By Allison Jarrell

The San Juan Capistrano City Council voted 4-1 on Feb. 16 to reject a proposed agreement with Costa Mesa developer Lab Holding, LLC, to explore the feasibility of creating a “unique commercial retail/lifestyle center” on the city’s Lower Rosan property. Mayor Pam Patterson was the dissenting vote.

City officials have been attempting to sell the Lower Rosan Ranch, a 16.48-acre property north of Stonehill Drive, for years and were planning on selling it through a brokerage. In stark contrast to past offers from big box stores such as Home Depot, city staff described Lab Holding’s proposal as “a unique development concept.”

Had it been approved, the agreement would have created a limited term during which negotiations surrounding site plans could have been discussed.

A couple of residents questioned the transparency of the agreement during public comment and asked why the city wasn’t sending out requests for proposals for the development of the property. The majority of councilmembers agreed with those sentiments, saying they prefer a more transparent RFP process for the land rather than a non-binding agreement with one developer. Several councilmembers said they look forward to reviewing multiple creative proposals for the property, which could potentially include the Lab’s application.

City Manager Ben Siegel said staff will develop the proposed process for the land and bring it back for future council consideration.

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