How does more development on the site, especially more residential development, impact community infrastructure such as police services, fire and paramedic services, traffic, water, schools, etc.?

Any impacts on city services, infrastructure, and the environment from the redevelopment of the property are required to be analyzed under the State environmental law known as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  State law specifically requires an analysis of project water supply availability, which will be served by the El Toro Water District.  Each public agency that provides service to the project will be asked to comment on potential impacts the project would have on the services it provides.  If project impacts are determined to be “significant,” it is possible for the project to be modified, or for “mitigation measures” to be applied in order to reduce one or more significant impacts.  For example, a problem of localized flooding could be solved through the construction of more storm drain systems.  The cost of infrastructure needed to serve the project will be the responsibility of MGP. 

Since none of the special studies needed to determine if the proposed project will have any significant impacts on city infrastructure or on the environment have been provided to the City, questions about impacts cannot be answered at this time but will be made available for public review and comment once completed.  The City anticipates that these studies will be available in the second quarter of 2020.  The studies will be reviewed by City staff and special consultants the City retains to provide technical expertise on specific environmental subject matters such as traffic.  It should be noted that the City must also notify the Saddleback Valley Unified School District of the new project. 

Additional information regarding CEQA is available from the State at: http://resources.ca.gov/ceqa/more/faq.html.

March 2021 Update: The project’s environmental analysis has been completed. The analysis and studies prepared for the project concludes that there are no new or greater impacts than those analyzed for the Five Lagunas project or the original General Plan Program EIR. Generally, CEQA provides that an update (formally known as an “Addendum”) to a previously approved Environmental Impact Report (EIR) can be used to analyze a project provided that there are no new significant effects that were not examined in a prior “Program” EIR (or PEIR), there is no substantial increase in the severity of significant effects examined in the prior PEIR, and that there are no new mitigation measures. The project addendum contains over 8,000 pages of analysis, including all technical studies to evaluate the impacts from the project compared to the Addendum EIR for Five Lagunas, and the original General Plan PEIR. The City anticipates increasing police services with the increased activity the project will bring. Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) has also indicated that it will be impacted by the project. However, state law provides that the payment of school fees to a school district satisfies any impacts a project may have on a school district. SVUSD is expected to receive at least $8 million in one-time school fees from the project, in addition to on-going revenues to the district from increased student population.

The project CEQA analysis and studies are available for review on the City’s website at:  https://www.lagunahillsca.gov/176/Planning-Projects-New-Developments under “Village at Laguna Hills”.

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1. Explain the current zoning, conditional use permits, and land use for the 68-acre property [the former Laguna Hills Mall] and adjacent developments. What can/can’t the City Council control?
2. What is the status of the plan MGP showed the community at their April 2019 Community Forum? How does it compare to the approved 2016 plan?
3. How much housing does the City’s Zoning Code allow on the property?
4. Does the City consider traffic in evaluating development proposals in the UVSP?
5. In 2016, the City approved over 926,000 sq. feet of retail and office building area and 988 dwelling units. If MGP is an established developer, why has Five Lagunas taken so long to get started?
6. What does the City Council see as a viable solution for the development of the site? When considering a new development, does and can the City Council factor in the greater good of the community?
7. How do the new and future proposed/approved Oakbrook apartments factor into any decision making?
8. What are current vacancy rates for existing apartment complexes?
9. Why doesn’t the City insist MGP provide more retail space and less office and housing space?
10. What creates the most value for the city and community: High-density multifamily housing, retail, or commercial office?
11. What kind of retail space can residents expect to see since the outlook for traditional storefronts is so negative?
12. How much revenue has the City lost from the mall closing?
13. How has the City responded to this loss of revenue?
14. How will property taxes benefit the city and how much will the city actually receive?
15. How does more development on the site, especially more residential development, impact community infrastructure such as police services, fire and paramedic services, traffic, water, schools, etc.?
16. What were the projected traffic levels for the originally approved Five Lagunas Project? What is the difference between retail development and apartment development with respect to traffic?
17. How will high-density apartments/multifamily housing benefit residents? Did the 09 General Plan call for 300 apartments w/ options to add more in future phases? Are the approved 988 units mandated
18. What if residents do not want to see more housing developed beyond the 988 units approved in 2016 in a future project?
19. Why doesn’t the City simply ignore State housing element law?
20. What is the City’s obligation to help address the Statewide/federal affordable housing shortage, including low-income and homeless shelters?
21. What exactly is the Housing Crisis Act (SB 330) and how does it impact the new project submitted by MGP?
22. What are the key steps involved in the entitlement process?
23. How long will it take for the project to reach the public hearing?