John Perry, San Juan Capistrano

At the May 16 San Juan Capistrano City Council public hearing on a four-year extension of the Distrito La Novia/Meadows project development agreement, it occurred to me that a number of competing interests are in play. In this article, I will attempt to categorize the groups that will benefit or lose from the proposed project.


The city of San Juan Capistrano becomes the biggest winner because the city gets millions of dollars in developer fees for a variety of purposes.

Advanced Real Estate Services (ARES) becomes a big winner because inexpensive property will get rezoned to a more desirable entitlement from old restricted zoning. The zoning alone could add millions to the potential worth of property owned by ARES. They could choose to sell off the rezoned property without building anything.

The equestrian community is a big winner because the project includes a proposal to build facilities to house 500 horses, together with stables, exercise yards, show stadiums, trails, trailer parking, manure collection and storage facilities.


The downtown merchants and nearby property owners will become big losers when the Distrito/Meadows development is completed, because downtown business owners and merchants will see much of their current business move to the new and trendy shops and restaurants in the Distrito development. The clientele, who currently frequent shops and restaurants in the old section of San Juan Capistrano, will be attracted by the new and modern facilities constructed by the eventual builder.

The residents of the entire city of San Juan Capistrano, especially those who live along San Juan Creek Road, will experience increased traffic as a result of the construction of the Distrito and Meadows projects. San Juan Creek Road will bear the brunt of the increase in traffic of 8,000 trips per day when the grading for Distrito and Forster Canyon landfill excavation begins and buildings are completed.

In addition, the noise, dust, and reductions in air quality will last for several years. Ten three-story buildings and a parking structure with elements towering nearly 45 feet in the air will dominate the view toward the south from San Juan West and East residential with night lighting from the project obliterating the sunsets and stars.

I have covered just some of the elements of who wins and who loses. It seems to me that after the project is built and the developer has sold off all the buildings and homes and has filled the stables with horses, the residents of San Juan Capistrano, especially residents of San Juan Hills East and West, will have to live with the consequences of extremely poor planning and judgment on the part of our current and past City Councils.

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