CVHS Parking Decision Celebrated
By Don Wilder
On Saturday afternoon, July 11, about 30 residents of the Coronado homes, Mission Viejo’s southernmost neighborhood, celebrated a decision by the Mission Viejo City Council that will help preserve the quality of life for local residents. Residents were joined by Mayor Cathy Schlicht.
|Residents of the Coronado homes neighborhood |
gather to celebrate the City Council decision
For years since Capistrano Valley High School (CVHS) first opened in 1974, residents of these Coronado homes had endured the growing problems of student parking on the neighborhood streets, along with litter, the inappropriate behavior of some students and commuter traffic congestion on their otherwise quiet residential streets. Neither the high school administration nor the Capistrano Unified School District had done much to mitigate the problems, at one point even tacitly approving the use of the nearby residential streets to augment the adequate but inconvenient student parking on campus.
The problem exists because 1) two easements exist from the school campus into the neighborhood and the layout that makes several neighborhood streets significantly closer to the athletic fields and some classrooms than to the school’s own parking lots, and 2) the main access road to the campus (two-lane Via Escolar) becomes a traffic jam at the beginning and end of the regular school day, making it easier for school commuters (parents dropping off and picking up their high school kids) to use four-lane Avery Pkwy and the Coronado residential streets. CVHS has three parking lots available to students, none of which are closer to the athletic fields than some of the residential on-street parking.
Since the problem began, dozens of meetings have been held by Coronado’s (unofficial and voluntary) homeowners association, by the City’s Planning and Transportation Commission and by the City Council to try to solve or at least mitigate the problem. Several years ago, the City did approve a plan that allowed parking on school days by permit only between the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that greatly mitigated the problem. However, due to the closer proximity of the neighborhood streets to the school athletic fields and other facilities used after regular school hours, during last period after 1:30 p.m., students would move their cars and park on the neighborhood streets, in many cases leaving no on-street parking for local residents near their own homes.
Finally, when petitioned by residents, the City extended the restricted parking hours to 5:30 p.m. on a temporary trial period. Most residents were pleased that the parking issues had, as a result, been effectively resolved. But some were not pleased with the new restricted hours, and they rallied a number of dissidents who were mostly parents of CVHS students, all but one or two of whom do not live in the neighborhood, to have the matter brought to the Planning and Transportation Commission once again in an attempt to roll back the restricted hours to 1:30 p.m.
The City Council was given several alternatives to consider: i.e., make no change to the current hours (9:30 – 5:30), change the hours back to 9:30 to 1:30 or alternatively 9:30-2:45 (to coincide with the school's dismissal time), to maintain “No Parking” along Avery Pkwy, and to place a two-year moratorium on this issue coming before the City Council again. The council approved no change to the current hours, agreed to not allow parking along Avery Pkwy, and to not revisit this issue for at least two years. For this, the residents met to have a pizza party to celebrate.
While this action does resolve the parking problem for residents, it does nothing to resolve the traffic and congestion in the neighborhood because parent commuters will still be able to use this residential area to drop off and pick up their students rather than use the primary access to the school up Via Escolar. Commuters often block driveways or double-park while waiting in their cars for their students to come for their ride home after school, which causes much congestion in the neighborhood.
It is noteworthy that the boundary between the cities of Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano is on Via Escolar. San Juan Capistrano’s northernmost neighborhood is directly across Via Escolar from CVHS. However, the City of San Juan Capistrano has chosen to protect its residents from the issues caused by the proximity of the high school by restricting any stopping in the neighborhood except by permit on school days. No stopping, no parking, no problem.
Don Wilder, a resident of Mission Viejo since 1970, retired from the law department of a major computer systems manufacturing and services company. He has two children both of whom are graduates of Capistrano Valley High School.