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Council moves up public hearing process seeking resident input on zoning change for proposed ‘Gardens’ project

garden plaza

Private property owner ValueRock Realty is applying to the City to establish a new mixed-use land use designation and zoning district for its proposed “The Gardens” on the northwest side of Marguerite Parkway and La Paz. While ValueRock’s development application is still incomplete, the City Council on March 22 voted to move the zoning aspect through the public hearing process immediately. Therefore, the Planning and Transportation Commission will consider the zoning request on April 11, with the Council following suit in May. 

“I would like to propose today that we as a City stop waiting on the developer to make up their minds and instead use our legislative powers to define the types of uses we believe would be in the best interest of Mission Viejo and its residents,” said Mayor Wendy Bucknum.  

With an incomplete development application as an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and other documents are prepared, the first public hearing on the proposed project would have been several months away. Instead, Council Members unanimously approved City staff’s Recommended Action to complete the public hearing process for the zoning consideration in advance. The property is currently zoned as Office Professional, and resident input is sought to help chart the path of that designation and scope of the property zoning for the future. 

“It’s important to us as a City Council that we need to do these things fairly and judiciously and evaluate them... and really ensure our residents have a front row and center seat at the table in doing so,” Mayor Bucknum said. 

The Council Members agreed.  

“I want to see this expedited,” Council Member Kelley said. “It has dragged on way too long.” 

The Planning and Transportation Commission meets at 6:30 pm on April 11 in City Hall’s Council Chamber at 200 Civic Center. To receive updates about this project, sign up for the City’s eNewsletter and select The Gardens Mixed-use Project Application Newsletter.


Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 11:09 am


It appeared to me that the Council at that March 22 meeting expertly manipulated many in the audience into believing that the MONSTER apartments are DOA. Not true. The Council needed to stand behind the residents and say NO ZONE CHANGE. Instead, did they help the developer with a bait and switch scheme?

The Council in their discussion are open to adding MIXED USE zoning to the City's General Plan. Adding mixed use zoning puts ALL our neighborhood commercial centers open to mixed use development.

So, if the public does not remain engaged and hold the Council's feet to the fire, instead of a BIG MONSTER apartment complex on the corner of La Paz and Marguerite, there will be a LITTLE MONSTER apartment complex, but a MONSTER all the same.

I believe Greg Raths was the ONLY council member who wanted the zoning to remain the same: Office Professional.

Are the ValueRock developers using the "possible" Whole Foods store as an enticement to win public approval?

Submitted by Mary Morris on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:12 pm


Thank you City Council for putting this question to bed by voting no on the zone change. As a resident behind the proposed high rise, it will be nice to know my quality of life won't change.

Submitted by Doug and Karen… on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:27 pm


This is the first information we have read on this proposed zone change.
We URGE the Mayor and Council Members to retain the business zone. We DO NOT want mixed use or any zoning that would add apartments, condos, or other housing units of any kind.
Thank you,
Doug and Karen Owings

Submitted by Sean Gawne on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:27 pm


The people of the city are already speaking very loudly, and by a large margin the residents are opposed to this monstrosity. Kudos to the council for letting the people who elect them have a voice in this process.

Submitted by Matt on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:29 pm


How do we and the city stand to gain in making changes ourselves? The only reason re-zoning is being considered is because ValueRock wants to redevelop the site. The current zoning has been sufficient for the current property. Why not just expire the process for delays and require ValueRock to restart the process when they are ready?

Submitted by John Carson on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:30 pm


A huge housing/retail complex at a busy intersection, and blocking homeowners' view of the mountains, sunrise, and moonrise is unnecessary. High decency housing leads to crime, congested parking, traffic issues, and other problems the city of Mission Viejo doesn't need. I was at Avery and Margarite this week and noticed a huge apartment complex in the works. If the city is trying to appease the state in offering low-cost housing in a city with the majority of homes now over one million dollars, there are other open areas low-cost high-density housing can be built. Across the street where Michaels was, that can be developed like other cities with shops, stores, and restaurants on the ground level and housing above. Make it look like an old midwest town, with walking areas, closed streets, parking lots. Rancho Cucamonga, Victoria Gardens, has a huge shopping center like that that is pleasant to look at, shop in, and has a family invite atmosphere. That can be done to promote interest in shopping in M.V., put low-cost housing in the upper areas, and the first pick for housing goes to workers at the mall.

