San Clemente: Where The Stepfords Totally Lose It

Almost exactly twelve years ago, these cheerful-looking Stepford Wives & Children were celebrating their non-individuality and neighborhood “sameness.”


“SAN CLEMENTE-On Optima, as on all the surrounding byways, there is no room for ostentatious individualism.

The houses in Richmond Pointe are neatly packed and hygienically Mediterranean. Strict codes prevent homeowners from adorning their places with nonconforming colors or add-ons, or parking cars in front of their own driveways. Each house has one of four floor plans.

But the neighbors who live behind the stucco facades say the exterior conformity has bestowed a special neighborhood-ness – a secure, tidy, friendly feel – upon their little community.

Check out the whole article, it’s a hearty helping of that old-time Orange County xenophobia. Whenever you find yourself thinking that “OC”-fueled satire like Weeds or The Real Housewives Of Orange County might be going too far, just remember that the reality is probably far stranger. At the very least, you need to know who you’re sharing the planet with.

If you had asked me back then what I thought would happen to these people, I probably would have shrugged out a “dunno” or two with a side commentary about repression exploding unexpectedly. Of course, the reality is indeed far stranger and San Clemente has it’s share of oddness. It’s the home of Richard Nixon’s Western White House, the setting for the movie Brick, and a place where the locals don’t want an In-N-Out.

The formerly peaceful neighbors have declared all-out war in a neo-Ballardrian spectacle of public namecalling, “abortion” graffiti, and gallons of human shit and rotting animal parts. The OC Register is back on the case.

SAN CLEMENTE – Rick Collins said his children were shunned at the beach and the word “Abortion” was splattered on his house when he added a second story.
Al Cullen said 10 gallons of human feces and rotting animal parts were thrown into his yard after he began circulating a petition to ban the addition of second stories in the Shorecliffs neighborhood.

The two are on opposite sides of a festering dispute in Shorecliffs that has pitted neighbor against neighbor, disrupted city government and spilled over into county Republican politics.

Jane Graff grew up in the community and she is raising her three children in Shorecliffs. Graff is active in the faction that wants to maintain one-story homes.

“I received a threatening e-mail; it said ‘we should settle this the old-fashioned way, out in the alley,” she said. “These are bullies.” She said the neighborhood had prided itself on neighbors respecting the ocean views of others.

Brian Opp said he recognized that his family was being shunned after he built a second story and supported others who wanted one.

“We’d invite all the children in the neighborhood to our children’s birthday parties, but all of a sudden, our children were never invited to the birthday parties of other children,” he said.

I guess this is where my greying O.C. roots start showing. My hometown of Laguna Beach has had a planning commission in place for years and for the most part it’s been pretty effective. Why screw up something that benefits everyone? If you don’t like it, don’t move there. Do your homework ahead of time and don’t be like this dumbass:

Tuesday Price moved into Shorecliffs in 2004. She said she found herself ostracized by “the clique at the beach” after she revealed she wanted to remodel her home.

“We spent $1 million on a 40-year-old home and then found out there wasn’t much we could do to improve it. We thought we had found our dream house, and we’re totally disillusioned that government can do this,” she said.

I suppose the best summation of this entire fiasco come from this political campaign manager (natch):

“As much as everyone appreciates an ocean view, there is no constitutional right to have one”

Translation: The world is ME ME ME, and my neighbors and everyone else can go hang. Pretty much the state of USA2006 if you ask me.

In case you were wondering if there was an old Indian burial ground that would helpfully suck all of these people into the Netherworld, there isn’t. However, there is radioactive water leaking from the nearby nuclear power plant. It all makes sense somehow.

About Chris Barrus

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6 Responses to San Clemente: Where The Stepfords Totally Lose It

  1. Jason says:

    Haha! I was just reading this the other day and thinking what a bunch of douchebags. Freaking narcistic entitled bastards. I love this neighborhood, now let me destroy it.

  2. That is one wild article. I enjoyed reading it and learning more about the city I live in…

  3. SCsurfer says:

    Jason and Chris,

    Its real easy to sit there and tell other people what they can and can’t do with their property until it the shoe lands on the other foot. When people start telling you what you CAN NOT do with your property.

    Learn the facts, the Price’s as well as everyone else in that neighborhood bought with the same rights, the ability to build to 25 feet. So the ME ME ME people that you are referring to are the ones that are taking about our ability to build so that they can permanetly have a view. They bought knowing the the house in front of them could build, then they try and change the law after the fact. Many of the people on the Preserve shorecliffs side already have two stories and want to take that away from their neighbor.

    Both of you are the ones who are “Name Calling”, which is typical of the Perserve Shorecliffs group. But then will turn around and say that we are bullies. Death threats, animal parts and feces, rose bushes being ripped out – those are all a bunch of lies. Why wouldn’t anyone have filed a police report? Why? because it didn’t happen.

    THe preserve shoreliffs people were offered a compromise of a discretionary approach, but shot it down as their mentality is not about neighborliness, its about THEM AND THEIR VIEW. If they were concerned about their neighbors then they would have opted for a middle ground but instead opted to take something away from their neighbor to gain something that they were never entitled to.

    I guess that when people resort to name calling they know that they are not just in their actions so they resort to mistruths to try and steer people emtionally.

  4. Chris Barrus says:


    Would you be as vitriolic about property rights if the tables were turned and someone tried to add a second story in front of your house? Otherwise, your argument is just a straw man – how do you know precisely what was going through the minds of people who bought houses. I’m not familiar with the demographics of the neighborhood, but you’re basically saying “screw the people who’ve been here for twenty or thirty years. It’s all about you and your view.”

  5. J. Stadtler says:

    I found an interesting case on the website Read it. From someone who has lived in this neighborhood, and who’s family still does, I think that there is a very basic principle to be followed here: if Homeowner A has the right to build up, then the same goes for Homeowner B. The bottom line is that half of the residents have built up already. Rules can not be changed after the fact, it only causes uproar (which is painfully obvious with the current state of the neighborhood.) Doesn’t seem all that complicated to me.

  6. Jocelyn says:

    It really is that simple. What’s even worse though is the way the city council did this behind the scenes. The outcome was pre-determined. IF they had applied this ordinance to everyone in Shorecliff’s it would have never made it this far. They knew that. Jim Cogan and Wayne Eggleston have tried to falsify that this is what the community wants but they have segregated a community. Not to mention from day one Cogan plotted this behind his other neighbors who thought this was about Bulk & Massing. He orchestrated behind the scenes saying DO NOT mention view protection from day one. He’s not a good man. Wayne Eggleston is even worse. He lies all the time. At least he recently was caught by a journalist. There was a successful referendum and the last card Cogan had was to sue the city. How low can you go?

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