San Juan Capistrano

       Major Traffic Increases on the Horizon 

                                              by Kim Lefner

Anyone trying to get through town knows that traffic in our small town is a mess. It’s not just the new freeway interchange project; the traffic was backed up before that project even started. 
Compounding the problem are development projects that have been approved but not yet built. The largest of these in terms of traffic, is the Distrito La Novia project. Traffic studies estimate 8,000 additional car trips per day added to our already crowded streets, including haulers removing the estimated 25 tons of waste daily from the 775-horse Equestrian Center approved on that site. “Mitigation measures” proposed by the Draft Environmental Impact Report (“DEIR”) consisted only of “lane striping”, “street alignments”, or “payment of in lieu fees”. There was no plan in the DEIR for the daily disposal of the 25 tons of horse manure.

 Other developments approved but not yet built include: 
  • Pacifica San Juan/Sea Country - 416 homes, 96 built as of April, 2014. Above the CUSD headquarters building.
  • Ventanas - 236,329sf of two-story office buildings. Commercial development at the end of Calle Arroyo (near 24 Hour Fitness shopping center). Approved for. Rumors are circulating that the land owners now want to request approval for a medical center and hotel on that site.·
  • Centra Pointe - 34,874sf of two-story office buildings. Rancho Viejo Road across from Marbella Plaza. Under construction.
  • Oliva residential development; 31 approved/ nine more proposed. Under construction , on Del Obispo, across the street from Armstrong’s Nursery/Vermeulen Ranch Center (where the proposed Spieker Development would be built if approved).
  • The Oaks - 32 homes (at last count) on the former Oaks Equestrian Center site.
A review of traffic studies for the above projects lists the “Level of Service” (“LOS”) at key intersections in San Juan (you can guess which ones). LOS is measured on a scale of A-F, with “F” being essentially, “Failing”. The “minimum acceptable” LOS at these intersections is level “E”. According to City standards “E” represents, “the most vehicles that any particular intersection can accommodate.” I counted ten “E” intersections at peak hours in the traffic studies I reviewed - and that’s before these projects are built. 
According to the 2010 Distrito La Novia DEIR, “A total of 16 other planned and/or approved (related) projects would generate a total of 26,721 daily trips” - in addition to existing traffic on San Juan streets.
None of this takes into consideration the traffic that will be generated by the 14,000 homes and 5 million sf of commercial/retail the Ranch has plans to develop on our Eastern border, which is now under construction. 

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