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.”