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An early artist rendering of the proposed Laguna Glen senior living community in San Juan Capistrano. Courtesy of Spieker Senior Development
An early artist rendering of the proposed Laguna Glen senior living community in San Juan Capistrano. Courtesy of Spieker Senior Development

By Allison Jarrell

The new San Juan Capistrano City Council voted 4-1 at its Dec. 16 meeting to overturn rezoning for the Spieker Senior Development, known as Laguna Glen, which had been approved by the previous council last month.

After a petition to upend the development’s zoning approval was verified by the Registrar of Voters, the council had two choices: repeal the project’s zoning or allow voters to make that decision with a special election referendum. With former mayor Sam Allevato dissenting, the council majority voted to repeal the approval.

The group of residents that petitioned against Laguna Glen filed 3,458 signatures in November—almost twice as many as needed. The petition came after the council approved rezoning for the development on Nov. 4. At that meeting, Allevato and then-councilmen Larry Kramer and John Taylor voted in favor of rezoning the 35-acre plot of land off Del Obispo Street from agricultural to business use.

Many of the residents who spoke at the Dec. 16 meeting claimed that petition signers were told their signatures would go exclusively toward putting the issue out to a public vote. They asked the council to honor those signatures by letting resident voices be heard in a special election.

Allevato said this is the first time in San Juan council history that the council voted a project down instead of approving an election. Mayor Derek Reeve, mayor pro tem Pam Patterson, Byrnes and Ferguson cited concerns including traffic impacts and the cost of a special election as reasons for overturning the prior approval themselves.

Troy Bourne, principal at Spieker, said San Juan Capistrano is the first city to turn down one of Spieker’s projects. He said Spieker is not a litigious group, and answered “no comment” when asked whether the company is considering a lawsuit. Bourne said Spieker is considering a few different options moving forward.

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comments (24)

  • Speiker has a project in Pleasanton, CA that took more than 10 years to achieve final approval.

    • Incurable Optimist

      Really? Do u know why it took so long?

      • Yes, I do. There were many items Pleasanton wanted Spieker to do they refused. I have visited that project, have friends who live there and family in the area,

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie, it’s nice to hear someone has visited one of these communities. Did you notice any traffic issues there, cause there seems to be some argument about that in SJC?

      • The traffic problems in Pleasanton are very different than in SJC. The project is accessed by Stoneridge Drive, a major street through the heart of Pleasanton from the foothills on the west, to Livermore on the east. It roughly parallels the I-580 which is heavily congested and also an corridor of BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit train). So it is considered a “short-cut” way to avoid traffic on the I-580. There are currently +/- 400 residents at the Speiker project and construction is nearly complete on the care facility….so there is only construction traffic presently. The cost to be in the care facility will be +/- $9000/month. Pleasanton is a very upscale community, rather like Irvine here. The specific parcel on which the parcel is located is bounded by (what was the terminis) of Stoneridge Drive, the I-580, and the boundary with City of Livermore. Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon are part of the Tri-Valley area, known for high tech companies, health services companies, and wineries dating to the gold rush era. The extension of Stoneridge to connect with a road in Livermore was a necessary component of project approval. Stoneridge, as it exists is a wide open, easy access divided parkway with plenty of left turn pockets where necessary. But it is not close to the beautifully preserved downtown of Pleasanton proper, with lovely old buildings dating from the late 1800’s that house boutiques, restaurants, a vibrant historical society, etc.

      • Incurable Optimist

        So you are saying that apart from construction traffic there is really no traffic? That seems consistent with what the developer has been saying.

      • The area is not the same as SJC. It has no other highly impactful nearby properties like Marco Forster, Capo Valley Christian, Mariner’s Church, or Olivia. The street is wider, has more lanes, is more accessable. It’s apples and oranges.

      • Incurable Optimist

        OK, that seems fair. But here’s my concern: if we kick the retirement community out (which everyone agrees is pretty and a low traffic use compared to other things) do you really think the property is just going to sit empty? Aren’t we all going to feel a little stupid when a bunch of regular houses get built that generates a lot more traffic? How does the city tell this farmer he can’t build anything when they’ve let every other farmer around him build stuff like houses or worse?

      • What’s your real name?

