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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

A development project that would construct affordable housing apartments and a new San Juan Capistrano City Hall building at the current City Hall location on Paseo Adelanto is inching closer to reality.

The City Council approved regulatory steps—including a zoning variance and a floodplain use permit—during a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Final approval of the project is expected to come before the City Council this spring. Construction will likely start in early 2023, and it could take 1½-2 years to complete.

The project will include 49 permanent supportive housing apartments and a two-bedroom unit for the on-site property manager. The apartments are intended for very low-income individuals who are at risk for being homeless or have experienced homelessness, including military veterans.

Jamboree Housing Corporation, a longtime nonprofit that helps at-risk people obtain housing, is working with the city on the project. Tenants will be screened by the County of Orange and Jamboree Housing before moving in to the apartments and directed to the housing complex based on priority needs after being contacted through county outreach programs. Help for substance abuse or financial issues will be provided to at-risk individuals as needed, and social work services will also be available.

Sustainable housing advocates spoke in favor of the project, including Becks Heyhoe, executive director of United to End Homelessness—an initiative of Orange County United Way that launched in 2018.

“Permanent supportive housing is a national best practice to be able to address homelessness,” Heyhoe said. “Jamboree has been a fantastic partner of ours for many years, and we can vouch that they build beautiful developments that any city would be proud of.”

Councilmembers also praised city staff for their “creative” approach to the development and work in putting the project together.

“The permanent supportive housing is a great step forward,” Mayor Pro Tem Howard Hart said. “It’s truly, as one speaker mentioned, the best practice.”

The project has been reviewed by other city advisory boards, including the Design Review Committee, who have recommended approval with some suggested design tweaks—including a bike storage rack for the future residents.

As part of the new City Hall plans, the Council Chambers where City Council meetings are held could be moved to the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Camino Del Avion. City staff will work out of temporary office space—the exact location of which is yet to be identified—during the interim while the new City Hall is under construction.

“The City of San Juan Capistrano has long been housed in temporary housing,” Assistant City Manager Charlie View said. “If you go and read the dedication plaque at the front, it’s about 50 years ago we started using this for government use.”

Councilmember Troy Bourne said the project is something city officials will look back on and be proud of in the future.

“I want to compliment staff. It’s creative,” Bourne said. “I appreciate the compliments from the public, but we’re really fortunate to have a lot of factors in play creatively brought together by staff and Jamboree that allowed us to do this that would have been more difficult if it was located somewhere else.”

Collin Breaux

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 cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.   

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