The City of Dana Point is seeking input on a proposal to construct a 349-unit apartment complex at the site of the Capistrano Unified School District’s bus yard, as an environmental impact report (EIR) for the project was published on Jan. 20.
The publication of the EIR, which assesses the project’s impact on traffic, noise and air quality, among other things, commences the 45-day, public-comment period.
The EIR’s examination of environmental factors is broken down into 13 categories: land use and relevant planning; aesthetics, light and glare; tribal and cultural resources; geology and soils; hydrology and water quality; hazards and hazardous materials; transportation; air quality; greenhouse gas emissions; energy; noise; population and housing; and public services, recreation and utilities.
The apartment complex plans, presented during a public workshop on Nov. 23, propose 349 units—36 studios, 181 one-bedroom apartments, 115 two-bedroom units, and 17 three-bedroom spaces. Monthly rent is anticipated to start at $3,315 for studios and go up to $5,377 for three-bedroom apartments.
Of the 349 units, 15%, or 53 units, would be identified as affordable housing. Five percent of the total units would be set aside for very-low-income earners, 5% for low-income earners, and 5% for moderate-income earners.
The maximum height of the apartment complex would be five stories, with some portions of the building featuring three-, four- and five-story stacks.
The proposed architectural style is “coastal contemporary” with “clean lines, natural materials, contrasting accents and uncluttered massing,” according to the environmental impact report. The color palette would use natural colors that “complement the sea, sky and earth forms that are prevalent on the California Coast.”
The complex, the EIR states, would also use “natural materials such as wood, woven fiber and stone” to highlight key walkways and entrances.
The complex would have a maximum building height of 50 feet along Victoria Boulevard and 65 feet along Sepulveda Avenue, though rooftop projections can extend an additional 10 feet.
The EIR concluded that the proposed project posed less than significant impacts on aesthetics, light and glare, air and water quality and drainage pattern, pedestrian, bicycle and transit facilities, greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, noise, recreation and population and housing.
According to the EIR, the project poses no impact to historical resources, as the site is not eligible under the National Register of Historic Places or California Historical Landmarks List criteria.
From its development in 1929 to the mid-1960s, the project site, 26126 Victoria Boulevard, was the site of the Serra Elementary School. From the mid-1960s to 1971, CUSD administration used the land as its headquarters. By 1976, the Serra School playground was removed and paved, and the site was used as the school district’s bus yard.
Over the past few decades, the site was used for vehicle storage, refueling and maintenance. CUSD later identified the bus yard as a surplus site and requested proposals to initiate a ground lease.
By January 2019, CUSD and Toll Brothers entered an agreement, allowing the housing developer to begin an entitlements process for its proposed Victoria Boulevard Apartments.
The proceeds of the ground lease, roughly $40 million, would be earmarked for Dana Hills High School to fund needed facility upgrades.
Though the project site does not contain any known archaeological resources, construction would be required to stop until an archaeologist examines the site and recommends a course of action in the event that an archaeological resource is uncovered.
To mitigate potential impacts to archaeological resources, Toll Brothers would be required to retain an archaeologist to train workers ahead of the start of construction.
The EIR noted that while there is “low potential for unknown tribal cultural resources to be discovered on-site,” construction would be halted until an archaeologist examines the site and recommends a course of action.
The developers will also be required to prepare a “technical paleontological assessment to evaluate the sensitivity of the project site for buried paleontological resources.” Any “unanticipated” paleontological discoveries will be evaluated by a paleontologist.
To address potential hazards and hazardous materials, soil samples will be collected and evaluated, and structures will be evaluated for asbestos and lead-based paint.
The proposed project still has numerous hurdles to overcome and would still require the adoption of a site-specific plan, general plan amendment, zone change, construction management plan and development agreement with the City of Dana Point, as well as a local coastal plan amendment and coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission.
Additionally, Toll Brothers would need to receive CEQA compliance with certification of the EIR, a site development permit and a tentative parcel map.
If approved, construction on the project is anticipated to take two to three years. Construction would be limited to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and would be prohibited on Sundays and federal holidays, per the city’s municipal code.
Per the EIR, typical construction noise ranges from 71 to 82 decibels, but “these noise levels could intermittently occur for a few days”; the remainder of the time, “the construction noise levels would be much less because the equipment would be working further away from the existing sensitive uses.”
The 45-day public-review period began on Jan. 20 and will end on March. 6. Those interested in submitting comment letters should email Principal Planner Belinda Deines at email@example.com or via mail at City of Dana Point Planning Division, 33282 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA, 92629.
A representative of the Toll Brothers will also be the featured speaker at the next Dana Point Civic Association Coffee Chat on Feb. 10 at 8:30 a.m., where the representative will discuss the Victoria Apartments project.
The Planning Commission will host a Community Workshop on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Dana Point Community Center gym to discuss the proposed project.
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