Guest Column - San Juan Capistrano

   What Would Judge Egan Think?

                             By Kerry Ferguson

Photo here I don’t exactly know what Judge Richard Egan would think about the proposed 3-story San Juan Hotel and 3-story villas the Urban Village Company plans to develop merely a few feet from the judge’s beautiful brick Victorian home on Camino Capistrano.

I do know what it was that brought my great grandparents here in the 1880’s – elbow room. They purposely left the crowded cities of the East and headed west looking for room to raise their families. If there was anything they didn’t want, it was every last space crowded to the hilt.
Historic Egan House on Camino Capistrano

Packing our little Historic Downtown with "high density" projects that need parking for guests, employees and event goers will further pressure our streets and parking facilities.

It is great to look down the east side of Camino Capistrano from the Mission and see charming and varied vintage buildings mixed with lovely little parks all the way to the Egan House.
Looking down the other side of the street an equally eclectic mix of very old with some new meets the eye.

1f the proposed hotel was built as planned, a 2-story wall would dwarf the Egan House with only a few feet in-between the two. The rest of the 136 rooms in three stories would tower over it across the back of the property. In addition, a bank of 33 three-story townhouses are designed to back up to Heritage Park. This would set up a situation where homeowners would be pitted against concert goers and others who enjoy community events in the evenings and on weekends.

A downtown hotel in itself is a great idea – restaurants and stores would love to have a vibrant downtown every night of the week. A few more people living downtown isn’t such a bad idea, either.

It just seems that we shouldn’t have to give up the soul of our town in order to strengthen commerce.

A friend of my granddad, Charles Lummis, joined with his friends Judge Richard Egan and Marcos Foster to save the Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1896. He said of our town, “Nobody comes here to see us grow…a vast proportion are attracted by our romance.” It is our romance that the San Juan Hotel and Villas would diminish. By shoe-horning a huge 3-story building and block of 3-story townhomes onto a small space, obscuring the Egan House, and creating more traffic, parking and water problems, a last refuge of romance in the West would be lost.

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