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Senior Living Project Approved, Not Everyone Happy

The Planning Commission approved a project headed by Flintridge Partners, developers of a 225-room residence to begin in early 2013. Some residents are not happy and fear noise, traffic.

Thirty-one year resident, Rosie Garcia, says she has spent most of her time raising a family, however, she did find a few moments to attend the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday to hear about a new senior living development.

Up for talks was the 225-unit retirement and assisted living community, Crestavilla, to be constructed at Niguel Road and Crown Valley Parkway, on the same property as the oldest church in Laguna Niguel, Shepherd of the Hills. 

The Commission unanimously approved the project to be developed by Flintridge Partners based in Irvine. The new building will have between two and four stories, and about 211,000 square feet. 

Located at 30111 Niguel Road, it will offer luxury amenities including restaurants, a spa and theaters, a spiritual resource center, allowing Shepherd of the Hills Church, also a partner in the project, to continue its ministry at the location. Of the 11.5 acre lot, 7.2 acres will remain hillside open space, aid he developer.

Partner Marlon Fenton of Flintridge, said the $61 million development is "much needed in Laguna Niguel."

"We decided on Laguna Niguel because it is an area that definitely needs this type of facility for seniors," Fenton said. "For the last two months, we have conducted community outreach in Laguna Niguel and have received tremendous support-- about 1,000 people are in support of the project. One of our partners has been a resident for 26 years and we want to make this project succesful for everyone."

Prior to the meeting, the developer held a dinner/event for about 150 supporters. They were dropped off at City Hall via chartered bus to attend the Planning Commission meeting, Fenton said.

"We did it mostly out of convenience for the people because we didn't want to fill up the parking lot at City Hall," he said. "Plus, 150 is a lot of people."

Garcia said she felt "the whole thing was staged."

She and other residents who reside near the project have said they are concerned about the potential noise and traffic.

Dan Fox, community development director said in response to residents' concerns about the geological impacts of excavating at the foot of the hill to build a two-story subterranean parking garage, the commission has required developers to monitor any potential land movement on a weekly basis. Fenton said construction would not put hillside homes at risk.

Fox said additionally, the Commission limited commercial deliveries to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. He also said to allow for safe left turns out of the development, a traffic signal will be installed at its entrance on Niguel Road, southeast of Crown Valley Parkway.

"I felt very embarrassed that our city was targeted by this big developer  by bringing a busload to take up almost all of the seats in the Council chambers," Garcia said.

She further said she was worried about potential traffic in the area.

"Even though there should not be heavy traffic in and out of this place, there still would be some elderly people turning in and out, causing traffic to back up onto Crown Valley Parkway, along with having a red light right there - that could really make traffic difficult," she said.

Garcia said she believes a smaller version might fit better in the city.

"The Planning Commission ultimately approved the project recognizing that this will be a quality development project that is probably one of the least traffic intensive developments that could be proposed for the site," Fox said. "The current commercial zoning could accommodate a wide variety of retail, restaurant, auto service and offices uses. The project does not propose to cut into the open space slope and construct large retaining walls as past approval have proposed, which was a previous concern from the surrounding residents."

Fenton said the project could be completed by 2014. 

Rosie Garcia December 01, 2012 at 06:06 PM
If asking questions and questioning the project is being a naysayer, then I wonder where our wonderful city will end up. No one has been NIMBY'ing either. It's the size of the project and the traffic signal that are in question. Also, what appears to be a lack of informing the residents nearby. I live nearby, probably drive up/down Niguel Road almost every day, read the newspapers, etc and did not hear about the project until a neighbor informed me the day of the Planning Commission hearing. I did go to the hearing and although I did not stay until the end I did not hear anything about "synchronized traffic signals" and that is one reason that I will be following up this week at City Hall. I am also curious to what benefits this project brings, other than the likely intensive use of city services (fire/paramedic, etc). It is not the kind of place my husband and I aspire to move to in a few years, but that isn't why I'm asking questions - I know some people at the Planning Commission meeting did say they would love to move into a place like this or put their parents there. Again, I am just asking questions that I did not have the opportunity to ask prior to approval of the project.
Jeanette A. Fratto December 01, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Has any project every been built anywhere where there was 100% approval? I'd much rather see a lovely senior facility than some more unsightly project that could have been suggested. I'm puzzled at Bill's comment that senior facilities "prey" on the elderly and their families. I've visited many in Orange County as a presenter regarding novels I've written, and far from preying on the elderly, they have created a nice home for the elderly, many of whom cannot take care of themselves. They're not cheap but I wouldn't call their fees outrageous for what they provide. You can always shop around and find the one that fits your pocketbook. I've been in Laguna Niguel 28 years and have seen much building. It's not the quiet place it once was, but that's progress, and it is still a beautiful city.
Leonard Kinkade December 02, 2012 at 08:31 PM
It my personal opinion that it’s a good idea, the property has laid dormant for many years and it would seem like a reasonable location. Like most vacant property in Laguna Niguel, eventually something is going to be built on it. The city already has several of these facilities off Golden Lantern at Marina Hills drive and I haven't seen a huge change in the traffic patterns at that location. Better, this type of facility than a drug rehab center or a low income housing project like those that pledge Mission Viejo at Crown Valley. It has been my understanding the traffic to these facilities, like the one at Marina Hills, normally takes place later in the morning and is normally completed before 4:00pm. Many of the residence don’t drive themselves they either take a facility provided bus or OCTA mini bus. So, I personally welcome this type of facility. Time will tell if it impacts the left turn traffic on to Niguel Rd. My guess is that it won’t and after the facility is built most people won’t realize that it is there, not unlike those at Marina Hills and Golden Lantern.
Leonard Kinkade December 02, 2012 at 08:38 PM
It would be nice though, if current residence of Laguna Niguel, who need these type of facilities, were given first priority so that they could remain in the city they chose to live in!
rob December 03, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I definitely agree w/you Leonard. As I get older chronologically (and hopefully the wiser), I can't help but notice that south orange county doesn't seem to provide much affordability to it's seniors, period! Ventura County and L.A. County surely have us beat. Greed and politics is a rampant virus that has been and will continue to exist. Perhaps with people like us, who are verbal, there will be change. I "never say never".

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