The long-awaited skate park project in San Juan Capistrano is, once again, anticipated to move forward, according to city officials.
“The City Council remains committed to bringing a skate park to the San Juan Capistrano community and looks forward to an anticipated grand opening in summer 2024,” Mayor Howard Hart said in a Facebook post on Monday, July 17.
An environmental impact report (EIR) for the approximately 1-acre skate park “is nearly ready for public review and comment,” Assistant City Manager Matisse Reischl told The Capistrano Dispatch on Monday.
“Staff and the city’s CEQA consultants are finalizing the draft document and anticipate the 45-day public review period will begin later this month with Planning Commission and City Council public hearings in the fall/winter to reconsider the project,” Reischl said.
The skate park is being planned for construction on the southwest corner of the city’s Kinoshita Farm property currently operated by The Ecology Center and adjacent to the city Sports Park on Camino Del Avion.
“Project elements include a playground, restroom, berm seating, public trail, and a 20,000 square-foot all-wheel skate park,” Reischl said.
Construction on the park could likely begin early next year, pending regulatory approvals. San Juan residents have voiced support for a skate park for at least a decade.
The anticipated release of the environmental report comes nearly a year since the city settled the lawsuit that the nonprofit Preserve Our Farm SJC brought forth in April 2022, delaying the skate park project’s momentum.
Preserve Our Farm SJC, which includes former Mayor Carolyn Nash and other unidentified members, alleged the city did not conduct a proper environmental review for the project in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)—statewide legal standards that many developments must measure up to.
According to the settlement agreement, reached in August 2022, the lawsuit was deemed “moot” as the City Council commissioned an environmental impact report and rescinded prior project approvals—actions taken after the lawsuit was filed.
“The Parties recognize that the City is considering additional environmental review via environmental impact report (‘EIR’) for the Project, and this Agreement is not intended to prevent the City from considering, preparing, or certifying the EIR and is not intended to prevent the City from issuing any future approvals relating to the Project,” the settlement stated.
As a condition of the settlement, the city was required to pay $32,500 as “full reimbursement” for Preserve Our Farm SJC’s attorney fees and incurred costs. The proposed skate park is being planned for construction on the farm property, which is currently operated by the Ecology Center.