By Collin Breaux
Featured image: The City Council playfully tears down the old City Hall building during their last meeting in the facility. Photo: Collin Breaux
The San Juan Capistrano City Council plans to move into new and permanent Council Chambers by next year, signing off on plans and specifications for construction of the coming facility during a meeting on Dec. 13.
The new chambers will be in the San Juan Capistrano Community Center, at 25925 Camino Del Avion near Marco Forster Middle School. The City Council is no longer holding meetings at City Hall and will be meeting in the Nydegger Building (at 31421 La Matanza Street, near the library) in the interim.
Though a new City Hall facility is also being built, the Council Chambers are being relocated to the Community Center due to space limitations at the new City Hall.
“There’s ample parking that will be able to accommodate the City Council Chamber,” said Matisse Reischl, assistant to the city manager and community services director, when presenting the matter to the City Council. “In addition to the construction of the new chamber in the community hall—which is obviously inside the building—some additional exterior landscaping improvements, some signage upgrades to the building that would indicate that is where the council chambers are located are also located in the project.”
Further project components would include a screen to display the video stream of what’s happening in the Council Chamber and audio speakers in case there are overflow needs in a nearby corridor or if someone steps out of the room but wants to keep tabs on the meeting.
“On that wall is also proposed to house the former mayor portraits,” Reischl said. “(The) back wall, directly before you enter the current community hall room, that’s where it’s proposed to locate the current City Council member portraits and some nice signage that identifies that is the entrance to the City Council Chamber.”
The community hall is frequently used and rented by local groups for workshops, celebrations and other events.
“It’s an affordable space, and it’s well utilized on the holidays and most weekends,” Reischl said. “That was the motivation for the proposed design, the expansion of the space. We’re proposing a 1,000 square-foot, approximately, expansion to not lose any usable community space in the room.”
The chamber setup would be flexible with chairs that are not fixed.
“When there’s not a City Council meeting, there’s a movable partition that would close off the dais space, and then the room would essentially look as it does now,” Reischl said.
A new restroom will be included with the dais addition. Windows in the room will still allow a view of the nearby Sports Park. Each dais seat will have audio/visual connectivity capability, be it plugging in a laptop or charging a device. Drop-down video screens will also be installed, similar to the prior chamber at City Hall, yet “easier to see in the audience,” Reischl said.
The City Council approved putting the work out to bid. “Staff would solicit construction bids in January/February 2023,” Reischl said of the project schedule. “We’d recommend to City Council awarding a construction contract in February. Construction would then be anticipated to begin in March, and then construction would be anticipated to begin in late 2023.”
Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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