The City Council has voted to support a nearly 10-year-old effort by Capistrano Beach residents to reroute out of their neighborhood three bus lines they consider noisy and underused.
The council voted unanimously last week to ask the Orange County Transportation Agency to eliminate portions of bus routes 1, 85 and 91 that run from Doheny Park Road through Capistrano Beach to the K mart Plaza on Camino de Estrella in San Clemente. Under the proposal offered by the council, a Route 394 minibus would shuttle passengers from a stop on Domingo Avenue, east of Doheny Park Road, to the plaza.
Most of the nearly 100 residents present believe the minibus would solve the noise and pollution problems caused by the large Orange County Transportation District buses rumbling through their neighborhood 156 times a day, from 5 a.m. until nightfall.
"The basic issue is the large buses in a two-lane residential area," said Capistrano Beach resident Mike Reed, one of the leaders of the neighborhood drive.
"They are big, smelly, noisy buses that go up and down Camino Capistrano practically empty," Reed said in an interview before the meeting. "Some people I know have put double windows in their homes because they are so noisy. If the buses were used, people would feel differently. But all we see is one or two heads in the bus windows."
Reed said he noticed the problem "eight or nine years ago" but, after spending $8,000 for double-paned windows in his own home, he stepped up his lobbying efforts last summer by circulating a petition throughout the neighborhood.
The council, with Councilwoman Eileen Krause absent, agreed. Councilwoman Judy Curreri called it a "win-win" proposal and Mayor Mike Eggers termed it a "very logical plan."
"When you think about it, 156 times a day does seem kind of scary," Eggers said. "This seems like a good way to solve the problem for everyone."
Before the plan goes into effect, both the San Clemente City Council and OCTA must approve the new routes.
Judith McCourt, OCTA's manager of commute management services, said the transportation agency's board will not act to change the routes until it sees a formal proposal agreed upon by both the Dana Point and San Clemente city councils. She said the city of San Clemente has begun a study of who uses the K mart Plaza bus station and why.
"We will do everything in our power to implement what both communities request," McCourt said. The San Clemente study should be complete in two weeks, she added.