With less than a year left in their four-year terms, three San Juan Capistrano councilmembers are facing recall efforts.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, opponents of a proposed 5.6-acre commercial development project known as River Street filed notices of intent to recall City Councilmembers Kerry Ferguson and Derek Reeve. The notices of intent allow the opponents to begin collecting signatures from registered San Juan Capistrano voters in favor of the recall, required before any election.
The group trying to oust Ferguson and Reeve, both elected in 2014, has accuse them of betraying campaign promises and opening the door to development next to San Juan’s historic Los Rios District.
Another group filed recall papers on Monday, Nov. 27, targeting Councilwoman Pam Patterson.In the notice, Patterson’s opponents said she participated in “an illegal referendum” that led to legal settlements that stand to cost the city $1 million.
Both groups submitted a laundry list of other grievances in the notices. The three council members have since filed point-by-point responses, rejecting the complaints.
The River Street assertions stem from the City Council’s 4-1 vote to process a local developer’s application requesting a change to the Los Rios Specific Plan; the proposed amendment would allow a 61,000-square-foot, farmstead-themed commercial project. Opponents complained that the project far exceeds the Los Rios Specific Plan’s restrictions on development; the City Council, they said, should have instead said no and required compliance.
Council members who supported processing the application said a developer has a right to apply for an amendment, with no guarantee of approval. This winter, the city will conduct environmental studies – paid for by the developer – to evaluate the proposal’s impact on traffic, parking and several other quality-of-life issues. The City Council could vote on whether to approve River Street in 2018.
“You ignored the voices of residents, former council members and mayors to abandon consideration of this development,” the notices of intent to recall Ferguson and Reeve said.
“I ignore no residents,” Ferguson replied on Nov. 28. “Introducing applicants to stakeholders is part of my role as liaison to the Los Rios District.”
Reeve’s Nov. 28 reply: “I vote against certain development proposals, as I have done numerous times, but I will not block San Juan Capistrano residents from a fair process.”