By Brian Park
The developer of the San Juan Hotel & Villas project said this week that the city of San Juan Capistrano has placed unnecessary roadblocks to undermine his plan and that he now intends on taking legal action.
Joshua Host, principal of Urban Village, said in an email that City Manager Karen Brust and members of her staff have “maliciously created unnecessary obstacles for our project.” Specifically, Host said after more than a year of working his proposal toward approval, city staff said the residential component of his project required an amendment to align the General Plan with the Historic Town Center Master Plan, which was approved in 2012 and cost the city about $500,000 and two years of studying.
The discovery occurred in the days leading up to the City Council’s meeting to vote on the project in late June. Charlie View, the city’s development services director, and City Attorney Hans Van Ligten said the city could not legally move forward without an amendment.
Host and his land-use attorneys have contended that no amendment was required and that when their project was first brought to the city, former planning directors Grant Taylor and Bill Ramsey agreed.
Although city staff and the Planning Commission recommended approving the amendment, it failed to pass on the council’s 2-2 vote on Aug. 5, with Councilmen Roy Byrnes and Derek Reeve voting in opposition. Councilman John Taylor recused himself because of his residence nearby. The failed amendment not only voided the 30 homes in the project but eliminated homes in the historic downtown.
“It is not our intent to sue the city. In fact, our intent is to build a high-end hotel and villas that are desperately needed downtown,” Host wrote. “Instead of meeting to resolve the issue created by the city, they have fortified their position to avoid blame from impending fallout. In my humble opinion, this is no way to run a city.”
Urban Village has yet to file a lawsuit.
“The city has not received any information, so we are not in a position to comment at this time,” Cathy Salcedo, a spokesperson for the city, said in an email.