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City Council: Lot on Las Ramblas Won't Have Affordable Housing

But two other parcels in San Juan Capistrano were rezoned to accommodate very high densities.

A 9-acre lot at the corner of Las Ramblas and Via California in San Juan Capistrano where affordable housing won't go the City Council decided Tuesday. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
A 9-acre lot at the corner of Las Ramblas and Via California in San Juan Capistrano where affordable housing won't go the City Council decided Tuesday. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

Originally posted at 7:59 a.m. Jan. 22, 2014. Edited to add new photo.

The San Juan Capistrano City Council considered rezoning three vacant lots in town for future affordable housing projects and nicked one of them from the list Tuesday.

A 9.5-acre parcel at the corner of Camino Las Ramblas and Via California will not allow very high density housing, up to 30 units an acre, the council decided. But one across from JSerra Catholic High School will, as will a lot just east of the I-5 Freeway in the center of town.

After a 1.5-hour hearing to consider another partly low-income project near San Juan Hills High which packed the council chambers, it was déjà vu all over again with residents who live in various tracts off Las Ramblas saying they don’t want to live near a housing project either.

“It used to be a big valley we could walk our dogs in. Since then it’s become a dumping zone to dump dirt,” said resident Britta Gallery. Residents said they were told is that it would a park or a school – not high-density apartments.



Nelson Miller, a planning consultant in the process of handing the reins to  a new planning director, said just because the city zones a property for high density doesn’t mean that’s how the land will ultimately be developed. However, the state does obligate all cities to plan to accommodate affordable housing, making it a possibility.

The Las Ramblas project would have been rezoned to allow 228 units.

“This is not what we signed up for and I think it’s a very poor fit,” said Brenda Lepper.

Many of the nine residents who spoke said the apartments at Las Ramblas next to the freeway -- the city's one and only apartment complex -- already bring a criminal element to the neighborhood. An affordable housing project would only exacerbate the problem.

Jim Maffetore said he was one of the victims in a recent rash of burglaries. Two of the three suspects came from the Capistrano Pointe Apartments. He also predicted traffic problems, parking problems and a hit to nearby property values.

The council did move to rezone the other two lots. Planners envision 48 units on the 4-acre parcel across from JSerra, a city-owned property known as the Groves, and 216 units at the 9-acre Ventanas project south of Calle Arroyo’s westerly end next to the freeway.

But all five agreed the Las Ramblas lot was off the list.

“It’s not compatible with surrounding areas, very similar to what went on early this evening,” with the apartments proposed next to San Juan Hills High School, said Mayor Sam Allevato. 

The council now has until October to find and rezone another lot in town that will bring the potential number of affordable housing units in the city up to 371, said Charlie View, the city’s new planning director.


Whiskey Bent January 22, 2014 at 03:22 PM
I was watching at home and something caught my ear toward the end. Allevato said he was always opposed to this. Then Reeve said the council previously voted 4-1 to approve this property for this housing, with Reeve being the one opposed. I didn't really understand but if true I thought another recall change of heart.
Sunshine January 22, 2014 at 05:16 PM
Probably right, Publius, the Recall is affecting Sam's voting right now. BTW, all we need is more traffic around J Serra high School and Junipero Serra freeway exit.
Christie January 22, 2014 at 11:15 PM
Oh my Goodness, Sunshine! I didn't even think of that .... already we sometimes spend 15 minutes idling on the offramp waiting to get through that first signal. : (
noneck January 22, 2014 at 11:29 PM
noneck Las Ramblas and Via De Agua Yes, originally we were told the dirt was stored there to settle the ground underneath it for a future school or park. I feel sorry for the homes just above it because the stored soil ruined their view. The soil is an eye sore and should be removed.
quercus January 23, 2014 at 08:03 AM
Affordable housing in San Juan. It's a nice idea in theory but no one wants it in their neighborhood. How to pay for the redevelopment sins of the past without pissing off potential recall voters. What to do, what to do....... High school students and horses don't vote. Problem solved.
Frieda Wales January 23, 2014 at 11:32 AM
San Juan Capistrano needs more apartment opportunities. Right now there is only one and it is removed from the center of town. All cities in CA are required to have some form of affordable housing. Not housing projects, but affordable. Not all people looking for affordability are criminals as implied by some of the comments here and the quotes in the article. How shallow minded!
GreenInOC January 23, 2014 at 01:07 PM
"...the city's one and only apartment complex -- already bring a criminal element to the neighborhood." - yes, it's amazing isn't it that SJC had no crime before the apartments were built! --------------- http://www.city-data.com/city/San-Juan-Capistrano-California.html

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