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New Housing Plan for The Oaks Gets Warm Reception

It's the third development proposal at the equestrian center. On initial review, it looks good, says the Planning Commission

The Oaks' latest development proposal in San Juan Capistrano. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
The Oaks' latest development proposal in San Juan Capistrano. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

Maybe the third time really is the charm.

A third developer has come forward with a plan to develop The Oaks, the equestrian facility owned by Joan Irvine Smith – yes of that Irvine family – on Ortega Highway as you head east out of town.

Twice now, big-name developers, including Shea Homes, have proposed an upscale residential development on the property. Those plans had proposed switching around the open space on the property to build homes partially along San Juan Creek.

Now comes Davidson Communities of Del Mar, a self-described “boutique” developer, said Tim O’Grady, executive vice president. His company is proposing to build homes in the north part of the property – although oriented away from Ortega Highway and Avenida Siega – and move the equestrian facilities to the open space in the south.

“This is a vastly improved site design on the last version we saw,” said Commissioner Tim Neely at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Jeff Parkhurst agreed. “I’m glad you took to heart and pulled all the homes out of the open space.”

O’Grady said the 32 homes on at least 10,000-square-feet lots are designed to have an adobe and equestrian feel, taking cues from the Parra Adobe just down the street on Ortega, bought recently by a lobster fisherman.

“We are really trying to embrace the equestrian aspect. The site itself is beautiful. We’re just captivated by taking arch queues from Parra Adobe,” O’Grady said.

Except for the steepness of the rooflines, the proposed architectural style won praise from the Planning Commission.

“It’s something more unique to San Juan. I don’t think we have anything like it,” said Commissioner Roy Nunn. 

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