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Juan the Dinosaur Closer to Extinction

San Juan Planning Commission rejects Zoomars' appeal to keep the creature.

moved a step closer to extinction Tuesday when the city's Planning Commission unanimously rejected an appeal by owner Carolyn Franks to preserve the giant statue.

Franks now has until Aug. 29 to appeal to the City Council.

After she made her pitch to the Planning Commission, 14 locals also weighed in.

Jacque Nunez, a ninth-generation Los Rios descendent and longtime teacher, said the dinosaur would help educate children about history before San Juan came into being. 

“The Mission [San Juan Capistrano] is not where history began,” she said.

James Schuler, a Dana Point resident, argued that the dinosaur didn't disrupt the neighborhood's historical theme because it cannot be seen from most of . 

“The zoo seems to be separate from the Los Rios District,” he said.

Schuler, who has written songs about San Juan Capistrano, even offered up a poem in support of the prehistoric creature: “It came in anticipation, to see it is a must. It came over the mountain, the ‘dinosaurus.' "

Artist Art Guevara showed commissioners his painting of the dinosaur and said: “We are humans first and I think we should behave as ones. The look on the children’s faces when they see the dinosaur for the first time never wears off.”

And resident Dusty Otero praised Franks as "a wonderful neighbor [who] has not only a financial investment but a personal lifetime commitment to the zoo.”

Others offered written support for Franks' quest.

“The benefits of the dinosaur -- helping a local business be more profitable and attract tourists who can enjoy ALL of the wonderful qualities of San Juan Capistrano and Los Rios -- far outweigh the negatives in this case,” Mark Bodenhamer, CEO/President of the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, said in an email to commission chair Sheldon Cohen. 

Arguments against the dinosaur

But other residents and members of the said allowing the dinosaur to stay would set a precedent for future violations of the Los Rios Specific Plan.

In an email to Patch, Jerry Nieblas, president of the , said: “Zoomars' actions and responses cause us great concern - the bottom line is that Zoomars knowingly violated city policies and procedures. ... San Juan Capistrano's rich history is not to be compromised."

At the meeting, Nieblas told commissioners: “I get many people coming into the adobe, and I ask them what brings them back," he said. "They come back to escape."

Lorie Porter, who gives historical tours of Los Rios District, said most visitors come to the area "to see how life was like in the old days.”

Dana Point resident Linda Ivanov recommended the dinosaur be donated to the Dinosaur Park in Laguna Hills.

Ilse Byrnes, who helped draft the Los Rios Specific Plan, said Franks "really hasn’t paid much attention to preserving the history of the Los Rios District at all.”

Commissioners sided with the dinosaur critics.

“Obviously this has become an emotional discussion in the community and there have been good arguments on both sides. Regardless of how I feel about the dinosaur ... I can't disregard the provisions of the Los Rios Specific Plan,” Commissioner Jeff Parkhurst said.

Vice chair Gene Ratcliffe agreed, saying, “Kids have always loved [the area], pre-dinosaur, post-dinosaur. We don't have the latitude in this case with the current specific plan language to rescind the decision [against the dinosaur].”

Sensing dinosaur doom, artist Guevara said he would create more dinosaur paintings and "make a book for the kids so they can remember the dinosaur while it was here.”

Tamara August 17, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The Zoo is separate from the "Adult Los Rios district area" and attracts children who want to see animals, ride the small train, play in the corn pile and now stare in amazement at how large a Dinosaur was back in the Jurassic period. Its an educational play place for children and not really a historic site for adults to hang out or tour if they don't have children with them. Los Rios District has many other Historic features for adults to enjoy and restaurants to dine at and enjoy coffee, tea and the sound of birds chirping or the train passing through. Do the adults who oppose "Juan's Presence" spend anytime enjoying what the zoo has to offer or are they just trying to make a point by following the rules and red tape.....Maybe they should take their grand children to the zoo and let them have a vote before they make such a harsh decision to get rid of something so incredibly amazing and educational.
Clint Worthington August 17, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Thank City Council Member Sam Allevato for that idiotic railroad crossing. He voted for each and every time for that railroad crossing. The four other City Council Members that voted for it are gone or will be gone. Please make sure Sam Allevato does not get re-elected.
Laura Gomeso August 18, 2012 at 05:20 AM
I vote for Juan!
Eric Thomas August 20, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I really think that Frank's knew exactly what she was doing when she had this delivered, knowingly violated city policies and procedures. Stay with the program
Art Guevara August 21, 2012 at 09:56 PM
To all our friends and residents of our beautiful San Juan Capistrano For the last 18 years I have seen everything and heard everything in Capistrano Merchants come and merchants go with empty pockets, knowing that their expectations of making the most money in our city didn’t materialize and they end up penny less no savings no business No Nothing, completely broke. The life time of a business in our town is about 8 months; most of our residents shop out side our city. And when some one is making it with tons of sacrifices even bringing a Dinosaur in to our town to make end met and to bring happiness to our children we don’t want it. Yes she didn’t follow the legal process because of time, but what is time when you are happy at that moment everything stops and that exactly what we should do, stop and smell the Roses. Let Carolyn Franks keep Apatos let the children be children and the adults that never grow up to be children again. Let’s Put It To Vote Human Rights Advocate

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