JEFF VASQUEZ, San Juan Capistrano
The Los Rios Specific Plan was created specifically to protect the homes in the Los Rios Historic District from the impacts of commercial development. It has served us well for almost 40 years. Every SJC City Council, with the exception of the most recent two, has defended and revered its importance.
Shopping centers are nothing new in SJC. We have several in town that generate sales taxes, traffic, noise, smells and, more recently, homeless encampments. The impacts of this development are severely understated and, in fact, almost ignored in the environmental impact report paid for by the developer.
River Street backs up against the homes on Los Rios Street with no project setbacks. It’s almost six times the development intensity permitted under the Los Rios Specific Plan. It will create more traffic gridlock on Del Obispo, at intersections already rated F.
If you want some perspective on how massive this project is, imagine a corrugated metal building as tall as the eaves of the new hotel. Now add four more buildings of almost equal height and a water tower. The Marketplace building is a single-story structure. Why not make it 20-feet tall instead of 40 feet and move all of the buildings away from Los Rios Street to lessen the project impacts on the Historic District?
This is what happens when established building standards are ignored and staff looks the other way. The Los Rios Specific Plan already limits the building height, setbacks and the types of uses permitted.
We have a perfect storm happening in our town. The General Plan, the Los Rios Specific Plan and Historic Town Center Master Plan are all being changed to accommodate a developer who has several properties in the development process that require zone changes.
It’s time to show up and let the council know how you feel. Developers and city councils come and go, but residents are the ones who get stuck picking up the tab.
I hope you will join me on July 2 at 5 p.m. in the council chambers. The future of our historic town is at stake.