Submitted by Brenda Barbee on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:32 pm


This is NOT good for that space. Traffic will increase, adjacent neighborhoods would be impacted severely. La Paz can’t be widened. Not to mention a 5-6 story building there would be an eyesore.

Submitted by Karen Hamstrom on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 6:38 pm


At the busiest intersection in MV we don’t need more traffic. Amazon has already created a huge burden on our streets. The destruction of the median on La Paz goes against the vision of the future of MV.

Submitted by Bob C on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 7:04 pm


The project does not make sense at this location. It is not fair to the residents that will have apartment units looking down on them in their back yard. The traffic is already bad in that area and will only get worse. Please do not rezone and allow this project to move forward.

Submitted by Barbara Hosmer on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 7:24 pm


i'm confused. is the debate on mixed use pertinent to this property only? or in general?
who do we write to about this? in case we can't make the meeting...

Submitted by Russell Winninghoff on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 7:28 pm


I really can’t see why the City of MV is even considering this project at one of the busiest intersections. The increase in traffic alone with the proposed number of units should rule out the project alone. You really can’t widen Marguerite Pkwy. and LaPaz Rd.

Submitted by Jim Grissom on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 7:44 pm


The Garden Project is going the create the largest traffic jams in the whole of Mission Viejo and the surrounding cities. Along with the creek project where there is no actual creek Mission Viejo will be nothing like the community it has been since it's inception in the 1960s.

Submitted by Teresa M Bold on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 8:08 pm


Thank you! I have been on a few Zoom calls about this project and asked "Who has the final say?" The developer equivocated every time.

Thank you City of MV elected officials for taking notice and stepping up to protect MV.

Submitted by Raymond Kiang on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 8:11 pm


Not sure if any council member tried to use La Paz to reach 5 freeway during morning rush hours; it usually takes up to 15 minutes for the 2 mile drive and if this property turns into apartments, then we are looking at 20 minutes or more for the 2 mile drive. Crazy idea!

Submitted by Robert L Knoke on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 9:22 pm


I have three issues regarding the Value Rock Plans:
1) Mixed zoning is Bad land use in that it creates a lower-class neighborhood. Our community was founded as a single-family development in one area and apartments in another and Business zoning in another area.
2) Traffic along La Paz Road towards I 5 will be a nightmare in the AM and PM Rush Hours each day. Combined with the High School, Middle School and Elementary Schools in the area we will end up with grid lock
3) Traffic between Muirlands Blvd and Marguerite Parkway will become impossible for much of the day which will hurt businesses in both parts of our city

Submitted by Donna Sawyer on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 9:22 pm


Allowing a zoning change to accommodate multi-unit residential above businesses would impact the area very adversely in terms of traffic. A serious consideration also should be the several schools within a very short distance of this area. The number of school age children/adolescents should be seriously considered, as well the school -related traffic which would likely be greatly impacted . Overall, the proposed development of this property would not be a positive addition to our community.

Donna Sawyer

Submitted by Anna on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 12:25 am


Will there be an online Zoom-type option for people who cannot be there in-person but want to make a public comment on the matter?

Submitted by Linda Webber on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 7:38 am


Thank you for recognizing that this is another step forward in providing more housing in Mission Viejo, while also beautifying the core of our City.
Cheers to our leaders!

