After Toll Brothers Apartment Living announced redesigned plans for its Victoria Boulevard Apartments in Doheny Village, the new plans and final Environmental Impact Report came before the Dana Point Planning Commission on Monday, Sept. 25, for discussion.
The meeting offered an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts on the new plan, which proposed a decrease of 43 units and a reduced building height along Victoria Boulevard.
Residents who spoke during public comments largely noted that the decreased density and height were steps in the right direction to address community concerns, but some felt the frontage along Sepulveda Boulevard should also be reduced.
Toll Brothers Regional Director Michael McCann spoke during public comments, noting that the development company has spent the past few months “exploring opportunities to bring forward a project that now has meaningful changes, meaningful modifications meant to address the feedback we’ve been hearing over the last four years through multiple collaboration efforts, multiple conversations.”
“We think we now have a project that effectively balances that feedback, much of it very positive, some of it not positive, with other needs for the city and for the community and for its residents, particularly the critical funding required for Dana Point schools,” McCann continued.
Residents who submitted written comments ahead of the meeting were largely in favor of the development, with many citing the roughly $40 million that area schools will receive through the ground lease payment if the project is approved.
In 2018, the Capistrano Unified School District identified its bus lot as a surplus property that it could lease to generate funds for facility improvements. Funds from the ground lease payment are earmarked for use at Dana Hills High School.
Commissioner Luke Boughen said that providing feedback in public forums like the hearing held Monday is important for the commissioners to consider. Boughen added that the commission will have to weigh the benefit of the funding that the school district will receive, noting that he’d like to see CUSD personnel speak further about what the funds will mean.
During public comments, Capistrano Beach resident Richard Law said that while he felt the redesign was the correct move, more issues raised by the community need to be addressed.
“Reducing the number of units to 306 is a move in the right direction,” Law said. “Reducing building heights along Victoria Boulevard to two- and three-stories definitely better fits into the streetscape of Doheny Village that is made up of one-, two- and occasional three-story buildings.”
“They say they have reduced the height of the buildings on Sepulveda Avenue,” Law continued. “The buildings fronted here will be highly visible from within the village. This building frontage should also be sensitive to the scale of the existing streetscapes of the village.”
Capistrano Beach resident Steven Carpenter noted that when he worked on the Doheny Village Plan, he was disappointed the Victoria Boulevard Apartments were carved out of the plan.
“When we were going through with the zoning, we tried to put, not limits, but reasonable expectations of what should be built,” Carpenter said. “This one section was left out. The rest of it that we came up with was (lots) over 10 acres would be allowable for 50 units per acre.”
The new plan proposes 306 units on the 5.5-acre site for a density of roughly 55.6 units per acre.
Several residents who spoke at the meeting noted that roughly an acre is carved out of the development for open space. They argued that the density for the project should be considered closer to 68 units per acre, as opposed to 55.6 units per acre, when removing the open space from the total acreage.
Carpenter added that “when you are looking at the overall density, it is just over-built,” commenting that he thought the Toll Brothers needed to go back to the drawing board again.
Addressing comments raised at the meeting, McCann noted that “some of the numbers that have been quoted are a little bit misleading. It’s not an 85-foot building, the park is not meant to be a fully recreational park, but just publicly active for the community.”
McCann added that he felt he’d be able to gain more support for the project over the coming months.
“I do think we’ll spend more time helping you understand that this project is a fit within Doheny Village, particularly within the standards that were set through the rezoning process,” McCann said.
The final Environmental Impact Report is available for review on the city’s website. City staff noted that the modifications to the plan resulted in “no new significant impacts,” “would not increase in severity any environmental impacts of the project,” and “would not require any new mitigation measures not previously analyzed in the Draft EIR.”
The proposed project still requires a General Plan Amendment, zone change, Victoria Boulevard Specific Plan, Local Coastal Plan Amendment, Development Agreement, Site Development Permit, Coastal Development Permit, Tentative Parcel Map, a certified Project-Level Environmental Impact Report and subsequent grading and building permits.
The project is tentatively expected to return to the Planning Commission and City Council in late 2023 and early 2024 for public hearings. The project is tentatively scheduled for California Coastal Commission review in early 2024.