SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Council Overturns RV Storage Lot OK


Overturning a recent Planning Commission decision, the City Council has rejected a proposal to locate a recreational vehicle storage lot near the intersection of Del Obispo Street and Camino del Avion.

The council vote was 4 to 0 Tuesday night with Councilwoman Carolyn Nash, whose home sits within 300 feet of the property, abstaining. The proposal would have turned an empty, 2.5-acre lot near the intersection into a 247-space storage facility.

John Forster, the property owner and a member of a historic San Juan Capistrano family, argued unsuccessfully that the site had been used for storage since the 1930s. He also agreed to plant a buffer of landscaping around the lot to hide it from the surrounding neighborhood.


“All in all, we think we have a good facility we want to run properly,” Forster said.

The council decision was considered a victory for Larry Culbertson, a 16-year resident of the adjacent Harbor Lane Homes tract and the former president of its homeowners association. Culbertson nearly single-handedly lobbied the council and city staff for months with his research on the adverse effects he believed the lot would cause in the neighborhood.

Culbertson maintained that the storage lot would be an eyesore, a magnet for crime and would present increased traffic problems at the site, which is near two schools. When the Planning Commission approved the project, Culbertson immediately appealed that decision to the council.

The storage lot “would degrade our area and would be a slap in the face of the citizens who have worked hard to make our neighborhood better,” Culbertson told the council Tuesday.

Ultimately, the council agreed.

“RV storage lots tend to deteriorate no matter what the intent of the owner,” said Mayor Gil Jones. “It’s inappropriate because it’s a commercial use. It should be in an industrial area.”