City Staff Reverses Itself, Calls for Apartments' Approval

Where once staffers agreed with the Planning Commission's recommendation of denial, they now support the 100-unit complex.

The apartment complex proposed next to San Juan Hills High School. Graphic courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano.
The apartment complex proposed next to San Juan Hills High School. Graphic courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano.

San Juan Capistrano city staffers are now recommending the City Council approve the 100-unit apartment complex proposed next to San Juan Hills High School.

The plan has come under fire, from residents in the nearby Valinda tract at past public hearings, the Capistrano Unified school board, which unanimously urged the City Council to reject the project and from parents picketing near the high school.

The San Juan Capistrano Planning Commission voted in August to recommend the City Council deny the project. And when the matter first came before the City Council in December, staff members were in agreement.

Postponed a month to consider additional traffic measures the developer suggested, staff is now recommending the City Council override the Planning Commission and give the apartments the green light.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto, to discuss the matter.

The December suggestions for improving traffic in the area – above and beyond a traffic signal already proposed at the entrance of the apartments along Vista Montana – included two dedicated turn lanes to accommodate more people commuting to and from the school.

City staff has studied the proposals and determined the left-turn lanes from eastbound Vista Montana onto northbound La Pata Avenue would work. However, more land would need to be acquired to accommodate two right-turn lanes from southbound La Pata onto Vista Montana.

Staff suggests the school district pay for that change.

“As demonstrated by the project's traffic impact analysis, these improvements are neither attributable to nor necessitated by the proposed Rancho San Juan Apartments project,” the report states.

Patch is reaching out to the district for response.

Overall, the light and the restriping along Vista Montana would improve traffic, so staff is now recommending a yes vote on the apartments, the report says.


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Jim Reardon January 18, 2014 at 08:38 PM
Frankly, I am mystified by the behavior of city staff. The proposal for two right-turn lanes was presented by the developer as a last-ditch effort to save his project during the last city council meeting. Using the justification that city staff had not seen the proposal prior to the meeting, the whole matter was put-off to January 21. Now, city staff endorses the idea and wants the school district to pay for it? Based on what? CUSD has seen no details of this idea. Keep in mind, Vista Montana is a dead-end street. They are proposing to double the traffic queue on a dead-end. This same city staff presented several detailed traffic simulations to CUSD representatives, including me. One simulation involved two traffic signals (one at the locked-gate on La Pata and the other at the opposite end of that gate road at Vista Montana). Everyone involved recognized that this was the only effective traffic remedy. Next, the city staff took two lights off the table and presented a one traffic light proposal to city council that is entirely ineffective and even dangerous. I'd say this is a development circus, except that metaphor is otherwise occupied. I'll call it a zoo.
Tornado Johnson January 18, 2014 at 08:48 PM
City staff goes whichever way the wind blows.
Donna Fleming January 19, 2014 at 12:21 PM
The Allevato Machine, being powered by zoo keepers.
Jill McGovern January 19, 2014 at 01:02 PM
We will meet our 1000 doorways!
shelly January 19, 2014 at 10:17 PM
Please put your political squabbling and name calling aside and e-mail the SJC City Council and city clerk and request that they vote no on the rezone. Please encourage the Mayor and the SJC City Council to put the needs of the children of SJC first before the developer. Please be respectful and do not call names. sallevato@sanjuancapistrano.org, lkramer@sanjuancapistrano.org, jtaylor@sanjuancapistrano.org, rbyrnes@sanjuancapistrano.org, dreeve@sanjuancapistrano.org,cityclerk@sanjuancapistrano.org
Christie January 19, 2014 at 11:36 PM
Mark Nielsen wrote a piece in the Dispatch: "On January 21, our City Council will be voting on whether to support a rezone and general plan amendment that could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, add significant traffic problems and remove the one feasible chance for the future expansion of San Juan Hills High School. The Planning Commission recommended the project be denied, but the developer is counting on getting three city council members to ignore the recommendation and rezone the property from low to high density....But the core problem is that to approve this plan, the city will be put in the position of enriching a private developer at the expense of the taxpayer." Mark Nielsen, Capistrano Dispatch (January 2014) I am so curious to see what happens.
Donna Fleming January 19, 2014 at 11:49 PM
How can the developer be so sure that he will get the three votes he needs from the SJ City Council? The planning commision says no and Alleveto intends to ignore them and swing the rezone to allow for a developer to build high density property.
Christie January 19, 2014 at 11:57 PM
"But the core problem is that to approve this plan, the city will be put in the position of enriching a private developer at the expense of the taxpayer." Mark Nielsen (Jan 2014)


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