City Extends Development Moratorium by 10 1/2 Months

Council members this week extended a building moratorium on new large projects for 10 1/2 months, part of an effort to update the city’s aged general plan.

About 100 residents at the meeting cheered the 5-0 action Tuesday. They also applauded a decision to keep 110 acres of city-owned property for open space, instead of a golf course.

But builders are protesting the moratorium, enacted in June.

Attorney John P. Erskine, representing developer Dennis Gage, who is proposing 365 homes off San Juan Creek Road, called the moratorium “defective.”


The Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation, in a letter to the council, contended that the moratorium takes property without compensation.

The city attorney told council members the moratorium is legal.

“San Juan Capistrano is the jewel of Orange County,” Councilman David M. Swerdlin said. “We’re in the critical last 10% of our development, and then we will be in a maintenance mode.”

Tom Tomlinson, with the city planning department, said officials and community representatives will work together over the next six months to develop an updated general plan.


The blueprint for city growth hasn’t been updated since 1974.