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By Emily Rasmussen

San Juan Capistrano City Council passed a resolution to initiate a study of a general plan amendment at its meeting on Tuesday, April 3, as a result of a proposed Los Rios Specific Plan amendment requested for the River Street Marketplace project on Los Rios Street.

A proposed amendment to the Los Rios Specific Plan is already in the process of evolution via an environmental impact report (EIR) to accommodate the River Street Marketplace project proposal—which includes five buildings, a common area, pedestrian walkways and a parking lot of 280-plus stalls—and this added, proposed general plan amendment is aimed to ensure both plans are consistent, a city staff report said.

The proposed general plan amendments will be analyzed simultaneously with the Los Rios Specific plan in EIR, being prepared by Placeworks, Inc., the staff report said. At the April 3 City Council meeting, more than five residents spoke about the River Street Marketplace project and the proposed amendments, with about half of the speakers in favor and half against the project.

“It’s premature, we haven’t gotten the results of the EIR yet to identify the impacts that this project will have on Los Rios and we spent a lot of time listing questions for the (EIR) consultant,” longtime resident Jeff Vasquez said. “The council should at least wait until they hear back from the consultant to review the EIR to determine whether or not a general plan (amendment) is necessary.”

Councilman Derek Reeve, who is one of three council members up for a potential recall that stemmed from a development-related controversy surrounding the River Street Marketplace project, said that researching a general plan amendment may require an “act of cautiousness” in the event that the amendment is necessary.

“I could get my pompoms out and be a cheerleader for this project, or like Councilwoman (Pam) Patterson be against this project; either way is allowed,” Reeve said. “This a legislative act, so that’s allowed, but I actually have not taken a position because I’m really waiting for the EIR results.”

San Juan Capistrano resident Howard Hart spoke in favor of the study.

“Why does ‘recall incorporated’ wish to stop the City Council from doing fact-based decisions, because all this is, is a fact-finding study,” Hart said. “Are they afraid of what the facts might be?”

City Council passed the resolution 4-1, with Patterson opposed.


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