Planning Commission Recommends New Gateway Plan

In hopes of encouraging new development, the Planning Commission approves recommendations for a new zoning plan at the Gateway area.

Wednesday night's Planning Commission meeting focused primarily on new zoning plans for the Gateway area—which is located between the I-5 freeway and 73 toll road—called the

Since 1999, the city has been trying to encourage revitalization and new development at the Gateway area by changing the zoning plan to allow more flexible development. But lack of developer interest has been throwing a wrench in those plans.

In response to the lack of interest, the city invited the Urban Land Institute to provide recommendations that might increase interest. The Land Institute recommended that the city should allow developers to build higher density of 40 to 100 units per acre, to take advantage of the Metrolink station—which opened in 2002. Hopes are that this change in zoning will create a more urban feel to the area.

In order to put these plans in place, the city has to change the ratio of land that can be utilized for commercial use. According to City Manager Tim Casey, the new zoning plan will reduce the commercial use area of the Gateway from 3.8 million square feet to 2.4 million square feet. This change will allow up to 3,000 residential units to be added to the area.

The new plan may also allow the addition of up to 350 hotel rooms.

So when will developers be allowed to bite on this new zoning plan?

“The goal is to have final approval for this plan by the end of the year. But this is not raw land. We can put the plans in place, but ultimately it's up to the existing private land owners and developers whether they will move forward,” says Casey.

Casey is also not overly concerned about the impact that creating a more urban feel to this area may have on the rest of our “bedroom community.”

“That area is pretty much separated from the rest of Laguna Niguel. A lot of people don't realize that they are in Laguna Niguel when they hit the Gateway. It's also down in a hole, in a much lower elevation spot, so it won't even affect the view. ”

Casey said that the city was more worried about what would happen if it didn't move forward with plans to revitalize the area, explaining that the need for improvement far outweighed the costs that the city would eventually have to put forward to meet developers' needs.

The City Council is holding a public hearing on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m at City Hall at 30111 Crown Valley Pkwy., and will consider the plan at that time.

Barton Mac Leod October 27, 2011 at 02:19 PM
In fact, it's understandable that a Developer ($$$$$) would want to build units on condemned property (cracked foundations) and were Costco just completed spending millions installing pillions to support the 73 Frwy to save their building and if you drive on the 73 Frwy in the same region, The glass building on Cabot has structural cracks in the parking structure....Cal trans has placed tarps in the middle of the frwy to divert rain to combat the "Under Ground" shifting soil... Nothing mention about the "Shifting Soil" in the meetings ....
d October 27, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Why would the city want high density residential units in an area already VERY CONGESTED (at Avery and Camino Capistrano)? The city should get the traffic flowing and make Metrolink easily accessible at this gateway instead of adding more congestion to the problem.
Barton Mac Leod October 27, 2011 at 03:15 PM
To: d As of this writing contractors are spending millions by beefing up the 73 Frwy in the area to save the Costco building. Caltrans on the 73 Frwy has tarps in the same area .... and they want to build on shifting gound. It's all about $$$$$
PC October 27, 2011 at 04:53 PM
d, I agree, the area is congested and it is hard for a large truck to even get on or of the freeway. Fix the freeway ramp before you start your building.... BTW, we just improved the area but not enough... LOL
Debbie Tharp October 28, 2011 at 05:41 AM
I'm not sure, but from my understanding, developers aren't talking about doing these things until the improvements have been made. I'll look into it and find out a bit more. You all bring up very interesting points that should be looked into. Thanks for the interesting comments! please keep em coming
Barton Mac Leod October 29, 2011 at 05:29 AM
The "Underground" shifting soil at the 73frwy could annex Laguna Niguel with Santa Ana


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