Kent Lihme, Mission Viejo

The hopes and dreams of 600 elderly people and their local families may be crushed—the hope for a pleasant, secure and caring home and the dream of having children and grandchildren living nearby.

Why? Because a small number of other residents say these elderly people will clog up their streets. How? By quietly living out their lives at the planned Laguna Glen senior home.

It’s sad. Every traffic study shows there would be no traffic impact. Seniors don’t drive much, certainly not during peak traffic hours. However, they do shop and volunteer within the community.

The senior facility would also provide a great deal of tax revenue and job opportunities to the community, plus greater value to the property. Without Laguna Glen, the property’s use would remain industrial agriculture—a very limited use and much less valued. But perhaps it has other uses.

The property is mostly surfaced; it has plenty of water and is close to the freeway. The current or future owners could easily erect portable buildings, sheds, fences and feed troughs for agricultural industry use—perfect as a hog farm, chicken ranch or cattle feed lot.

Of course, that would raise the noise level, create a stench, attract flies and drive away visitors to the community, but traffic would likely be minimal. Just trucks rumbling through town hauling in livestock and feed and hauling out dung. Stench and flies would go both ways.

Unfortunately, while the animals would not be as much of an asset to the community as would the seniors, San Juan Capistrano would certainly know they have an agricultural industry in the neighborhood.

Obviously that’s only one scenario, but the possibility seems more likely right now. Still, which would you prefer? What the seniors would contribute to the community or what a bunch of hogs would?

Your choice.

About The Author Capo Dispatch

comments (44)

  • It’s obvious that you know little to nothing about senior projects, traffic studies, or economics in general.

    • I’m disappointed that you weren’t able to adhere to the “Please be nice” direction here on the website and decided it was appropriate to type such rude things to someone who had the guts to write a letter to the editor. Moreover, I’m sad that I keep reading comments from you, Mr. Worthington and Ms. Stone….but that’s my own fault, isn’t it. I will in the future choose not to read this publication and the nastiness and misrepresentation of facts from its three favorite readers.

      • Clint Worthington

        Cindy Borden, please explain exactly which comment was rude ? Each and every comment is fact based. If you do not like the fact that I have presented, that is certainly your choice. But, they are not rude.

  • Clint Worthington

    By looking at the election results, it was not a “small number of other residents”. As for not impact by the traffics studies, consider that if you laid the 1,759 vehicles in the number if vehicular trips per day end to end, that line of vehicles would be 6.66 miles long ! Our traffic can’t tolerate ten more vehicles let alone a line of cars 6.66 miles long.

    I am glad that you mentioned the portable buildings, sheds, and fences as they are already located on the lot, As for feed troughs, pigs and chickens, it appears that you have not been here when they fertilize. We already have that odor now. But we knew that when we all purchased our homes here that it was zoned agriculture and not hi-density housing. Oh, and about those chickens you mentioned, the Municipal Code does require that even in land zoned Agri-Business, chickens must be kept 300 feet away from a residential area. Just to give you an additional heads up on the chickens, there are some deadly diseases that chickens can catch, that does require that the ground remain fallow for 25 years so that the disease does not spread further.

    Thank you Mr. Lehme for being so concerned about our well being all the way from Mission Viejo. I number of us remember Mission Viejo replacing Old Macdonalds Farm with the Kaliedescope Center. The Kaleiedescope Center has not exactly done too well has it Mr. Lehme with its revolving door of tennants and vacancies ? Maybe that should have just stayed Old Macdonalds Farm and pleased generations of children’s and adults. On the other hand that is Mission Viejo and I don’t want to tell you what to do in Mission Viejo.

    • Just for the record…..there are many types of senior housing projects. San Juan Capistrano has many, Mission Viejo has many, Laguna Niguel has many, San Clemente has some, Dana Point has some….etc. So, it is not the case that Laguna Glen was the ONLY choice for hundreds of seniors. Indeed, very few would be able to afford to live there.

