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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.