SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Council OKs Business in Historic Homes

Despite intense opposition from some neighbors, the City Council has agreed to allow two houses in the 200-year-old Los Rios Historic District to be used exclusively for business.

The city’s zoning code allows “cottage” businesses to operate in the historic neighborhood but with a requirement that the house be occupied by a full-time resident.

Businesses such as a photography studio and mini-farm with pony rides have been open in the neighborhood for several years.

On Tuesday, the council waived the residency requirement for a gift shop to move into a house at 26711 Verdugo St. and for the administrative offices of the Decorative Arts Study Center to occupy a house at 31911 Los Rios St.


Los Rios resident John Taylor said that he might try to challenge the council’s decision on environmental grounds.

Others told the council their decision could irreversibly alter the neighborhood, which is one of the oldest in California and on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Los Rios Street is not a plaque,” one woman said.

“Please do not lose sight that once this historic town is gone, it will be gone forever.”


Councilman Gil Jones abstained from voting on the request because he has property in the district.

Councilwoman Carolyn Nash was the lone dissenter. Nash said the zoning code should protect residents.

“It is not compatible, and it isn’t appropriate,” Nash said.