  • Ms. Benton,

    The pricing for the retirement community would have been affordable to a broad base of residents of San Juan Capistrano and neighboring cities like your own. There are no continuing care retirement communities in South Orange County that offer the comprehensive package that would have been provided at the new community. If you’d like to further understand our company’s pricing or package of services, please give me a call or stop by.

    Mr. Worthington,

    I was not aware that you had purchased a home near the Vermeulen site. Congratulations. I assume that you purchased your home after the Vermeulen’s purchased their property 60 years ago and that your home was built on land that was formally agriculture like the Vermeulens. Given your opposition to 10 more cars, what do you propose would be a fair and attractive use for the Vermuelen’s land now that Armstrong is leaving?

    • Mr. Bourne~ I have done my “due diligence” on your proposed project as well as many others. You, obviously, have not or you would know more about Mr. Worthington.

      A “fair and attractive use”……as defined by whom? The City zoning code? How about an organic vegetable farm? With a drip system of irrigation. Or the 1,000,000 chickens I was promised by your representative.

      • Thanks for your response, Bonnie. I feel like the retirement community was a fair and attractive use, but it’s clear you do not. If your opinion is that an organic vegetable farm is a fair use to the property owners, we disagree. I would encourage you to research the fair market value for farmland in San Juan Capistrano (the city collects rent on the farm across the street), and then look into minimum farm sizes considered to be economically viable by the CA Dept. of Conservation. That was evaluated as part of the Environmental Impact Report conducted for the retirement community.

      • Your idea of “value” of the Vermeulen property was conditioned on a change in zoning.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, of course you thought the property was a fair and attractive use. You were developing it. However, an overwhelming majority if the residents did not find that your project was a fair and attractive use. In fact, your project upset so many people in our town that they voted out at the election every city council member they could who voted for your project Troy Bourne.

    • Clint Worthington

      Troy Bourne, if it matters, the home I had purchased was previously used for cattle grazing as part of the Bar G Ranch near the Vermeulen site. Not everything was agriculture.

    • Clint Worthington

      Troy Bourne, the temporary use permit for your temporary buildings located in the parking lot expired in November. You have already been cited for by the City for not having removed the buildings as the permit has expired. Are you going to remove the temporary buildings as they are now illegal and not permitted ?

      Mr. Bourne, when you cannot even have a legal temporary building, it sure makes you wonder how in the world you could do anything else when just a temporary building is illegal.

  • Troy…We have been over this territory before. The Environmental Impact Report was not accurate. A report was done using two vendors to study the impact of traffic and other areas of concern. The car count on hot spots on Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano were dirived from a report prepared in 2010 be another Vendor due to construction in process in 2013. The car counts from 2013 were plugged into areas of less congestion. Further, the car counts were taken using “peak” traffice from 4:30 – 5:30 mid week 3 days on all reports. Peak in San Juan Capistrano is not PEAK in other cities. San Juan Capistrano has 10 private schools. Traffic piles up on Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano at 2:30 – 3:30 as the car pool moms files in to pick up kids from school. Our town is quite unige in that we have so many private schools in addition to public schools. Add to that the fact that the planning commission did not approve this project. It was approved by the Allevato, Taylor, Kramer block of councilmen who backed developers. The residents of SJC are going to be paying closer attention to those EIR’s in the furture.

    • Thanks, Donna. The Environmental Impact Report was not conducted by the applicant. It was conducted under the supervision of city staff by licensed independent third parties. The public (including government agencies) was notified and given the opportunity to comment. Many did. All the comments were addressed by the city staff and those comments were also made available for public review. There was a formal challenge period granted after the city certified the EIR. The new council majority elected not to challenge but to let the EIR stand.

      I think it is fair for you to criticize the work of the engineers. But please recognize that the work was conducted, supervised and reviewed by independent professionals not by the applicant or the city council. Admittedly, engineers view traffic patterns quantitatively rather than qualitatively, but they all agreed that the senior community would have generated far less traffic than any of the surrounding uses.

      I’lll ask you the same question I asked Bonnie and Clint. What do you think would be a fair use on the property and how do you propose we realize it?

