Plans to Extend San Juan Creek Road to La Pata On the Horizon?
Guest Column By Ian J. Smith
Do you live in San Juan? Do you live off San Juan Creek Road or have children attending Ambuehl Elementary? If so, read on; this issue may greatly impact you.
Look closely at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) map within this article. Note the dotted lines at the end of San Juan Creek Road, where it dead ends at the open space property. According to County planning documents, these dotted lines indicate plans for future road widening and/or extension. This map has been available for a while and does state that roads with dotted lines “may not” be constructed; why now should we be concerned? Here’s why…
2017 Master Plan of Arterial Highways map from OCTA shows dotted line indicating planned extension of San Juan Creek Road. Map Credit:Orange County Transportation Agency
In mid-December, I became aware of construction activity at the Riding Park entrance off Avenida La Pata. There is a newly widened entrance and exit being built which just happens to line up in a westerly direction towards the current ending of San Juan Creek Road. After three months of asking questions and getting nowhere at City Hall, I finally learned that this construction was authorized by our City Council in November 2013, in accordance with the 2010 Purchase Contract when the City bought the “open space” from the Rancho Mission Viejo Company. It grants construction easements to the county and the Ranch. Once again this contract reminds our residents that we continue to bear the negative burdens of the extensive restrictions contained within the Purchase Agreement. Curious about the new alignment of the entrance off La Pata, I requested documents from the City to try and determine who had approved what, and more specifically, who had made these costly decisions for this re-alignment. I was very concerned about what appeared to be an obvious delay to my document request filed last December. I was not receiving answers despite my personal outreach to my District 5 Council Member, Brian Maryott. These issues happen to be in his and my District so I thought surely he would be in the know. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, and it took me until early March and two more demands to finally verify who had approved the construction of the new entrance off La Pata. But the questioned remained; why?
It wasn’t until I reviewed the county planning documents that I finally found what I believe may be the answer. The number of vehicle trips the new Ranch development east of town will add is estimated to be 185,000 vehicle trips per day on the surrounding roads. Our “friend” the Ranch needs the road capacity for their massive development, which could well explain the county map which shows San Juan Creek Road being extended through to La Pata.
Residents who live off San Juan Creek Road, parents of children who attend Ambuehl Elementary School and equestrians who board and ride their horses at the stables on San Juan Creek Road will all be impacted by the added traffic that an extended San Juan Creek Road would generate. The speed limit would potentially need to be increased, and possibly traffic controls signals added.
Some may argue that these roads cannot be extended without city council approval. But one thing we have learned is that the Ranch has been working with the county for about 20 years to accommodate the new city they are building on our eastern border and between these two entities, the Ranch gets what they want. I can envision the city agreeing to allow “temporary” use of San Juan Creek Road as a “detour” while Ortega is being widened in order to accommodate more traffic from the Ranch development. The problem is that allowing “temporary” use could be the proverbial “foot in the door” to permanent extension of the road.
The question now is will our District representative, Council member Maryott, fight to protect our neighborhoods from the onslaught of traffic? We must all stay focused and express to Council member Maryott our objections to any extension of these two neighborhood roads. This must be started now, before any road extensions, “temporary” or not, are approved. This city should not continue to succumb to the needs of outside developers who use our tax dollars to create profits at our expense.
Write to Brian Maryott RIGHT AWAY at firstname.lastname@example.org, to let him know how you feel. Please send a copy to CCS so we can gauge and report your responses (no names will be printed). The time is now to put a stop to any plans that may be in the works.
Ian Smith is a ten year resident of SJC. He is a retired Hospitality Management Executive with over 20 years’ experience in London, UK hotels and restaurants. He moved to the US in 1978 where he centered his career in private city and country clubs. After becoming a US Citizen while in Chicago, he and his wife Deborah moved to Los Angeles where he managed private golf clubs. He retired in 2006.