San Juan residents on mission for state lot access

The city of San Juan Bautista is trying to gain access to the open field located along 3rd Street in downtown. Photo by Nick Lovejoy

Some Mission City residents are on a mission: To gain control of a central downtown plot owned by the state and often off limits for the public.
Locals are mounting an organized effort to convince the state to hand over access to the Orchard Garden lot along Third Street. The open lot, enclosed by low adobe walls, includes an entrance point at Third and Mariposa streets.
It has been used for some events through the years, but local residents have contended the public should get more access to it. They took their message to the San Juan Bautista City Council at last week’s regular meeting. San Juan council members unanimously supported a resolution to urge the state to engage in talks on possibly handing over the lot in the center of the tourist-friendly downtown.
City Manager Roger Grimsley at last week’s council meeting noted how he and another city official a few months ago met with Assemblyman Luis Alejo and his assistant about the possibility of San Juan gaining more access to the site. The orchard garden lot is part of the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park facilities.
Grimsley mentioned how with San Juan being a tourist town, the spot could accommodate such activities as artistic or theatrical programs, or community-based family events.
Seven residents who spoke at last Tuesday’s council meeting supported opening dialogue with the state about the site.
“I think this is something you should be congratulated on, bringing it forward,” said Larry Cain, a former San Juan city manager. “We talked about it but we didn’t do it.”

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