's easy to drive from San Clemente to the famous Mission at San Juan Capistrano where you can tour the picturesque grounds. Just a bit farther up the coast is Laguna, where you'll find great shopping, a vibrant arts community and Orange County chic.

Nixon did indeed know what he was doing when he set up his Western White House in San Clemente. It's about as far away from the pressures of Washington politics as a president can get.

The International Feel of San Clemente

Those driving south on Interstate 5 to San Diego will know exactly what we mean when we say there just is no more spectacular ocean view than the one you encounter while making your way through San Clemente. On a clear, sunny day, and most of them are, it's hard to keep your eyes on the road as you take in a landscape that includes San Clemente's neatly terraced, palm tree-studded hills and the vast blue ocean with its distant horizon.

These very same views no doubt influenced Richard Nixon in his decision to buy an estate in San Clemente that would become the Western White House during the early 1970s. The president would have Air Force One land at El Toro and then take a Marine helicopter to a San Clemente beach area where he would ride a golf cart the final few yards to his prized estate, La Casa Pacifica.

Today the estate still is there on a bluff overlooking one of California's most pristine beaches, but it's really only possible to get a glimpse of parts of it from the beach below. Just to get in position to view La Casa Pacifica, it's a mile-and-a-half walk from the nearest beach access point at San Clemente State Beach. But what a great mile and a half it is.

The beach, to us, is one of the main attractions of San Clemente — it's possible to walk five miles altogether on a beach that is wide, scenic and, best of all, hardly used. There is no stumbling over other beach-goers as you search for some solitude among the masses. At this beach, there is nothing but solitude along great stretches of sparkling sand where you can plop down anywhere you like, set up your blanket, chairs and cooler and pretend that you're Robinson Crusoe for at least the afternoon.

There of course is a good representation of surfers on any given day along this beach; this is prime territory for those in search of consistent waves. Boogie-boarders too are drawn to the beach to ride a curling surf that, in some places, offers a thrill a minute. But most of the people you see here are simply beach-walkers, enjoying a gentle stroll on wide sand that seems to go on forever.


The opening of Outlets at San Clemente in November will bring high-end outlet shopping to this quaint beach city.

Outlets at San Clemente will offer both an impressive shopping experience and an incredible ocean view from the plaza which will overlook the North Beach oceanfront on the beautiful San Clemente coastline. Phase 1 will open 325,000 square feet of shopping to customers on November 12th, 2015. Orange County's newest outlet shopping center will eventually include over 70 stores spanning across 500,000 square feet in the outdoor shopping center. The San Clemente outlet mall will be one of the largest and most impressive malls in South Orange County spanning the entire distance between the Vista Hermosa and Avenida Pico exits along the I5 freeway. A selection of high-end restaurants will make Outlets at San Clemente into a complete destination for Southern California residents.

The Outlets at San Clemente will offer the beach cities and south Orange County plenty of shopping options from many popular brands and high-end retailers including Adidas, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Nike, Sunglasses Hut, Under Armor and many more. 

  • Asics
  • Bass Factory Outlet
  • Calvin Klein
  • Carter’s
  • Chico’s Outlet
  • Clarks Outlet
  • Cole Haan
  • Columbia Sportswear Company
  • Converse
  • Daisy Shoppe
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Guess Factory Store
  • H&M
  • Hanesbrands
  • Levi’s Outlet Store
  • New Balance Factory Store
  • Nike Factory Store
  • Osh Kosh B’gosh
  • Papaya
  • Perfumania
  • Planet Beauty
  • Skechers
  • Sun Diego Boardshops
  • Sunglass Hut
  • Swarovski
  • The PUMA Outlet Store
  • Tillys
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Under Armour
  • Van Heusen
  • Vans
  • White House | Black Market


Seeks funds for San Clemente summer trolley

• Last year, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point launched free summer trolleys funded by OCTA grants.

• Dana Point's trolley connects with Laguna Beach's longstanding free trolley.

• San Juan Capistrano is seeking an OCTA grant for a new route this summer that would connect to Dana Point's trolley and, thereby, to Laguna's.

