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July 09, 2007


San Juan Joe

Here Here!!! This is a clear case of the current council trying to tie the hands of future councils in SJC. It is very frustrating to see elected reps passing the buck on tough decisions by holding expensive elections. Unfortunately back bones are not a prerequisite to running for office down here in south county.


What is it with these council members trying to create a direct democracy. What the heck did we elect them for? Lets just throw out the whole legislative process and hold an election for everything.

San Juan voter

Allow me to offer a perspective from a resident and homeowner in San Juan Capistrano who has spoken with hundreds of voters about this issue. The majority of residents here resent outsiders like the Building Industry Association's spokeperson giving any "insight" into BIA members' plans to develop residential and commercial units (and lots of them) in San Juan's Open Space. What makes San Juan unique is their Open Space and the fact that this is an equestrian community. Most residents here would like to keep it that way, within reason. At least that's what they indicated with their vote in the last election, in which they summarily tossed out long-term incumbents who were clearly tied to big-time developers. They view these developers as members of the "good ol' boys club" who want to make buckets of money by convincing a mere THREE council members to amend the General Plan and re-zone OPEN SPACE to high-density residential and commercial development in San Juan, leaving gridlock traffic and infrastructure strain in their wake. THEY don't live with the consequences -the voters here do. It took only THREE of the previous council members to defy the will of the majority of San Juan voters, despite advisory referendums and petitions expressing the voters' wishes. Finally, the voters said "enough" and elected a council majority that affirmed it's willingness to actually REPRESENT them and let the voters decide how much traffic and strain on schools, water, etc., they want to live with. Hooray for democracy!

Common sense in SJC

The citizens of San Juan Cap are strangled by traffic. In fact, one of our recent opinion polls ranked traffic as a main concern of voters here. We are a main thouroghfare for south county and a choke point for traffic. We will never recieve any kind of traffic mitigation or improvements if development stops. The fact is...the rest of south county will continue to grow around us. Traffic will increase and the local population will grow (whether we like it or not). The idea that if you stop development than you will stop growth and traffic is a bury your head in sand attempt at a solution. This ordinance will make it impossible for San Juan to adapt to the impending growth around us. It will futher our traffic problems (not to mention park and rec maintenece, library and public safety services. You think we have an equestrian community now???wait until 2025...you are going to need those horses because the only way to get around will be through all of that open space you plan to lock up.

David Zenger

I am coming to the conclusion - mostly based on the ongoing Suncal/Disney fiasco - that General Plan Amendments, Specific Plan Implementation, and Zone changes should require a super majority to implement. It seems far too easy for a simple majority to annul previous council decisions and too easy to implement the latest planning fad.

The resort to referenda may be lamentable but it clearly reflects dissatisfaction with a system that appears too easy for development interests to control.


"It seems far too easy for a simple majority to annul previous council decisions and too easy to implement the latest planning fad."

I assume you mean infill development. This "fad" is the only answer that we have left in Orange County to deal with the housing needs of our County's growing population. It is disturbing to hear a Planning Commisioner for the County say such things. Esspecially when the Supervisor that appointed him is generally in favor of reuse and revitalization as a means to addressing our housing crisis.

David Zenger

Well, Nimby I'm sorry you're "disturbed." Since I never said anything about "infill development" as a fad or or as anything else, you leapt to your own conclusion on that. The urban planning world is full of fads (always has been), from New Urbanism to TODs to, well, you name it.

Why not address my point? Shouldn't it be relatively dificult to place encumbrances on property, or to overturn a decision that was reached by a previous council (usually at great expense to the taxpayer via consultants and studies) as is happening in Anaheim?

What happened in San Juan was that 3 council members tied to developers amended the General Plan and re-zoned recreational open space to high-density residential. The scheduled development was "high-end, upscale" condos. This had nothing to do with housing needs, but rather, greed. It would have provided a benefit to no one except the developers who stood to gain a huge profit. In fact, the development consortium bought the property as open space right before they brought it before their 3 buddies on the city council to have it re-zoned. The development (189 condos) would have brought more congestion to an already traffic-choked small town. This is not an anomaly - I'm sure that the people who post here who are tied to developers know this scenario well.

To the resident of San Juan who stated above that we need MORE development in order to pay for traffic mitigation, I say this: how much traffic mitigation have developers done in the past 5 years? The answer; next to zero. The city has taken "in lieu of" fees and put it towards everything BUT traffic mitigation (another reason the incumbents lost so badly in the last election), which has caused....more traffic. It's ludicrous to suggest that bringing even more traffic into this small town before fixing the traffic problems we already have will somehow benefit the residents of San Juan. If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you...


"The urban planning world is full of fads (always has been), from New Urbanism to TODs to, well, you name it."

Ok...what else. BTW, New Urbanism is Infill Development. TODs are not a fad, infact they have been building TODs since the invention of the choo choo train.

If you were not talking about Infill then what fad were you refering to in your initial comment?

David Zenger

No Nimby, New Urbanism is not urban infill, It is redesign of suburban landscapes to emulate days gone by in the hope of creating a sense of authenticity. Developers must attach front porches to fake-old houses, etc. They go along because they can build narrow streets, subdivide small lots and get more units. The very name of "New Urbanism" is misleading.

On the other hand, your knee-jerk association of the ideas of "fad" and "urban infill" says more about you than me, since I never made the connection.

The list of planning fads is too long to enumerate - one piled on top of another, in fact, and all adequately documented in the "professional" journals; and besides that wasn't the point of my original comment - which you have deliberately avoided in an effort to start an irrelevant argument.

(BTW, TODs are a fad - and have thus become the darlings of Redevelopment agencies: a direction of resources that benefit a realtive few, already subsidized "choo-choo" users (i.e relatively affluent commuters). In the past the train stations and train yards were sure to be surrounded by low-low-low rent districts. Low income housing, in fact - hardly the aim of the modern TOD.)

And now I have to go water my vegetables - I'm tired of trying to cultivate you.

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