Submitted by JOHN KEATOR on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 8:39 am



Submitted by Valerie Quintard on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 8:56 am


I love Mission Viejo as do most residents who live here.
This project is awful and will cause horrible traffic, noice,
And a terrible look to our beautiful Community.
ValueRock does not live in our beautiful City and they dont care or understand that it does not FIT in our City.. it is ALL ABOUT MONEY.
Please dont ruin our quaint peaceful Most loved Beautiful City .
ValueRock can take their MONSTER TO THE LA AREA OR IRVINE .
Thank You

Submitted by Amy Dalphy on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 9:52 am


Mission Viejo needs more affordable housing and we need to reverse the trend of the death of retail in our city. As a 25-year resident who passes through the Marguerite/La Paz intersection at least five days per week, the reports of 'worst traffic' in MV are untrue. Calling housing a 'monster' is a slogan, nothing more. The community needs to be accessible to new buyers and renters to continue to grow and thrive. We are already falling behind in tax revenues with so much unrented, unoccupied retail space. There's not much traffic because there is not much business. That means not so much money for the city revenues. That spells the end of our beautiful city folks. Let's not heed fear-mongering from people who resist any kind of change send us down a path of decline. Vote for, and support what will help keep our city alive and flourishing with tax revenues and new shoppers who will also be our new neighbors!

Submitted by Debby on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 10:16 am


While I’m encouraged that at least Greg Raths stated his opinion, high density housing, via zone changes, are in the works for this immediate area. The center at LaPaz that houses Bravo has allegedly already been changed to mixed use and it’s well known that the owner wants high density housing there. How do the residents of Pacific Hills feel about an apartment top view? Be careful that one project isn’t keeping your eyes from another. There are places in Mission Viejo that are already built for more traffic. LaPaz and Marguerite is not one of them.

Submitted by Lisa Foto on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 11:43 am


I vote no zoning changes period in the Miner's Village Shopping Center.
A nice remodel (and keep it Office/Professional as zoned) is needed, supported too.
Our community is a planned community.
Residential in zoned residential area.
Business needs to happen in a zoned business area.
Higher density housing needs to be in the areas that can accommodate higher density.
Mixed use is the beginning of the end to our wonderful city. It opens the door to something not wanted here.
Anything the council can do to keep the state from stepping in and subverting code enforcement, zoning changes, etc. needs to happen.
Over development on any piece of property in our city is not a good thing for those that live here.

Submitted by Renee French on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 12:23 pm


I suggest that the city council members and residents take a long, hard look at the monstrosities that were built at the corner of Cabot and Crown Valley, across from Costco, in Laguna Niguel. They are the ugliest, most stark examples of housing architecture I have seen in South OC. Not to mention the density and impact on traffic. Let's not let that happen in Mission Viejo. In the nearly 30 years that I have lived here, our city government has done so much to beautify our city with gorgeous landscaping along major thoroughfares, streetscapes, Community Center, City Hall, etc., that we can't let this happen. One of the biggest reasons why I love living here. People who visit always rave about how beautiful it is. The developer doesn't care about our residents' quality of life. If we want to bring commerce back to our city, remodeling always stimulates business. The office buildings that already exist on that site could really benefit from a remodel, as well as the surrounding shopping centers. We don't need a high-rise, high-density, mixed use complex there. It would destroy the original aesthetic and vision that has made Mission Viejo such a desirable place to live. Not to mention the negative affect on property values where existing homes are directly impacted. The surrounding homes have been there for a very, very long time, and this would be unfair to those long-time residents. One of my biggest concerns is that we as residents need to speak up and protest, or else this proposal will slide through and everyone will be wondering how that happened. If we aren't diligent about protecting our beautiful city, that's where we'll end up. Another big concern is that the developer has gotten Whole Foods on board. That gives them great influence and probably deep pockets. As we all know, money talks, so it is disconcerting to see that they have that kind of backing. Even more reason for us to be diligent!

Submitted by peggy A robinson on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 1:14 pm


How can the council even consider adding any units in mv when we are in a drought. How will we ever save water when new units are added to the city.
Please dont add units just because the city will get more tax money,consider the long term effects of traffic which none of us need, way too much water needed to service the units,

Submitted by Noreen Cichocki on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 6:09 pm


After review of the comments from the citizens of Mission Viejo, I appreciate Greg Raths and some of the members of the city council for standing up to the developers regarding this development proposed
on that corner. Mission Viejo remains a desirable place for families simply because of the zoning that was carefully outlined from the start of this great city. There are other valid reasons: traffic congestions, school crowding, not to mention there is no need for another Whole Foods with another within a few miles.