      • Incurable Optimist

        As Rose Stone commented a few minutes ago on another article: “Using a Nom de plume is appropriate since residents have been maligned in Hit Mailers, and ridiculed in Cartoon mailers. Actually, those were the tipping point for many in San Juan Capistrano. Others, were threatened in blogs like these. Most of us are residents with children. During the recall a high ranking official’s daughter made comments on my personal facebook page. This was during the newspaper, freedom of speech/press debacle in town. Good Lord can you blame anyone for being careful?”.

        What are your thoughts about my concerns above at 2:24pm?

      • I am somewhat familiar with politics in SJC.

      • Dear Bonnie, my current Orange County neighbor and former Tri-Valley neighbor. We have a lot of geography in common! I too have family still in the Tri-Valley and good friends in Pleasanton that are living in the Speiker project there, I too have visited and had lunch in the restaurant and I too have reviewed their pricing sheet so we both know the cost to buy in is $300,000 at the bottom of the range to over $1M at the upper end. We aren’t guessing at the price like others, we’ve seen it in black and white. If we were to move to Pleasanton, you and I would probably downsize like our friends did to something in the $450-500,000 range.
        So I’d like to add to your comments, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story” as I understand it from my friends.
        Like so many others, my friends got on the list to be residents when the office first opened in Pleasanton on Stoneridge Dr in ’08. They showed me their copy of the original site plan from 2008 when I was visiting over Xmas. At that time there was no requirement or even plan for Speiker to make Stoneridge Dr a “major street” as a “short-cut” to Livermore. That plan, extending the street, was in the area general plan for 20+ years. I am sure you will recall as I do driving on Stoneridge Dr from the Stoneridge Mall and foothills on the west to the dead end at the Arroyo – it has always had four lanes. This was in preparation for the road to go through to Livermore someday per the area’s general plan. Getting the approval to put Stoneridge Dr through to Livermore at the same time they were approving the Speiker project was the Pleasanton mayor’s idea and got her money for Pleasanton from the county. I am somewhat familiar with the politics in Pleasanton. It was a small group of residents that hired a lawyer who sued the city over issues related to the Mayor’s decision that caused the delay in the approval of the retirement community. During the delays Dublin built a big, beautiful Target store and Livermore built a huge Outlet Mall, opened it and we all went shopping there for Xmas presents! Now residents are happy Stoneridge Dr goes through to the Outlet Mall! Yes, some of the people that signed on early had health problems arise during those delays, delays caused by the citizens suing the city. Yes, that made them ineligible to move in to the retirement community they were hoping to live in after the lawsuits were settled and the community was ready for move in. Contact the newspapers in Pleasanton: Pleasanton Weekly, CC Times. I’m sure they will fill you in.
        The care center in Pleasanton is next door to the retirement community. It is a different legal entity. I’m sure your friends that live there have told you how their contract works where the retirement community residents get to receive care there at no additional cost over what they currently pay to live in the independent retirement community. “The cost to be in the care facility will be +/- $9000/month” that you quote is for a private pay person receiving care there. You can’t be shocked by this number. It is market rate. If you, like I, have priced any assisted living accommodations locally in Orange County or San Diego County or in the Bay Area or nationally, you already know this to be true. If you haven’t, give some of them a call here in South Orange County or read some of the WSJ articles about the cost of long term care. It is going to be expensive for us to find assisted living where we actually want to live – I’m sure we can find less expensive places that aren’t as nicely or decorated as we would want with staff that is less attentive and the place smells funny. My friends living in the Pleasanton Speiker project are thrilled that when they need care it WILL BE high quality and WILL NOT be the $9000/month that you and I will pay but closer to half that number. Your friends must realize what a blessing and cost savings this will be for them and their family or they would not have moved into the Pleasanton community. I know mine do.
        My friends are from Pleasanton and are happy they got to stay in the town they love. I met some of their new friends and neighbors that moved to Pleasanton from nearby cities of Fremont, Livermore, Brentwood and from not so nearby Hawaii. It’s not Shangri-La. They have neighbors that they don’t care for but that’s not any different from any other neighborhood any of us live in.
        We like to visit downtown Pleasanton too which was also farm land, “at the end of the earth” and NOBODY wanted to live there, before John Madden bought The Rose Hotel downtown. It is interesting to hear about its history of the railroad, underground tunnels and brothels that has been, as you so eloquently described, restored to “beautifully preserved … lovely old buildings … that house boutiques, restaurants, etc”. The history of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, Los Rios, the swallows, etc. should make us all feel as warm as you do when you talk about downtown Pleasanton. I would love to hear you be able to so movingly describe SJC downtown. I wish we could meet and reminisce about growing up in the Tri- Valley it is a great place to be from. Take care.

