Carolyn Nash, former mayor, San Juan Capistrano
I do not believe that Reeve and Ferguson support the basic long-terms goals for overall development of the city that the majority of the citizens of San Juan Capistrano have supported for more than 40 years.
They both ran for City Council seats under the guise of supporting the existing general plan and promised to prohibit overdevelopment, reduce traffic congestion, preserve the city’s historic character and all of the other goals that are listed in the general plan, the adopted development plan for the city. The only way councilmembers get elected to the City Council in San Juan Capistrano is by adopting and promoting these goals.
They have shown by their votes that they either do not support these goals, do not understand them, or are not knowledgeable enough about the codes, ordinances, zoning, regulations and procedures that the city has in place to be able to use them to protect the city from overdevelopment and rampant traffic.
Currently, there are 11 projects that I know of that are being proposed for future development within the main downtown area or within a few blocks of downtown. The majority of these projects include requesting amendments to the general plan to allow higher density housing, more commercial use, higher building height, fewer parking spaces.
The project that I believe is the most detrimental to the city is the River Street Shopping Center in the historic Los Rios Area. On Oct. 4, 2016, Ferguson and Reeve both voted to initiate an amendment to the Los Rios Specific Plan paving the way for the developer to rewrite our zoning laws to permit a high intensity commercial use in the Los Rios Historic District. Their aggressive actions undermined 40 years of council efforts to protect the district from commercial exploitation. The recall is necessary to stop their final vote of approval of the River Street Shopping Center and to protect the district.
In my opinion, approval of River Street would be the biggest mistake any council could make to ensure the destruction of the historic value of Los Rios, an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it is the oldest residential street in California. Building this shopping center in the middle of the historic Los Rios area would have the same negative impact on the city as building a shopping center in the middle of the Mission grounds.
Reeve and Ferguson had access to the Los Rios Precise Plan, which is the guideline for development of the entire Los Rios area, and was adopted after several years of study to determine what type of development would be compatible with the residential area.
Rather than requiring the developer to present a plan that is more in line with the Los Rios Precise Plan, which they should have done, they rolled over and are allowing the developer to steamroll his shopping center through the city’s development review process.
I believe that these two council members are supporting the goals of the developer by pushing for approval on the River Street project and are not supporting the goals of our citizens of preserving the area. This has become apparent through Ferguson’s e-mails to the developer stating her support of the project, councilmembers’ personal introduction of the developer to property owners who might be interested in doing business in the project, drumming up support for the project before it has even started through the city’s review process, public disparagement of any citizens who oppose the project and general involvement in behind-the-scenes activities which promote the project. I do not feel these activities are appropriate for a councilmember or even technically legal prior to the plan being analyzed by planning staff, reviewed by all commissions, and then being presented to the council for their approval or denial.
There are five other projects being supported by one or both councilmen. Their support has made me believe that they are not making decisions consistent with our General Plan and in the best interest of San Juan. Reeve and Ferguson should be recalled before they can vote on the following projects:
- Vermeulen: Change zoning from agriculture to high-density housing and commercial space.
- Camino Playhouse: Allow 56,000 square feet of commercial space with no guarantee of a performing arts center. This is the third project the city has awarded to Frontier Real Estate for development including the River Street Shopping Center.
- H. Real Estate Partners: Proposal to build apartments and commercial space on 10 acres adjacent to the freeway. The general plan discouraged residential units adjacent to freeways because of negative health impacts on residents.
- Distrito: Extended approval of development rights that had been approved years ago to build 130 apartments, 68,000 square feet of commercial and 14,000 square feet of office space on 150 acres adjacent to the freeway. It has already been approved by council.
- Northwest Open Space: Proposal to lease the Northwest Open Space for development. This property was purchased by the residents who taxed themselves to preserve this area as open space.
Reeve supported all five of these and Ferguson supported three of these projects.
These five projects, plus another six that are being proposed or have been approved for development, will add 244,000 square feet of commercial or office space, 610 housing units and 224 hotel rooms to our downtown. In addition, there is an unknown amount of commercial space proposed for the Lower Rosan, Northwest Open Space and other small projects that will be added to the total to be built.
These projects will add approximately 27,000 traffic trips per day to our existing city streets.
By their votes and public comments, Reeve and Ferguson have shown that they are willing to rezone property for massive development, allow increased traffic through additional development, ignore guidelines provided by the general plan and not protect areas of historic value to the community.
We must recall councilmembers who do not support the goals for development of San Juan Capistrano that the citizens put in place and have defended for so many years.