Submitted by LUCILLE NAVES on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 8:20 pm


Why would we allow a large apt. complex at the center of Mission Viejo. It would ruin the feel of a city center. Others have already stated the obvious that La Paz already has too much traffic and a monster complex would overwhelm that area. Why would we want the entrance to Mission Viejo with the beautiful median to be changed. Do we really want a congested city center? How is this zoning change benefiting the California. Dream that is Mission Viejo

Submitted by Barbara Hosmer on Fri, 03/25/2022 - 10:57 pm


Mary Morris…NO the city council did NOT shut down the mixed use option. They’ve shuttled it to th planning and transportation committee to take up on apr 11. So STAY TUNED!

Submitted by Lisa Waldvogel on Sat, 03/26/2022 - 8:39 am


Please don’t rezone! I’m all for progress and bringing upgrades, etc to our city but the traffic on La Paz is already so bad in the mornings and evenings. Adding such a large complex to that area will only make the traffic significantly worse and removing the trees on La Paz cannot be an option. It will enrage residents. Please don’t rezone.

Submitted by Eric on Sat, 03/26/2022 - 2:46 pm


Listen to 5000+ unified residents!

1. DO NOT rezone MV (do not add to or modify current zoning). Maintain current zoning as Office Professional for all four corners of La Paz / Marguerite
2. NO to overpriced and small business-killing Whole Foods / Amazon Fresh.
3. NO to large multi unit developments (apartments / condos / townhomes)

Keep our trees. Incentivize Office Professional owners to invest in updates and maintenance.

Submitted by Dona and John … on Sat, 03/26/2022 - 3:22 pm


We have already weighed in on this subject, but apparently we need to reiterate.
#1 No additional zoning.
#2 Keep current zoning, i.e. office professional ONLY.
#3 Absolutely NOT to Whole Foods!
#4 No apartments.

Please respect the surrounding homes, neighborhoods, local businesses and streets, which were never designed to accommodate a project of this magnitude at what is already a very busy intersection. The whole idea of this development is insane. The scale of the proposed monstrosity will ruin our quality of life. Mission Viejo was designed as a planned community. Please keep what's left of the Mission Viejo promise.

Submitted by paul lechevalier on Sun, 03/27/2022 - 4:13 pm


If our city government truly represents the people of Mission Viejo, they will not let the development proposed for the corner of La Paz and Marguerite proceed. The negative impact on the day to day quality of life of our city far outweighs any upside the development could possibly provide. Most would agree that something need to be done at that location but the proposed development is not it. Whatever is done needs to be in keeping with the current zoning as well as with the tradition and character of our city.

Submitted by Linda Nordrum on Mon, 03/28/2022 - 12:13 pm


I agree with the above statements not to rezone this corner for all the reasons mentioned above.
There are so many schools in the area that I am concerned about the safety of the children with so many other cars that would be in the area. I was told that the apartment dwellers would have 1 1/4 parking spaces per apt. How many house holds have 1 & l/4 cars?
Who needs another market? How and when would deliveries be delivered. These questions and others were not completely addressed in the builder's zoom meetings.

Submitted by Helen Mills on Mon, 03/28/2022 - 1:26 pm


I have lived in Mission Viejo 50 years. We have seen lots of growth and many changes but this one is definitely not an appropriate use of the land at this intersection. We already have enough traffic on Marguerite Parkway, especially near La Paz Road. This proposed apartment building alone would add an enormous of traffic, as would adding another commercial property with Whole Foods. This zoning change is not acceptable.

Submitted by Diana Burns on Mon, 03/28/2022 - 2:08 pm


after 52 yrs as a resident, this is the worst ZONE fiasco I have ever seen proposed. Have you all gone crazy? Lost views, tons of traffic pollution at our worst intersection ever, noise pollution, to name a few horrid outcomes if this is put into action. NO high rise is warranted.
where is our town center??

