A 130-room, three-story Marriott Residence Inn is coming to San Juan Capistrano, on the site of a closed auto dealership at Camino Capistrano and Stonehill Drive.
The project proposal, which has moved quickly through the city's planning process—simultaneously ruffling nearby residents—secured approval from the Planning Commission on Tuesday night.
Although the plans have undergone many changes to ease Villa San Juan Mobile Home Park residents' , the 15 to 20 residents at the meeting said they still weren't satisfied. Nevertheless, commissioners were resoundingly pleased with both the swift pace with which it moved to obtain approval and with the developers' attempts to mitigate angst.
"I like this project; it's been vastly improved since our intial workshop … it's moving really fast because the city is very anxious to get it finished," said Commissioner Gene Ratcliffe.
The mobile home park residents say they mostly fear traffic congestion along Camino Capistrano; noise from the hotel's outdoor sport courts, pool and fire pit; the loss of their view of a green bluff; and even increased property taxes if the adjacent property values rise.
"We are completely, utterly against the project. It's too big, it's too massive, and we're being taken over," Deirdre Hurd said of the cumulative impact of the Marriott and the imminent expansion of nearby Costco.
"On any given holiday, or on any given day when there's an accident on the 5 freeway, you can hardly even pull out of our parking lot. Now we're adding traffic getting to the Marriott and with getting in and out of Costco with the gas station ... it's going to be tremendous impact," said Eleanor Buchanan. "We haven't really as residents had the opportunity to study the effects this is going to have on us."
But Irvine-based R.D. Olson Development and the commission—with the exception of one member—agreed it had made "yeoman" attempts to lessen the impact on the residents. Robert Olson cited the following examples: restricting recreational use between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., building hedges along the hotel's property line that straddles the mobile home park and using low-level lighting.
"We're keeping the building away from the bluff, we have trees now that block views of the ocean from our hotel rooms, but we were willing to do that … we've made a lot of sacrifices," he said.
Additionally, the Planning Commission assured the mobile home park residents that whatever issues they felt hadn't been addressed could be resolved in future Design Review Committee meetings, such as using landscaping as a buffer against late-night noises.
R.D. Olson's application to build a Marriott in San Juan Capistrano first came to the Design Review Committee in August. It is the second hotel to be approved this year.
Olson estimates the city will collect transient occupancy taxes—essentially bed taxes—totaling about $600,000 in the first year of its operation.