Referendum on the Distrito Development in San Juan Capistrano, Measure B (June 2011)
The proposed Distrito development was approved by San Juan Capistrano's City Council in November 2010. It is a mixed-used project located off Valle Road. The project will include residential housing (94 single-family homes, 90 condominiums and 40 apartments), shopping/retail (82,000 square feet of shops and restaurants) and a 500-horse stable on the south side of La Novia.
After the city council voted to approve the Distrito project, a group of residents who oppose the project collected signatures on a veto referendum measure in order to require a vote of the city's electorate; the city's voters can either agree with the city council that the Distrito project should go ahead, and they can reject the city council's approval of the project.
The city had previously approved a development plan at Distrito of 440 houses and a hotel. That approval will still stand, regardless of what happens with Measure B.
It is estimated by the city's traffic department that the proposed development would generate 2,043 daily vehicle trips over-and-above what the "440 houses and a hotel" plan would have generated, including 200 more vehicle trips in the peak afternoon hour.
- Election results from the Orange County elections office as of 5:00 a.m. on June 8, 2011.
Meaning of vote
- Those who voted "yes" on Measure B were voting to allow the proposed Distrito development to move ahead as approved by San Juan Capistrano's city council.
- Those who voted "no" on Measure B were voting to prohibit the proposed Distrito development.
Mistake in voter pamphlet
The official voter guide/sample ballot prepared by the city to explain Measure B erroneously said that the Distrito La Novia-San Juan Meadows project would be built west of Valle Road. In reality, the project would be built east of Valle Road.
On May 17, the city council voted to send letters to residents notifying them of the problem. The mailing to correct the error was expected to cost approximately $6,600.
The correct language is on the official ballot.
Supporters of Distrito
- Advanced Real Estate Services is the real estate company that wants to develop Distrito. Robb Cerruti is the real estate company's vice-president. He said, "We want this new project because it is better with the community...We have a lot of supporters."
- Mayor Sam Allevato and Councilwoman Laura Freese were in favor of a "yes" vote on the Distrito project.
- Resident Debi Kellerman supported the Distrito plans, and said, "A lot of people I talked to who signed petition didn’t really understand it. They thought signing it for development or non development. That is not really the case."
- Resident Richard Hill Adams spoke at a city council meeting in favor of Measure B. Noting that his home in the city is the home that is closest to the proposed development, Adams said that the new plan is much better than the plan to put 440 houses and a hotel on the lot: "That was approved in the 1980s. This is the 21st Century; we need a plan for the 21st Century."
- Sam Allevato and Larry Kramer, members of the San Juan Capistrano City Council, supported Measure B. They wrote, "The new owner purchased the property with the 1998 approval in place and spent 3 1/2 years and more than 30 public hearings working with community groups and the City Council to create a project that is commercially viable and community friendly...62 percent of the project remains open space, including an equestrian center. It expands our trail network and provides trail head parking to make our open space more accessible—at no cost to the city."
Opponents of Distrito
John Perry and Trevor Dale led the effort to collect signatures to force a vote on the Distrito project. They encouraged residents to vote "no" on Measure B.
Opponents of the Distrito project said:
- It will impose an unacceptable traffic burden.
- The project is too big.
- The horse stable is inappropriate in a residential area.
Derek Reeve, a member of the San Juan Capistrano City Council, opposed Measure B. He wrote, "The City Council erroneously believes this project will further downtown redevelopment, but this project will in fact increase city debt. This development will compete with downtown merchants for business, causing more vacant buildings and failed businesses."
Path to the ballot
Opponents of Distrito had to collect a minimum of 1,973 signatures within 30 days of the city council's approval of the Distrito project in November 2010 in order to qualify Measure B for the ballot.
Cost of election
- See also: Costs of administering local elections
- The cost of administering the vote on Measure B is estimated to be between $76,500-$85,500.
- The expense incurred by the Registrar of Voters to check the submitted signatures to see if they were valid was $7,503.80.
- The city has also agreed to pay $12,129 to the Orange County Registrar of Voters to have an impartial analysis of Measure B included in materials available to voters.
- Full text of Measure B
- Argument in favor of Measure B
- Argument against Measure B
- Impartial analysis of Measure B
- No on Measure B website
- The Capistrano Dispatch, "Fate of Distrito will be in Voters’ Hands," February 25, 2011
- San Juan Capistrano Patch, "City Alerts Residents of Minor Error in Ballot Measure," May 20, 2011
- San Juan Capistrano Patch, "Yes on Measure B for Jobs, Road Improvements," March 20, 2011
- The Capistrano Dispatch, "'Distrito La Novia' Qualifies as Ballot Measure"
- San Juan Capistrano Patch, "Measure B: A Violation of Property Owners' Rights," March 19, 2011
- The Capistrano Dispatch, "Capistrano will Pay for Ballot Analysis on Development Referendum," March 2, 2011