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, a fair use of the property would start with the property being legal. Currently, you have your trailers on the property for which the permits expired in November. You have been cited by the City for the illegal trailers already.

        It would be great if you could conduct your business legally Troy Bourne.

  • and don’t forget, chickens catch diseases that leave the land fallow for 25 years … say what!?!

  • Yes, Bonnie. You are correct. The property has no value with its current general plan designation. However, state law prohibits cities from placing zoning restrictions on properties that prevent owners from economically beneficial use of their property. Cities are also prohibited from “spot zoning”, defined as imposing restrictions that create an isolated area of minimum zoning surrounded by less restrictive zoning. Lastly, because the city has publicly and repeatedly stated its interest in owning the property for agricultural preservation, it is prevented from using zoning law to force the property owners to bear a public burden.

    Apart from the legal limits on the city’s formal action, does it feel fair to you to ask the last farmers in town to give up all economic value from the land they have farmed for decades so that neighbors living on former farms can enjoy a view of their property?

  • Troy… You did discuss the scope of your project with Mr. View and other city personnel as this is the process…correct? You had to give the city a scope of your proposed project so that the city could tailor a draft EIR for an engineering firm, correct? On a project as large as 30 acres and 500 dwellings there would have been a scope of work prepared by your people. This EIR is not just a boilerplate document where you can plug in the traffic , water and plumbing. The city developed a draft EIR and gave it to a firm who they typically use. But, unless someone told the engineers that PEAK for SJC is between 2:30 – 5:30 they would not know. Too many important facts are falling through the crack. Residents of SJC need higher visibility on the development process and the developers themselves. SJC residents are going to be looking more carefully in the future. No more rubber stamp developments.
    I think a great use of the property would be a park. I think we should sell the land on La Pata and make the Vermulen family an offer. That is my suggestion.

    • Thanks, Donna. The scope of the proposed retirement community was worked out with staff through a public scoping session and the General Plan Change was initiated UNANIMOUSLY by the city council in 2013 and amended UNANIMOUSLY in early 2014. The public was notified and invited to both review meetings held by the city council as well as the EIR scoping session. Several of your neighbors attended and made comments. I’m not sure how the process could have been more transparent. It is worth noting that Mr. Reeve never voted against the project when it was submitted to the city council for review on either occasion. It wasn’t until the election that he decided to take a political position against it.

      The city did not develop a draft EIR. They hired a firm that they do NOT typically use–LSA (the firm that prepared the draft and final EIR) is considerably more experienced and expensive than the firm the city usually uses. While you may have a disagreement with the methods used by the professional engineers or the hours they measured as peak, the broadly understood fact is that the proposed community was a low traffic generating use.

      While you hold the engineers accountable for the minutia of their trade, I think to be fair to you need to hold the new council accountable for the completely dishonest statements they made about the project in order to get elected and then to defend their position of blocking the promised public vote after they took office. Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Ferguson repeatedly claimed the project would “double traffic on Del Obispo” a statement the city’s own engineers stated was “completely ridiculous”–a 2,000% exaggeration of engineer’s estimates. They made false statements about the project’s size (writing and stating the project was twice its actual size) its affordability (claiming prices were twice their actual level), and its zoning.

      I personally would support the purchase of the property for a public park. The park at La Pata is subject to considerable resale and use restrictions and would not generate enough revenue in itself to buy the Vermeulen property. I do appreciate you offering an idea. When we met with Mayor Reeve and Mrs. Ferguson two weeks ago they suggested we consider a private school. I think a park is a better idea than that but we’d need to identify where the funds are going to come from. If we’re not able to do so I think the site will end up being developed with a use less attractive and more impactful than the proposed retirement community. Would you like to meet and help develop a plan? Maybe others from your neighborhood group would like to be involved as well.

  • Clint Worthington

    Troy Bourne, your project is dead in the water. Do you not get that ?

