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2017 in review: A busy year for San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano was the scene for many happenings in 2017.
There were fun moments, like when dance students took to Verdugo Street for video shoot and when JSerra students cheered for a home game for the first time on campus.
There were also some important city decisions, including rules to curtail short-term rentals and a policy to oppose any 241 Toll Road route through San Juan Capistrano.
Lawsuits were file this year and decided. New projects were approved and started.
Here is a sampling of what happened in 2017:

JANUARY
The biggest storm to hit San Juan in seven years toppled trees and a trail crossing of San Juan Creek, also damaging some homes.
The City Council budgeted $265,000 to contest the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of a San Diego Gas & Electric substation expansion in a residential neighborhood. A judge denied the city’s lawsuit and the city is appealing.
The city introduced a law trying to reduce an influx of short-term rentals on residential streets.
In February, San Juan Capistrano opened its first traffic circle, a roundabout at the northbound I-5 San Juan Creek Road exit. (File photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)In April, dancers from Aliso Viejo’s Pave School of the Arts choreographed a promotional video along Verdugo Street, a district the city plans to enhance with decorative sidewalks and other amenities. (File photo by Jeff Antenore, contributing photographer)The Luong family, of Irvine, boards a free weekend summer trolley service that proved to be a big hit in San Juan Capistrano. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)Demolition of buildings behind Camino Capistrano in downtown San Juan Capistrano cleared the way for the 102-room Hotel Capistrano by Kimpton. on hold due to a lawsuit. Trial is set for Jan. 12. (File photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)San Juan Capistrano is challenging state approval of SDGE’s South Orange County Reliability Enhancement project, which includes substation expansion in a residential neighborhood. (File photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)Jim Curwood shared a touching moment with San Juan Capistrano Mayor Kerry Ferguson in June after his Buy my Bikes shop was named business of the year in San Juan. (Photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)A swallow peaks out of its mud nest at Mission San Juan Capistrano in May. They commute to and from Argentina each year. (File photo by Jeff Antenore, contributing photographer)An artist’s rendering depicts River Street, a 5.6-acre farmstead-themed development proposed beside San Juan Capistrano’s Los Rios Historic District. (Courtesy of Frontier Real Estate Investments)The site for Plaza Banderas, a 124-room hotel, is next to historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. (File photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)JSerra students celebrate a Lions touchdown during a home game, the second ever in the school’s history, against Bishop Amat on Sept. 8. (File photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)The city-owned site of Camino Real Playhouse and public parking is poised to become a performing arts center with shops, restaurants and underground parking under a proposal selected by the San Juan Capistrano City Council for negotiations. (File photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)Show Caption of Expand
FEBRUARY
San Juan’s first traffic circle opened at the San Juan Creek Road off-ramp of I-5.
The city repaid $705,000 to the Orange County Transportation Authority for the City Council’s 2016 decision to not proceed with a city/county project to widen Ortega Highway. The county later restarted the project. The City Council now concurs with it.
Demolition crews cleared the way to build the 102-room, four-star Hotel Capistrano by Kimpton, anticipating a possible summer opening. The site still sits idle, mired in a lawsuit challenging the city’s approval. Trial is set for Jan. 12.
MARCH
The Ecology Center spread its influence, merging with a San Diego nonprofit, the 1to1 Movement.
The community celebrated enshrinement of Judge Richard Egan’s 1883 home into the National Registry of Historic Places.
Designs for a $2 million skateboard park to be privately funded in a city park drew praise from the City Council but no city funding. Council members agreed to revisit it if the local group, Capistrano Grind, can raise $1 million.
APRIL
The council chose a proposal from Ganahl Lumber as the best use for 15 city-owned acres that needed to be sold as part of the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies. The proposal, near Stonehill Drive, calls for Ganahl’s business, a quick-serve restaurant, self-storage facility and car dealers’ storage.
The city announced it was becoming sister cities with Ensenada, Baja California. San Juan already had sister-city relations with Capestrano, Italy, and Goya, Argentina.
MAY
The city complained to the Federal Aviation Administration about airplane noise from changes in Southern California flight paths. The city cited impacts on residents and wildlife.
The council agreed to deal with Frontier Real Estate Investment to develop a performing arts center, shops, restaurants and underground parking on city land that now houses Camino Real Playhouse and a public parking lot. Sale of the land is linked to the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies.
JUNE
A group targeted Councilman Sergio Farias with recall, filing papers that City Hall rejected over procedural flaws. The group did not pursue it further.
Chick-fil-A withdrew an application for city permits to convert Del Obispo Street’s Taco Bell into a Chick-fil-A, after planning commissioners voiced repeated concerns about whether the drive-thru could keep cars from spilling onto Del Obispo.
The City Council declared strong opposition to any 241 Toll Road route through San Juan.
JULY
The city’s design review panel determined updated architecture for a restaurant and a retail/office building at Plaza Banderas, approved in 2011 as a 124-room, three-star hotel project, was consistent with the earlier approvals. Review of the hotel building and newer designs for the other two is set for Jan. 11.
Realtor.com reported the median price for housing in San Juan was $1.25 million.
Orange County Coastkeeper sued the city, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act by the city’s equestrian park along San Juan Creek.
The city’s summer trolley was a hit, offering locals free rides to the beach by connecting with Dana Point’s trolley and offering visitors a way to visit downtown San Juan without having to find parking.
AUGUST
The City Council committed to getting a 10-year-old Verdugo Street beautification back on track. The council could select a design in March.
We took readers on a pictorial excursion to Mexico to visit where Fray Junipero Serra prepared to embark on establishing a chain of California missions, one of which founded San Juan Capistrano.
The City Council approved legislation to preserve age restrictions at San Juan’s four senior mobile home parks.
SEPTEMBER
The City Council gave permission for JSerra Catholic High School to host Friday night football games on campus for the season, as Saddleback College’s stadium had become unavailable.
Students who walk to and from San Juan Hills High School along a utility service road off Camino Lacouague can continue doing so, the City Council decided after fielding grievances from neighbors over pickup and drop-off. Deputies said it seems to be working.
OCTOBER
The City Council initiated a permit process to consider allowing a drive-thru coffee house in the Vons shopping center.
John Rodrigues – high school dropout, chef, ice sculptor, author, speaker and “proud dyslexic” – told an audience at JSerra Catholic High School how he got into Harvard and how dyslexia is misunderstood.
NOVEMBER
The City Council approved a $2.3 million widening along Del Obispo Street. Work could start in March.
The council picked firms to conduct traffic and environmental studies for River Street, a proposed farmstead-themed commercial development next to the Los Rios Historic District. Studies, due back in several months, are at developer’s expense.
The council ordered a cleanup of the guidelines in its Historic Town Center Master Plan for development in the commercial core.
DECEMBER
Sergio Farias succeeded Kerry Ferguson as mayor. Groups initiated recall movements against Ferguson, Derek Reeve and Pam Patterson – three-fifths of the City Council.
After a student was seriously injured on Nov. 28 in a crosswalk outside San Juan Hills High, parents appealed to the city for a crossing guard. The City Council said its thoughts and prayers are with the family as it awaits results of a traffic investigation.
In a pictorial article, we took readers to Argentina to see where San Juan’s legendary swallows travel each November.
Source: Oc Register

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