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Focus Group Slams SDG&E's New Designs for Substation

Focus group that met Wednesday night is largely underwhelmed. The public can see the architectural renderings next week.

"Looks like prison."

"Looks like a fortress."

"I don't hate it."

"Looks like an old warehouse."

"Reminds me of a mausoleum."

"Fairly tolerable."

This was the feedback of three focus groups Wednesday night who looked at three different architectural styles proposed as a replacement for that fronts the San Diego Gas & Electric substation on Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano.

The utility company is scheduled to submit  to the California Public Utilities Commission its plans to between San Clemente and San Juan later this month. 

Previously, city staff in San Juan had communicated reservations about replacing the historic structure with something out of character with the rest of the downtown area. .

However, SDG&E, as a state-governed utility, does not need local permision to move forward with its plans, which could begin construction next year and see completion by June 2017.

In response to concerns, SDG&E came up with designs, or "charrettes," to take the new substation in three possible architectural themes.

The first SDG&E officials called "neoclassic," which is designed to be a take-off of the existing building.

The second was "California mission," which is supposed to mimic the older, mission-style buildings in town, not the least of which is .

The third design was a variation on the California mission theme, called modern mission.

The focus groups and other invited guests were mostly underwhelmed. They asked for more landscaping, mission tile and the possibility of murals.

The public will have a chance to view the renderings for themselves at an open house SDG&E will host from 3-7 p.m. April 25 at the , 32120 San Juan Creek Road.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Before becoming editor of San Juan Capistrano Patch, Penny Arévalo served on a focus group for San Diego Gas & Electric and saw early plans to upgrade the local substation and power poles in the area. For her service, she received $75.

Kim April 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM
@Stephanie..your comments are out of order, and apparently you are mis-lead as to who I am. I made no outbursts at the meeting, actually said nothing but listened to the presentation with an open mind. My understanding is you are the President of the Chamber of Commerce, and recognize you as making a pointed comment at the meeting from your hair style. I never referred to you as the "plant", but ,apparently you have a guilty conscience, as you feel guilty about something becasue you know it was wrong. And "hijackings", how rude, you sound like Steve! Now to stay on topic, like it or not, we can say "no" to the project just as Ladera Ranch did. If we all roll over and act accepting of our plight as the City Council, SJC, and San Clemente Chambers have done, then when presented to the PUC, that is exactly how SDG@E will portray it, sugar coating it with the $16,000 contributation to our fire works display and touting the not so successful meetings with the residents of SJC leaving out the word not. BTW, if that is a genuine contribution, then SDG@D should being making the same contributions to all cities they service. It looks very bad! Also, please forgive my typos as "lose" is a first grade spelling word, but thanks for pointing out the negative all the way around.
Kim April 23, 2012 at 12:01 AM
And Stephanie, for the sake of disclosure, don't you think you should state your affiliation with the SJC Chamber and the fact that you co-chair on the "Citizens for Reliable Power" of which you and 16 other members support what is transpiring here in San Juan with SDG@E. Your above comments portray you as just a concerned citizen, I think not!
Kim April 23, 2012 at 02:21 AM
@ Stephanie..I forgot to mention your affiliation with the "Fiesta Association" as well. What exactly are your political goals, will we see you come the November City Council elections?. No doubt you are not on the Historical Society, SDG@E feels it is appropriate to tear down a historical building at the current substation....as the representative for SDG@E said coldly, we are simply demolishing it! Obviously he does not live here! Lori Porter from the Cultural Heritage Commission stated she found tearing down the hostorical building "troubling" to say the least. Big business Bullies!
SC life April 23, 2012 at 03:24 AM
The Rancho Mission Viejo Co's new planned city on our eastern border is the one that stands to gain the most from this increase in power. It will have 14,000 homes and 5 million square feet of retail/commercial space; about the size of SJC. SJC doesn't need the increased power - the Ranch does. SDG&E admitted at a council meeting that they have looked at several options for moving the substation. They said they could move it (maybe even underground it) but they prefer not to because of the cost. So how about SDG&E negotiate with the Ranch to pony up some cash to move the substation out of our downtown - and build it in theirs instead? There's plenty of open space out there on the Ranch property. They need the power, they have the land, they have the cash - seems like a good solution to me. It's time SJC stopped serving as a doormat for the Ranch's new city.
Kim April 23, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Ha, Steve B, you are right, it is a "conspiracy". You called it early in the game, and the Ranch seems to be the behemoth. Are you kidding me, the Ranch building a community as big as San Juan, no doubt they need the electricity and much more...Oh yes, it all makes sense now and as usual the San Juan residents are the doormat, and to boot are paying for it! Let the Ranch deal with the blight and substation...pony up the money for underground utilities as other less influential developers have had to do. Thanks SC life, we knew something was wrong with the meeting last Wednesday, now it is perfectly clear to all!

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