Submitted by Wayne on Tue, 03/29/2022 - 9:34 am


In CA, we have shutdown the nuclear power plant which was capable of generating far more power than any fossil-fuel, solar, wind, or even hydro-electric source. Though I heard in the early 90’s that CA was going to implement a course of action such that every new home would be built with solar power by the end of the 90’s, those dates went by with nothing like that in place.

Since then, we’ve imported hundreds of thousands of people including immigrants and illegals who rarely fund our infrastructure. Land and housing developers are overjoyed as they get to build, build, build, all the while the state and municipal utilities continually warn us about natural resources dwindling and raise the prices of water, natural gas, and electricity.

Again, I’m trying to make sense out of HOW it could possibly make sense to build a monstrous high density housing project in Mission Viejo, when according to all of the information I’ve been getting that we don’t have the water, power, and/or natural gas to support the current population.

Furthermore, this high density population area built now proves that the whole "clean energy" pitch is nothing but a farce. How do you propose to handle all the additional traffic? A long line of vehicles waiting several turns to get through an already crowded intersection doesn't seem like a huge concern from the environment... and no, electric cars aren't the answer... where do you think the electricity for those comes from?

Maybe it is time to ignore the oblivious leadership in Sacramento. How is it they get to control how many houses are built in MV anyway?

Submitted by Lisandro Olmedo on Tue, 03/29/2022 - 7:19 pm


- NO additional zoning added
- Keep the current zoning as Office Professional (which means only small businesses)
- NO to Whole Foods
- NO apartments

Submitted by Enrique Itribarne on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 7:33 am


Please City council members:

Listen to your residents. Read these emails. All athe issues raised make sense and are real. Traffic- Ciongestion-Pollution-Aesthetics- drastic change in quality of life-noise- air quality- parking nightmare- increase in cost of living -high rise in a residential area- oprning the door to more and more projects of this nature in other areas of Mission Viejo-. Please say NO to changing the zoning and NO to these kind of megaprojects. You live here too!!

Submitted by Charles and Sa… on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 3:54 pm


We have lived here for 44 years. We have enjoyed every year spent here. This has always been a peaceful residential community. And that is what we were told it would stay as. We both say NO to Rezoning!!!!

Please hear our voices!!!

Submitted by Karen Zanki on Sat, 04/02/2022 - 12:54 pm


As a citizen of Mission Viejo .. my Family does Not want this project or apartments.. on that corner or area..
How do we stop this? This is the first we heard of this..
Karen Zanki

Submitted by JoLynn on Sun, 04/03/2022 - 12:41 pm


Please respect the current Residents of Mission Viejo:

NO additional zoning added
Keep the current zoning as Office Professional
NO Whole Foods
NO apartments

The surrounding neighborhood would become overflow parking if this high density / mixed use development is forced into this insufficient space. Traffic along La Paz Road towards I-5 would be greatly impacted.

The Garden Plaza Project is not in the best interests of the current residents of Mission Viejo.

Submitted by Kathy Schinas on Tue, 04/05/2022 - 2:23 pm


Please do not rezone this area. I had planned to attend the meeting in person, but due to the continued threat of another variant of Covid I will not.
A decision to change the zoning to allow the Garden Project to continue would have a major negative impact on future generations that live here. Both sides can put financial reasons for and against this project, but no one can place a value on the beautiful character and charm of the city of Mission Viejo. Do the right thing and protect our city from the Garden Project. It’s at the heart of our city.
Respectfully yours,
Kathy Schinas

Submitted by Eileen A Roth on Fri, 04/08/2022 - 9:55 am


I agree with all the no zoning change comments regarding the corner of La Paz and Marguerite for Garden Apartments. The members of the community have spoken and I believe the No Zone Change vote for Garden Apartments by long time residents of Mission Viejo should have priority over this project. Eileen Roth

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