• San Clemente council members, who agreed Tuesday to seek OCTA funds for a core trolley route in San Clemente, did not give any indication if or when they might support extending it north to connect with Dana Point's.

• Such a connection would bring visitors into San Clemente and let San Clemente residents ride free to Dana Point, San Juan and Laguna Beach.

City Councilwoman Lori Donchak, who serves on the OCTA board, said 18 cities are competing for trolley grants as OCTA is rearranging bus routes to boost ridership and is planning service cuts in some low-ridership areas. A proposal to eliminate resident-serving San Clemente Routes 191 and 193 will be up for an OCTA board vote Monday at 9 a.m. at OCTA headquarters in Orange.

Brenda Miller, a San Clemente mobility advocate, told the council it doesn’t matter what mix of riders boards the trolleys. “This kind of trolley, I think, benefits residents even if residents don’t use it,” Miller said. She said the last thing residents want is for all the people using San Clemente’s outlet mall to get in their cars and drive to North Beach, downtown or the pier.

“They’re going to want to come to the ocean,” Miller said. “With a trolley like this, they don’t have to get in their car, clog up our parking lots, clog up our roadways, and the people who arrive by Metrolink have an opportunity to take a trolley and see the rest of San Clemente instead of being trapped there at the pier or in North Beach.”

Hamm said the Outlets, which opened in November, is “taking a dive,” not meeting projections, and the trolley should serve residents, not focus on business destinations. He suggested a route inland to Talega and Forster Ranch. City Councilwoman Kathy Ward wanted a route to the south end of town via El Camino Real so residents there can access the trolley.

Artwork brightens 5 street corners in San Clemente

Five San Clemente street corners have a fresh splash of color, thanks to the city’s 2013 public-art program.

On Sunday, artists selected by a jury from the city and the San Clemente Art Association put finishing touches on traffic-signal controller boxes. The public artworks are in addition to five boxes dressed up a year ago in the city’s inaugural effort to brighten up the otherwise drab utilities.

We asked this year’s artists (by location of the boxes) about what inspired their artwork:

• Camino de los Mares (entrance to San Clemente Villas): “In Flight,” by Regina Hurley. “I watch the birds a lot. And then we went on a whale-watching trip and saw a lot of dolphins and we did see a whale. I began sketching with the birds … then went into the idea of them transitioning from dolphins into birds. They are abstract forms, so it leads to the imagination, as well as the spirit of it.”

• Calle del Cerro (lower intersection with Avenida Vista Montana): “Sunset at Trestles,” by Ashley Keene. “I’ve lived around here my whole life and I go down to walks at the pier and the beach. I just love painting at the beach. It just seemed like the perfect sketch to do … it’s just that peacefulness. It’s Trestles, or the Cotton’s Point area.”

• Avenida Pico (at Calle del Cerro): “Sunset Dinner,” by Mike Ravetti. “The city wanted to have something that is unique about San Clemente. When I thought about the sunset and the pier and bright color and just kind of that relaxed feel, the pelican that I thought would be a great idea with the sunset and the pier in the background.

• Avenida Palizada (at Avenida de la Estrella): “SC Classic View,” by Meghann Nelsen. “The Classic Car Show is one of my favorite events in San Clemente. The pier and the sunset is another classic scene from San Clemente. So I just combined some of my favorite scenes.”

• El Camino Real (at Avenida Mariposa): “Buried in Nature,” by Josh Barnes. “I’ve just grown up in San Clemente. Growing up as a kid, I remember seeing VW bugs with the surfboards on top and I just loved it.”


It will be up to the City Council to decide whether to fund another round of the street-art program next year. This year’s was budgeted at $5,500.

“I sure hope we do more next year,” Councilwoman Lori Donchak said. “It’s gotten a really great reaction. I cannot see why we would not do another round.”

Donchak was out interviewing the artists Sunday for an episode of “Around Town,” the city’s TV show. It could begin showing in three to four weeks on Cox cable Channel 3 and the city’s website