Any impacts on city services, infrastructure, and the environment from the redevelopment of the property are required to be analyzed under the State environmental law known as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). State law specifically requires an analysis of project water supply availability, which will be served by the El Toro Water District. Each public agency that provides service to the project will be asked to comment on potential impacts the project would have on the services it provides. If project impacts are determined to be “significant,” it is possible for the project to be modified, or for “mitigation measures” to be applied in order to reduce one or more significant impacts. For example, a problem of localized flooding could be solved through the construction of more storm drain systems. The cost of infrastructure needed to serve the project will be the responsibility of MGP.
Since none of the special studies needed to determine if the proposed project will have any significant impacts on city infrastructure or on the environment have been provided to the City, questions about impacts cannot be answered at this time but will be made available for public review and comment once completed. The City anticipates that these studies will be available in the second quarter of 2020. The studies will be reviewed by City staff and special consultants the City retains to provide technical expertise on specific environmental subject matters such as traffic. It should be noted that the City must also notify the Saddleback Valley Unified School District of the new project.
Additional information regarding CEQA is available from the State at: http://resources.ca.gov/ceqa/more/faq.html.
March 2021 Update: The project’s environmental analysis has been completed. The analysis and studies prepared for the project concludes that there are no new or greater impacts than those analyzed for the Five Lagunas project or the original General Plan Program EIR. Generally, CEQA provides that an update (formally known as an “Addendum”) to a previously approved Environmental Impact Report (EIR) can be used to analyze a project provided that there are no new significant effects that were not examined in a prior “Program” EIR (or PEIR), there is no substantial increase in the severity of significant effects examined in the prior PEIR, and that there are no new mitigation measures. The project addendum contains over 8,000 pages of analysis, including all technical studies to evaluate the impacts from the project compared to the Addendum EIR for Five Lagunas, and the original General Plan PEIR. The City anticipates increasing police services with the increased activity the project will bring. Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) has also indicated that it will be impacted by the project. However, state law provides that the payment of school fees to a school district satisfies any impacts a project may have on a school district. SVUSD is expected to receive at least $8 million in one-time school fees from the project, in addition to on-going revenues to the district from increased student population.
The project CEQA analysis and studies are available for review on the City’s website at: https://www.lagunahillsca.gov/176/Planning-Projects-New-Developments under “Village at Laguna Hills”.