Letter to the Editor

                      Proposed Development Over-Commercializes Historic Los Rios 

The [River Street development project’s] site plan density, building mass and height, setbacks, parking density, and over-commercialization of the area are so outrageously inappropriate for the Los Rios area that I am having difficulty believing that the Council entertained the idea of an amendment to the zoning, let alone initiated an amendment on this property. 

I’d like to tell you about how the Los Rios Specific Plan came into being and why so many people in this City who have worked so many years to protect the history and character of the area are now concerned with the changes the Council is considering. 

In l972, when the City was adopting a new General Plan, the Los Rios area was specifically set aside to be studied as a special area of major historic value. Most citizens felt that the entire Los Rios area was too important to be included with the major planning changes being considered for the rest of the City. Significant planning and study were required to develop a plan that preserved the area and addressed all aspects of development for the future. 

After the General Plan was adopted, many Council members, Planning Commissioners, Los Rios Committee members, other committees, and hundreds of citizens held meetings and public hearings, and spent thousands of hours over several years just developing the Los Rios Specific Plan.  

The 1997 plan update furthered the preservation goals. Subsequent actions over the years by Council and Commission members have continued to maintain the integrity of Los Rios and the rural atmosphere that attracts so many visitors. 

Too many of San Juan’s residents, including me, have worked too many years on preserving this area to stand by and watch a high-intensity shopping center plopped in the center of Los Rios. There is only one area in San Juan that is zoned Low Density Commercial (LDC). It was created specifically for this section of Los Rios, [to] allow low intensity uses that are compatible with the rural character of Los Rios, and prevent the type of blatant over-development that is being proposed with the River Street project. 

Carolyn Nash
Former Mayor and Council Member
San Juan Capistrano

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