Originally posted at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 28, 2013.
As an engaged couple, Jeff O’Malley and Suzanne Hilford had a lot of planning to do – and initially, coming before the San Juan Capistrano Planning Commission wasn’t one of the tasks on the to-do list.
They had to find a house where they would build their new lives. They chose Campanilla, one of the two new developments in San Juan. And they had to plan a wedding and a reception. They decided the reception would be in their Tuscany-themed courtyard of their new home.
While the whole development has a Mediterranean flare, the stone archway that makes up their personal portico, or entry into their courtyard, gives it a particular Tuscan flare.
There was only one problem: The city was demanding it come down.
In constructing the 132 detached condominiums, developer Taylor Morrison of Scottsdale, Ariz. built two porticos “not consistent with approvals by the city,” according to a staff report the Planning Commission reviewed Tuesday.
The future O’Malleys and the couple who owns the house with the other illicit portico joined Taylro Morrison rep April Tornillo Tuesday to ask the commissioners approve the porticos anyway.
“I grew up in San Luis Obispo, which is a fellow mission city,” said Hilford. The couple chose San Juan Capistrano purposefully.
“This arch, it sounds cheesy, is reminiscent of the mission architecture,” she said.
Fiancé O’Malley said they planned the landscaping in their yard around the theme of the arched portico.
“We enjoy the character and style of San Juan Capistrano and really want to be part of your community,” he said.
The couple has already moved in. They provided photos of themselves in front of their home when it was under construction and their dog sleeping in the shadow of the arch.
Tornillo said the two arches – near the model homes and inside a gated community – are consistent with other porticos in the neighborhood, even if slightly more massive.
“These porticos are a beautiful entry element into the homes. We’re not concerned about any differences in the community because it looks really nice,” she said.
The planning commissioners didn’t love the idea of granting permission after the fact. And they said they wanted to make sure they are structurally sound. But in the end, they unanimously decided to allow them to stay.
“It’s internal, the homeowners clearly love it, support it. Who am I to put my opinions and impressions before the people who see it every day?” Chairman Sheldon Cohen said.