A group that views San Clemente’s landmark Miramar Theater as a potential site for a homeless shelter is suing the city, trying to block the Planning Commission’s June 7 approval of permits to restore and revive the defunct 1938 cinema as an events center with a restaurant court.
The Emergency Shelter Coalition, in a complaint filed July 14, says that the cultural heritage permit, conditional use permit and site plan permit approved by the Planning Commission violate a Feb. 10 court order.
Judge Robert J. Moss issued the order barring the city from issuing any building permits, zoning changes or other entitlements in key commercial areas of town until it brings its housing policies governing homeless shelters into compliance with state law.
The judge’s modified injunction came in response to an earlier lawsuit by the Emergency Shelter Coalition asserting that the city has repeatedly failed to enact state-mandated zoning to make it easy for organizations to set up homeless shelters without having to apply for discretionary permits.
The judge agreed with the plaintiffs and issued a court order on the city.
City Attorney Scott Smith said via e-mail that he doesn’t believe the Planning Commission’s approvals fall within the scope of the judge’s order because they are neither building permits nor related to building permits.
The lawsuit asserts that the permits are the discretionary approvals necessary to allow the Miramar and an adjacent former bowling alley to be restored and repurposed. “Pulling building permits is merely the last step in a long series of steps that the Miramar permits have now set in motion,” attorney Brett Williamson declared in the lawsuit.
Smith has a different view.
“None of those approvals have any effect without the city’s approval of an historic preservation agreement with the owner,” Smith wrote. “Additionally, the Miramar Theater still needs Coastal Commission approval before the city can issue building permits.”
The City Council is scheduled on Tuesday, Aug. 15, to consider approving a historic preservation agreement with the Miramar property owner.
Shelter ordinance to go to Planning Commission
The lawsuit contends that the city has made no meaningful effort to address deficiencies in the zoning that the City Council established in 2014 for homeless shelters. The plaintiffs say the zoning limits sites to buildings in the Rancho San Clemente Business Park that are likely too expensive to be purchased…