Builder Seeks Better Reviews With Redesigned Theater Plan

Just call it, “Cinema Shuffle--The Sequel.”

For a second time, Mission Viejo Co. will come before the Planning Commission on Tuesday to seek approval for a 154,000-square-foot shopping center, including a multiscreen cinema complex.

Although the commission approved the Trabuco Hills Center in January, public outcry from neighbors concerning the proximity of the theaters to homes several hundred feet away led the City Council to send the project back to the Mission Viejo Co. to address those concerns.

The developer responded by moving the cinemas farther from the homes and cutting back the number of screens from six to five, with 1,450 seats.


The firm also proposed an alternative that would eliminate the theaters entirely. But, company spokeswoman Wendy Wetzel said, the developer does not favor that alternative “because there is a need for theaters in this part of Mission Viejo.”

At a January public hearing, citizens were split over the need for cinemas at the site, at Marguerite Parkway at Los Alisos Boulevard in northeast Mission Viejo.

Neighbors said three cinemas already located along a short stretch of El Toro Road, a few miles from the project, are enough.

They also complained about noise from people standing in line and the possibility that the rear of the theater would become a hangout for students from nearby Trabuco Hills High School.


But other residents said they do not like traveling down El Toro Road, one of South County’s most congested routes, and would like a movie complex in the area.

Wetzel said the company hopes that the current plan represents “a compromise that the neighborhood and the city can live with.”

Planned for the last vacant parcel in the area, the 20-acre project would also include a restaurant, shops, a gasoline station, an auto service center and 40,000 square feet of office space.