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Jan Siegel By Jan Siegel

As we all know, nothing in San Juan Capistrano ever happens quickly. For at least the past 30 years, there has been talk of replacing the “temporary” City Hall on Adelanto. But the big problem has always been money. And, of course, each year, the cost became higher and higher—so the “temporary” City Hall has been around for almost 50 years! But maybe there is light at the end of this “temporary” tunnel.

City reports state, “Jamboree Housing Corporation, a full-service real estate development company with more than 30 years of experience, specializing in the construction, acquisition, and management of affordable housing for lower-income households, has submitted plans to the City to demolish the existing City Hall buildings and construct a new two-story City Hall and an adjoining three-story, 50-unit apartment building of affordable housing, which would be owned and maintained by Jamboree Housing.”

In exchange for giving Jamboree Housing the right to build a City Hall and apartment complex on the city-owned property, there is no exchange of money. Jamboree builds its units, and the city gets a new City Hall. 

Jamboree is a nonprofit organization that has grown into a community development leader. As the State of California keeps pushing municipalities to build more affordable housing, the need for this type of cooperation between government and the private sector becomes more important. Jamboree not only addresses the affordable and low-cost housing concerns, but the homeless as well. All of their developments have on-site people to help those with mental and drug-related problems.  And a certain percentage of their apartments go to veterans. Their corporate strategy “generates jobs, promotes healthy living and supportive housing.”

I always say everything has a San Juan Capistrano connection. And it is true! Roger Kinoshita, Business Development Director for Jamboree, is the grandson/grandnephew of the Kinoshita brothers who farmed the area that is now The Ecology Center and City Community Center. 

One of the cost-saving features for the new City Hall is not having Council Chambers, which is space that is not continually in use. The council and the meetings needed to meet in a chamber would move to the Community Center. The city would update the sound system, add a movable dais, and upgrade the large room to accommodate more people than the current chamber. 

This all sounds like a win-win for the city. But like all things in San Juan Capistrano, the process is just beginning. Commissions are weighing in on all aspects of this new project. While the Design Review Committee, the Cultural Heritage Commission, and Planning Commission are in general agreement about the development, there are some concerns about parking and City Hall design—among others—that need to be addressed. But the process is moving on. And, hopefully, it will not take another 30 years to get a permanent City Hall.

This is your city. This will be your City Hall. Spend a “Moment in Time” and let the City Council know how you feel about this changing project in San Juan Capistrano.

Oversight: Oops! Last month, I left off the walking tours in town by the San Juan Historical Guides. The guides meet on the train platform on Verdugo Street every Sunday at 1 p.m. The one-hour walk through the Historic District also visits the Montanez Adobe. Donations are appreciated. For further information, call 949.503.1632. You can also reach them at sanjuanhistoricalguides@gmail.com. 

Jan Siegel was a 33-year resident of San Juan Capistrano and now resides in the neighboring town of Rancho Mission Viejo. She served on the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission for 13 years, has been a volunteer guide for the San Juan Capistrano Friends of the Library’s architectural walking tour for 26 years and is currently the museum curator for the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. She was named Woman of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 2005, Volunteer of the Year in 2011 and was inducted into the city’s Wall of Recognition in 2007.

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