    • Good morning, Mr. Worthington. I think most are now aware that the senior community will not built on the Vermeulen site. It has been moved to another location and construction is expected to start this summer. The focus for many now is on the ramifications of that move for the city and the neighborhood. I hope that some of the neighbors will play a proactive role is helping form the new plan for the site. For all the complaints about being left out of the process during the previous project’s design phase, it’s ironic that “Save San Juan” founders refuse to participate in the discussions and Pam Patterson refuses to even respond to repeated invitations. I’m hoping Ms. Fleming is different and will help facilitate neighbors playing an active role.

      As to the trailer permits, I’ll admit I don’t understand your enthusiasm for seeing your neighbors thrown out of their place of employment. It may be that, due to their sincere concerns about traffic on Del Objspo, the city council is choosing to postpone our relocation of the trailers until they get the ghost train issue resolved. Their original estimate was that it would be fixed in their first ninety days in office, so I’m sure we’re close.

      • For once, you are correct…..”The park at La Pata is subject to considerable resale and use restrictions and would not generate enough revenue in itself to buy the Vermeulen property” or any other property, for that matter, even if such a fool could be found. The conditions and use restrictions run with the land…..anyone else would have to honor them in the same manner as does the City of SJC. It was a terrible misuse of public money, possibly criminal.

        I must admit I’m curious as to the new location for your project and how it could happen so quickly. Please enlighten all of us. It also seems a bit out of character for you to try to be so helpful to find new uses for the Vermeulen property, unless, of course, you have a significant financial steak.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie, I’m honestly amazed at how much you know about so many things! It’s surprising you don’t know about the change in location of the Laguna Glen project.

        I don’t know how much the Spieker project would have benefited the city, however I think it’s hubris of you to say you know more about senior developments, traffic studies, and economics in general, than our city manager, a company who has been developing award winning retirement communities for over 25 years, many engineers who make it their job to process EIRs such as the one for Laguna Glen, and the writer of this letter, who happens to be a retired city planner.

        I can only believe that the city of Dana Point is a very boring place politically and developmental-wise for you to be so involved in those of San Juan.

      • Dear Optimist….or is that Jonathan?
        Think what you want.

      • Thanks, Bonnie. We were approached immediately by several land owners and neighboring municipalities when the the new city council blocked the public’s vote on the project. We chose the new location because it is so close to the original Vermeulen site and because it is pre-approved for our project’s use and size. Nearly 1,000 local seniors have signed up so it was important to us that it be as close as possible and not subject to further delays by the current council. If you’d like to stop by I’d be happy to fill you in on all the details.

        As to my interest in being helpful for new uses on the Vermeulen property…contrary to the new council’s repeated claims that I am an out of town developer, my family and I live in SJC. For years, our family has attended SJC public schools and I coach several youth sports teams. I drive Del Obispo every day and I regularly use the city’s sports fields and parks. We are on the trails every single week. I believe the retirement community would have been a great, low impact use and that the new council’s dishonest, politically motivated attacks were inappropriate–particularly because good, honest people took them at their word.

        I’d love to see a park on the site–who wouldn’t? But I also believe that the city should pay the Vermeulens a fair price if that is what the new council decides to do with our money. My fear is that the new council will fail to see the property owners’ position as clearly as the courts will and we’ll end up with little say in the matter.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, it is not up to the neighbors to play a role in developing the site. Simply said, the neighbors do not own the property.

        As for the illegal trailers on the property, what part of illegal do you not understand. Mr. Bourne? You have unpermitted illegal trailers located on the property. As for being thrown out of their employment, be serious Troy Bourne, the permit expired FOUR MONTHS ago for the trailers to be there.

        I am so glad you brought up the Ghost Train issue. In eleven years Sam Allevato did nothing to resolve the Ghost Train. Let me bring you up to speed Mr. Bourne, Metrolink has been testing trains the past two weeks the get the exact speed reduction needed to eliminate the Ghost Train. I was not sure if you noticed that the Ghost Train effect has not been happening all the time now. This will be resolved shortly and our City will be a model for the other cities that are having the same problem.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, tell the truth. You have not lived in San Juan that long. When your other project that you failed to get built at the north end of town, you told me at that time that you believe in that project as you live in the homes right above the project. Why can’t you just tell the truth Mr. Bourne, that you move as the projects move ?

