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City Council Rejects Apartments Near High School 5-0

Full story here: Residents pack City Hall, mostly to urge a no vote. They walked away happy.

Many in the audience at the San Juan Capistrano City Council meeting Tuesday held signs urging a no vote on the apartments. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Many in the audience at the San Juan Capistrano City Council meeting Tuesday held signs urging a no vote on the apartments. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

Originally posted at 12:13 a.m. Jan. 22, 2014.

Believing low-income apartments aren’t compatible with the area, the San Juan Capistrano City Council unanimously rejected Tuesday a bid to build 100 units next to San Juan Hills High School.

The council chamber was standing-room only, filled with San Juan Hills parents present and future and residents from the nearby Valinda/Mirador tracts. The vast majority opposed the project, holding orange signs saying no to the rezoning and apartments.

Only two of some 14 speakers favored approval.

“I’m going to concur with the Planning Commission recommendation,” said Mayor Sam Allevato. The commission shot down the apartments in August, but city staff was recommending the City Council say yes.

The 4 acres where the apartment complex was proposed are part of a bigger, 10-acre site that is currently zoned for 14 or so homes.

While many of the speakers and some of the councilmen – notably Roy Byrnes and John Taylor – cast doubt on the traffic studies which said the apartments wouldn’t make the congestion any worse than it already is, the main point of contention was eliminating any chance for the school district to acquire the property and expand the high school.

The Capistrano Unified school board two weeks ago voted unanimously to urge the council to deny the apartments with a resolution which underscored a capacity crisis: When La Pata Avenue is punched through to San Clemente, Talega residents will have priority enrollment, possibly displacing San Juan Capistrano students from their hometown school.

That issue hit home for several speakers.

“Our children will be turned out of their own high school,” said San Juan Capistrano resident Shelly Welcome, who also asked an often politically divided council to “put aside your differences and look out for the children of San Juan Capistrano.”

“If the school cannot grow, the kids at Kinoshita cannot go to San Juan Hills. The people who pay Mello-Roos have priority,” said Gila Jones, who works with students at Kinoshita.

“Education is another basic service and we should be allowing the kids of our city to go to this school and not foist them off to other areas,” Jones said.

Former Mayor Mark Nielsen got the only considerable applause of the evening, as Allevato tied to discourage cheering and jeering.

“Yes, I was opposed to the project and the high school at that site. However, it is done and is now our high school. Our job is now to support it and make sure we do nothing that will damage its future ability to best serve our residents,” Nielsen said.

School capacity was also a salient point for Councilman Larry Kramer.

“I would probably do almost anything if the district would guarantee a seat to our children.  I thought they were guaranteed a seat,” he said.

Several councilmembers were critical of the school district, even as three trustees, John Alpay, Jim Reardon and Ellen Addonizio were in the audience, saying that the district created the mess by not having a better traffic plan.

“Can you visualize another 600 students coming up there every day [from Talega]? Horrible. You gotta do something about that,” Kramer said.

A city traffic engineer, George Alvarez, noted it took him 13 minutes to drive from the bottom of the hill to the school during the morning rush hour.

The councilmen suggested resuscitating a city-school district sub-committee.

After the meeting, Reardon said he would welcome the effort.

“Of course they’re right. There should be better communication between the school district and the city," he said. He added that he appreciated the decision because it buys the district more time to figure out how to accommodate all the students who want to attend San Juan Hills. 

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Sunshine February 07, 2014 at 02:17 PM
I agree, Fr. Serra. Stay clear of Sam Allevato, John Taylor, Larry Kramer, San Juan Cares and the rest of the power hungry, self serving, harassing, rude, egotistical "posse". www.RecallSam.com. Sign petitions any day at Von's and the picnic Saturday at Cook Park on La Novia.
Tornado Johnson February 07, 2014 at 02:46 PM
In 240 years Fr. Serra you still have not changed. My research shows that most of your comment is how history portrays you with the Native American tribes. Some fathers never change.
Donna Fleming February 07, 2014 at 02:49 PM
Oh brother where art thou Fr. Serra? One minute you are spouting equiminical verse and the next you are – he-hawing the San Juan Cares circus flyer. "OMG that is the best capture of the gang!!! LOL, nearly choked on my sandwich. Anyone know where I can get a large print? The artist is quite good and captures the essence of the personalities...especially the gut on the fat guy and the beloved jester!!!!” Quotes Fri Serra between bites of his big mac.
Donna Fleming February 07, 2014 at 04:08 PM
Shelly...seawater intrusion We cannot continue to use the GWRP as a source for water. Not in the San Juan Basin. We share the same latitude as Crete and have the same problems. In coastal aquifers, the less dense fresh water lies above a wedge of salt water, and is separated from it by a mobile transition zone. Small changes in the fresh water level can bring about large changes in the transition zone; a 1 m drop in the fresh water-table typically results in a 40 m rise in the transition zone. Thus, when groundwater is extracted more rapidly than it can be recharged, there can be a significant seawater incursion, so that well water often becomes saline. This is a major problem, in, for example, north-east Crete, as an effect of the rapid development of package tourism in a semi-arid environment. Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/seawater-incursion#ixzz2sfZPFrEa
Donna Fleming February 07, 2014 at 06:21 PM
Oh brother where art thou Fr. Serra?. One minute you are spouting equiminical verse and the next you are -- He Hawing the San Juan Cares circus flyer. "OMG that is the best capture of the gang!!! LOL, nearly choked on my sandwich. Anyone know where I can get a large print? The artist is quite good and captures the essence of the personalities...especially the gut on the fat guy and the beloved jester!!!!

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