      • Much of what you say is true, Cindy, or at least partially true. You left out a few parts….in addition to handing over $300,000 to $1,000,000 to move in….there is also a monthly fee of $3000-$5000. That alone needs a PNW in excess of $2million. An assigned parking space (outside, uncovered is an additional cash amount + additional monthly amount). I had dinner there, food was mediocre, portions very small. I, too met new neighbors of my friends there….some are moving to larger units, or to alternative locations. I have extensively researched senior housing for many years, both professionally and for a family member. There are many, much less costly possibilities. From Irvine to San Clemente alone there are over 800 board & care facilities in older single family homes for 6 or fewer residents with at least 2 full-time (24/7) care givers. I’m not commenting on Speiker’s quality, just it’s too large to fit into the space, and the traffic and water concerns which are unique to SJC.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie, I understand that the Stoneridge Creek Spieker community in Pleasanton is different in it’s location & community make-up than where Laguna Glen will be located in our town. The part I don’t understand is why you think that the traffic generated by the retirement community will be any different here than it is there?

      • See my comment of Jan 2

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie, I’m not sure which post of January 2nd you are referring to. The comment at 1:18 p.m goes into great detail about where the Pleasanton community is located and why that location is so very different than my town of SJC, however you’ve overlooked the real issue – what is the real amount of traffic the retirement community has added to the community? Also, I’m not sure why the cost of the care facility has any bearing on the traffic?

      • Traffic on Stoneridge is hard to evaluate. Before the Speiker development it was a dead end. Now it is a through street. Obviously, Stoneridge has generated traffic internally and from visitors. But just as obviously, the care facility will generate much more with care givers and visits from friends/relatives of the folks who choose to live there.

  • Incurable Optimist

    Oh, what was it they refused to do?

    • Contact the newspaper in Pleasanton. I’m sure they will fill you in.

      • Incurable Optimist, the Pleasanton project took about 7 years. Our community was part of a broader master plan that included roadway extensions retail centers, parks and other improvements. Our active participation in the application took about 3 years. Half of which was a delay due to a law suit filed by neighbors opposed to a roadway extension not required for the retirement community. As in SJC, the future residents of the community played a key role is helping see the project approved. If you are interested in learning more, there are many articles still online ( Mrs. Benton’s comment re: our unwillingness to comply with city demands is inaccurate. We paid the city millions of dollars in fees, constructed a multi million dollar park at residents’ request and installed a state of the art water quality management plan and basin for the broader area. I know of no request the city made with which we did not comply. The city of Pleasanton was and is great to partner with—probably one of the reasons the town is consistently noted as one of the top towns in the US. I’m sure the city would welcome a call or I can provide you with more information or the city manager’s number. You can reach me at

      • You forgot to mention that the parcel in Pleasanton was outside the City limits , the land was actually junk land owned by the County, and the road extension was necessary to complete the master plan of roads through to next door Livermore. Tell the whole truth.

      • Ms. Benton, our parcel in Pleasanton was originally out side the city limits and the city chose to annex the property. I’m not sure how to respond to the “junk land” comment, but it seems inconsistent with your concerns posted on other articles that our communities are not affordable. It is a beautiful site (see close to shopping and health care venues. The hundreds of seniors who live there may disagree with your characterization. The road extension had been “necessary” for the county for decades, but was not required for approval of our project as I stated above. I can sit down with you and review the application that showed no road extension if you’d like to meet.

      • That’s not necessary. I was born and raised in the area, have family and friends there. I have visited the project recently, even had dinner there.

  • Incurable Optimist

    This is the only article I could find, and this says it was approved in 2010 by a 5-0 city council vote?

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