Ortega - to Widen or Not to Widen; Readers Weigh In

                                          Letters to the Editor                                              

We received a number of emails about the letter and petition card mailed out to residents in SJC and surrounding communities, asking them to petition the SJC City Council to revisit the issue of widening Ortega Highway. Due to space limitations, we are only able to print a few of the letters below. Names have been withheld to protect privacy.           _____________________________________________________________

"By all means, stop the widening of Ortega. The Ranch and there friends need to stay out of trying to run our city (San Juan Capistrano). 

All they want is more homes and thus more dollars for there pockets. Let the Ranch find another way to get people into there new development, but not through widening Ortega." 

SJC resident


 "As a resident and homeowner in SJC for the last 9 years it is my opinion that we should not widen Ortega Hwy in San Juan Capistrano. Having been born and raised in Orange County… I have seen many cities improve for the better and worse. How could building high ugly retaining walls, increasing speed limits in a residential district be for the good of our city? 

Yes, I agree with SJC residents that widening Ortega Hwy will undoubtedly turn it into a freeway on-and-off ramp for the Ranch's new city. The retaining walls will be an eyesore, the speed will increase, there will be added pollution causing allergies and other illnesses, and the traffic noise will be unbearable. The worst part are the dangers that will be thrust on… residents that live 100 Feet or less from Ortega Hwy, as well as the surrounding area. The quality of life as we know it will be gone forever. It will be altered dramatically for the children that play in their backyards and front, the teens that are new drivers will be at risk learning to maneuver around the busy interstate. Lastly, the hard earned dollars the residents invested in their homes will be devalued and lost. Some homes may be destroyed to make way for the widening as well as businesses. It will cause a frenzy exodus of residents forcing home prices down.

Laguna Beach, San Clemente, and Dana Point, have kept 35 mile speed limit in their cities with no ugly retaining walls despite the tremendous traffic that flows through. These surrounding cities mentioned were desirable destinations back since their conception and for me as a teen in the 70's as they still are today. These cities put their residents first and the integrity of the city not monetary gain. Yes, there's tons of traffic in our city, but widening Ortega Hwy, building a high cement retaining wall won't alleviate the traffic. Widening Ortega will increase traffic bringing noise and pollution while the cars whizz though our town to the freeway." 

SJC resident

"I am absolutely AGAINST the widening of our beautiful Ortega Highway. I do not want more traffic, faster speeds, and especially a 25 ft. Sound wall! (Not to mention 14,000 additional homes, thousands of additional cars, and the traffic horrors that would be caused by the increases of semis, cement trucks, etc. to build said # of homes!) 

If County approval for 14,000 additional homes is DEPENDENT upon "adequate road capacity to handle the greatly increased traffic that will be generated" then let the Ranch spend their OWN money and put their arterial road at Avery or Junipero Serra or Stonehill. 

Ortega Highway and the adjacent residents already have been abused more than enough by the decision to let other cities use our dump. 

Add a signal, but do not widen!" 

30-year resident of San Juan Capistrano


 "As a long time San Juan resident, I am disappointed in the actions of those who want to try and shove more Ranch traffic down our collective throats. It makes no sense to widen the Ortega – it will only invite more traffic and will increase the speed limit, making it less safe – not more safe like the Ranch cronies claim. 

Then there’s the visual blight; why on earth should we turn what is now a scenic road into a freeway on and off ramp for new development that’s not even in our town? This makes no sense…" 

SJC resident
"I am all in favor of NOT widening the Ortega. I feel the Ranch should provide an alternate route (near/at Avery Pkwy) since they are adding a huge number of homes, more than even a wider Ortega could handle. 

I've lived in SJC for over 20 years and while I can accept growth, I also feel developers should provide services to and for their new developments without restructuring current residents sense of community. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my concern and opinion." 

SJC Resident


"I saw your article regarding letters being sent out for the Ortega Widening. It brought many issues up beyond the widening of the road and I appreciate the information provided. I can definitely understand the opposition to it. My point is only related to the safety of the single lane portion of Ortega. 

It is unsafe as it currently stands. I live off of Ortega Highway on this stretch of road. There’s a blind corner as Ortega drivers enter SJC from the wide, fast Ortega/Antonio intersection and these drivers don’t slow down! Whenever I make a right turn onto Ortega, I have an eye glued to my rearview hoping that the person behind me will slow down in time! It actually makes me thankful of the heavy trucks that travel on Ortega, as they generally move slower and provide the space needed to safely turn into Ortega. However, there’s still plenty of commuter traffic that makes dangerous. It definitely stresses out my wife! She mentioned how a driver even saw her getting ready to make the right turn and they sped up. I know that people are busy and want to get somewhere in a hurry, but this transition area from Ortega/ Antonio to SJC is a public safety hazard. 

Even the speed limits don’t make sense. This single lane stretch is 45 mph, with no shoulders and many residential intersections. However, when you approach La Novia, where the road is double lane, with wide shoulders, sideways and plenty of visibility, the limit drops to 40 mph! 

Forget about making a left turn - it’s an impossibility during most of the daytime. We live so close to San Juan Hills HS but this inability to make a simple turn due to high traffic, high speeds and low visibility make the neighborhood school feel like it’s in another city. 

So, it’s with some bewilderment when I read that some people don’t consider this a safety issue. My wife and I face this several times a day. I’m not commenting on whether widening is the solution, but something has to be done as it’s just a matter of time before an accident does occur." 

 SJC resident





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