The Planning Commission began the process Tuesday to change three large parcels in San Juan Capistrano to very high density to meet the state’s requirement the city accommodate affordable housing.
The three parcels that will see as many as 30 units an acre are:
- The Groves project, just west of JSerra Catholic High School (4.4 acres)
- The Ventanas project south of Calle Arroyo’s westerly end next to the I-5 Freeway (9 acres)
- A 9.5-acre parcel at Via California and Camino Las Ramblas that was to be given to the Capistrano Unified School District as a future school site
The city is updating its plans for housing – of all types, market priced and affordable. Officials have until mid-February to make the tweaks or face the state withholding transportation funds, said Nelson Miller, interim director of community development.
“Each jurisdiction, cities and county, must accommodate their fair share of the affordable housing needs based on the state’s population growth,” Miller said.
For San Juan Capistrano, the numbers actually went down compared to the housing plans of 2008-14, Miller said. The city’s target number now is 638, about half what it used to be.
That breaks down by 74 units designated for those of extremely low income, 73 units for very low income, 104 units for low income, 120 in moderate-income housing units and 267 units for above-moderate-income housing, he said.
Just because the zoning densities will change, doesn’t mean that any affordable housing will be built, Miller added.
“The key in housing elements is that you provide opportunities, not that you have to do certain things, just that you provide the opportunity,” he said.
And, even with permission to build 30 units an acre, most projects will come in around 24 because of physical site constraints, Miller said. To picture it properly, most two-story garden apartment complexes are 24 units an acre.
San Juan Capistrano does not have a good track record of attracting affordable housing, said Dave Solt, a member of the now-defunct Housing Advisory Committee.
“Our city has continually procrastinated, and we have built ourselves in a corner,” he said. “The City Council isn’t going to do this work. They really don’t care about it. They’ll play lip service to it. Be proactive. … It needs to be done because there will be consequences. It needs to be done because it’s the right thing to do.
“We want housing for the well to do, the median and the low income,” Solt said.
Next up, the City Council is expected to consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation at its Jan. 21 meeting.
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