Mixed-use building headed to City Council for decision
By Eric Heinz
The story of the story poles may be coming to an end. The final chapter will be for City Council to write.
During the Sept. 3 Planning Commission meeting, the mixed-use project at 1010 South El Camino Real was approved to be considered by City Council with some requirements.
The Planning Commission first took action to deny a resolution to change the zoning of the land but instead allow for a conditional use permit for 35 feet in height, which will have to be considered by the council. They will take action on the recommendations to approve the recommendations. Until then, the current General Plan is what applies to the building.
The commission voted 6-0-1 for the mixed use development to take place with certain guidelines. Chairman Don Brown recused himself from the discussion.
Commissioners have debated the height of the complex for weeks on end, as the building, originally 45 feet, was brought down to 35 feet in height, but it also still eclipses a portion of ocean views from Interstate 5.
The commission also approved the plan with the requirements that the developer revise parking lot strategy and the usable square footage within the building.
Commissioner Zhen Wu said he would not be in favor of the 35-foot height limit but he did vote in favor of the project.
Chair Pro-Tem Jim Ruehlin said the commission’s approval to have City Council discuss the zoning amendment with a conditional use permit said was the best compromise for the project.
Developer Nick Buchanan has been working with city staff and the Planning Commission for more than a year to get the project moving forward.
“Essentially, we’re saying we have some interest (in the project), but we’re saying it’s up to City Council to allow the final two feet,” Ruehlin said.
A part of the General Plan, which was passed in February, requires the planning commission to follow new zoning changes that were unforeseen by the developer.
Community members have been waiting to see what would happen to the land since the story poles went up last year. The lot is across the street from the neighborhood Ralphs.
The building is slated to allow for residential uses as well as commercial. About seven units are planned for the building, but that could change if the square usage aspects are changed. The building is expected to be 4,400 square feet.
During the July 22 San Clemente Planning Commission Meeting, developer Nick Buchanan, the president of Cape Point Development, sought a decision from commissioners to either approve or deny permitting for the project and a recommendation for a zoning amendment to be considered by City Council.
During last Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Wayne Eggleston said even though some of the specifications were not unanimously heralded by the commission, this would be the best option to get the new building started in SECR.
“We want to move this forward, and this is the best compromise we can come up with to move it forward,” Eggleston said. “We all believe the revitalization of South El Camino Real is important. There’s always a compromise along the way here, and this is the compromise we’re all trying to make in harmony.”