Urban Activity Center Background
During the 2002 General Plan process, the City identified approximately 7,426 available average daily trips (ADTs) on the portion of Moulton Parkway between Laguna Woods Village Gate 3 and Santa Maria. The Golden Rain Foundation proposed a land use designation (Urban Activity Center) that would utilize all available trips. These trips were reduced by the rezone of Garden Center One as multifamily housing and will be reduced for future development (for example Clubhouse 7 and the Village Green) that impacts Moulton Parkway.
During the environmental review period for the 2002 General Plan, the City solicited comments from the County, neighboring cities and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) on the City's assumptions and their affect on countywide development plans and the adequacy of adjacent streets and highways. No negative or protest comments from these agencies were received. The 7,426 trips were reserved in the City's General Plan and have been included in the current Orange County Transportation Analysis Model (OCTAM).
Before any construction can occur in the UAC area, the City must approve a specific plan for the entire area. This plan will be subject to environmental review, as will specific development projects within the UAC. As development proposals move through the City planning process, there will be new opportunities for individuals and surrounding cities to comment on traffic associated with Moulton Parkway. If a significant time elapses between the creation of a specific plan area and its actual planning and development, trips included in the General Plan may no longer be available and traffic studies will be required to see whether development proposals increase traffic beyond the actual roadway capapcity. There are several circumstances that might affect ADTs available for development along Moulton Parkway.
- The OCTAM is updated on a regular basis. OCTA consultants conduct traffic studies and report current traffic patterns. The results of these studies are input into the model and may increase or decrease available ADTs on streets and highways. Cities can accept this data and modify their circulation elements or proceed with their existing General Plan assumptions. Individuals and neighboring communities may protest and/or sue if a city approves development that is out of sync with the updated County model.
- Regardless of approved general or specific plans, if streets actually become gridlocked, individuals and neighboring communities can protest and/or sue if a city approves additional development that will make the situation worse.
- The Master Plan of Arterial Highways contains - paper - roadways that may or may not ever be constructed. These roadways and their ability to carry traffic are included in the OCTAM, and development is allowed based on the assumption that roadways will be built when necessary. If a roadway is removed from the plan, the OCTAM is updated and available ADTs may be reduced as trip patterns are reallocated. There are several such roadways which may have an impact on available ADTs in Laguna Woods --- the completion of the Moulton smart street project from El Toro Road to Santa maria and removal of the extensions of Santa Maria Avenue and Ridge Route Drive.
To date, no application or project description for the UAC specific plan has been submitted to the city. The city does not know what type of development is being proposed,when or where it might occur.
The City of Laguna Woods does not own any land within the UAC; and it is not a partner in the potential development of this property. The city’s role is to review the project and assess its impact on the environment and on the quality of the lives of its residents and businesses.
If a development plan is submitted, the city is prepared to follow the process outlined in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its own General Plan and Zoning Code and to assure that the review process is legally adequate, equitable and transparent and that residents and other interested persons are informed and have the opportunity to comment.
Earlier this year, the Golden Rain Foundation asked the city to divide the UAC into two separate planning areas. This would allow them to plan and develop some properties without planning for the entire area. Because specific plan areas generally contain contiguous property, the initial staff and Land Use and Design Review Advisory Committee recommendation was to approve the division. The division required the city to divide average daily trips (capacity) available on Moulton Parkway. Since the city was considering the modification of a general plan that relied on an environmental impact report prepared in 2002, it was also required to consider changes in traffic capacity that might have occurred since the EIR was certified. This was accomplished by reducing capacity for new construction that has or is planned to occur along the constrained portion of Moulton – notably Village Clubhouse 7 and the Village Greens. The alternative was to conduct costly and time consuming traffic studies which was beyond the scope of the current project.
The Golden Rain Foundation objected to the reduction in available roadway capacity, arguing that the city should ignore subsequent construction and allow them to plan as if capacity remained at the 2002 level; city staff and the city attorney disagreed with this approach. The end result was the deletion of the division of the UAC from consideration in the comprehenisve generalplan/zonign code update. The UAC remainsin as approved in 2002 by the City Council.
Individuals who have questions about the UAC or the city's environmental review process on this or other development projects are encouraged to contact the city manager at (949) 639-0511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for a map of the proposed divsion of the Urban Activity Center properties.