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By Matt Gaffney, San Juan Capistrano

In 1990, San Juan Capistrano voters approved Measure D, which uses our tax money to purchase private properties within the city and convert them to public use, thereby saving them from possible commercial development. Through this measure, our city has acquired undeveloped land that preserves our agricultural heritage (Kinoshita Farm), provides for additional recreational uses (Sports Park), extends equestrian trails (Northwest Open Space), and meets other community needs (Community Center/Boys & Girls Club).

The Vermeulen family’s property on Del Obispo Street was evaluated for acquisition in 1990 and 2008, but the city decided to purchase other properties that better met its objectives. The Vermeulens have now proposed to develop a portion of their property as an upscale retirement community. Hundreds of local seniors have expressed interest and environmental and traffic students commissioned by the city show the proposed project to be low impact. The Vermeulens intend to continue to own and operate their neighborhood grocery and garden center next door.

Over the next few months, the Planning Commission and the City Council will evaluate and vote on the merits of the proposed project, but one thing is already certain. You will hear outcries such as, “Preserve our open space” and “Save our farms,” which are both inaccurate and unfair. The Vermeulen property is not, and has never been “open space” and it has not been a “farm” for decades. There is nothing planted on the largely-asphalt site that is now used as a distribution center for potted plants.

It is also decidedly not “ours.” It belongs to the family who purchased it and worked it for the past half century. We had the opportunity to buy it and decided not to. We now need to honor our decision, respect the family’s property rights and allow them to develop their property in a reasonable way.

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comments (4)

  • The original plan in 1990 was to keep a small portion of the city protected from developers. Now the developers are at it again. This resent proposal is just another way to erase the farm/garden/agriculture, that has been a beacon of community sphere. What makes this senior proposal any different from homes & condos ? Stop the development, leave the location as is .
    Save the atmosphere. Dump the developers !

  • What you say is largely true in the sense of the recent history of the property, except for the traffic study. Even though this is a “seniors” project, exclusive to the wealthy, and with an entry age under 70, can you not imagine that a large portion of them (who MUST be able to live indepentently in order to move in) will not still be driving? The City has a responsibility to study this aspect of the project very carefully as you cannot reasonably put 400 more cars through that small intersection with Del Obispo. Second is the water impact of that many units. 400 units means 600 folks at least, if not more.

    The representative at the project told me that they would put 1,000,000 chickens there if the City reduced the number of units they could build.

  • The title of this article is inaccurate. Vermeulen is not the developer.

  • @ “RUSH” – I’m not sure how you define “small” when you say “The original plan in 1990 was to keep a small portion of the city protected from developers.” The city is more than 42 percent open space, most of that protected from “developers” forever.

    On this property, the Ecology Center, Kinoshita Farms and Sports Park are forever open space. The schools add more open space with their playgrounds.

    This property is privately owned and the project will be an asset to our community. Bonnie, not sure if you’ve taken the time to visit the other projects by this developer, but please go to Carlsbad and check it out. Very few residents have cars — they don’t need them. Many of the services they need (cafeteria and doctor) are on-site, and there’s a shuttle system into town. Why own a car (and expense) if you don’t need one?

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