        Why can’t you tell the truth that the project at Pleasanton required a second EIR because the first one was flawed ?

  • The development will be built very close to San Juan, but not in San Juan, and all San Juan will get is the increased traffic. Sad to see the tone of these comments and sad to see the same angry few doing all the comments. I was interested in living in this development, and I guess I will retire but not in San Juan.

    • Bill~
      I am not against the project. Just the location and the traffic and water issues it will bring. The project will be subject to the same market forces every project is subject to. But if San Juan will get the increased traffic, can you enlighten those of us who are concerned? I just drove into town to the post office and to Churchill’s for my lottery ticket. Traffic was ONE lane into town from Del Obispo.

      • Hi Bonnie, The project will be built just as designed but not in SJC. As for where, and enlightening you or anyone, I just don’t want to get involved with anything in SJC. The “water” is too hot to touch right now. The city is so split and has so much anger and misinformation that I am not going to add to it. I drive in and out of the city each and every day, and this week may be the worse I have ever seen. Why the city allows construction people to shut down 1 full lane of Rancho Viejo Road for months, is beyond me. During the time the schools get in or out it is horrible on RV Road. If you or anyone tried to use Rancho Viejo or Ortega since they opened the new on ramp you will see it is a disaster. The lights are awful, and no cops around to help.

      • Bill~
        It’s just very curious that any project could get so “fast-tracked” as to be ready to begin construction in 7-8 months! That, alone, tells me where it has to be. Thanks!

    • Clint Worthington

      Bill Odelson, I am sorry you missed the stories regarding the traffic from the 14,000 homes being built to the east of us and the traffic that will bring.

  • Clint, you are the perfect example of what is wrong in SJC. Why start your comment with “I am sorry you missed………………..” What a pompous, anyway, I did not miss anything. There is no reason to start a conversation with such a negative posting. Try talking and being nice to people and maybe someone might take what you say seriously. I will not reply or respond to you. Be well.

    • Mr. Worthington, Ms. Benton, Ms. Stone: “The Mote and the Beam”. Google it.

      Mr. Odelson, you and Ms. Borden seem to be on the smart ones here. It’s time to recognize the provoking and negative nature of these commenters and let them comment without responding or reading them in the first place. These commenters are the voice of what is wrong with SJC – close minded followers and unlikeable mean people. I’m done.

    • Clint Worthington

      Bill Odelson, I am so surprised you are complaining about traffic now when it is nothing compared to when the 14,000 homes are built !

      Next thing you know someone will want to up open up the Honeyman Ranch Road underneath the I5.

      • Once again, Mr. Worthington you read something in my posting (and others) that was not there. I was not complaining about traffic in SJC, I was pointing out how poor the city is doing with traffic flow on Rancho Viejo Road. They are allowing a construction site to close down 1 or 2 north bound lanes on RVR, for several weeks now. The construction site has not used that lane in over 3 weeks, but it remains closed. And as you point out, YES, it would have been very smart and good for SJC to open the underpass of I5 on El Horno, but they blew it then too. I am picking up a pattern in SJC.

      • Clint Worthington

        Bill Odelson, when someone takes the time to write “Why the city allows construction people to shut down 1 full lane of Rancho Viejo Road for months, is beyond me”, maybe it is just me, but I read that as a complaint.

    • Clint Worthington

      Bill Odelson, I know people having a different opinion than you is wrong. We should all have the same opinion as you.

      • For the first and probably the only time Mr. Worthington you have said something correct when you post that all people should have the same opinion as me. Thanks. I won’t reply to anything else you post as its just more of the same you have done for years. But thanks for being correct at least this once.

      • Clint Worthington

        Bill Odelson, that is ok. I will continue to support small business and use your store.

      • I agree Bill, Clint needs new material.

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