Portola Hills - Portola Center Community Meeting

Last night to a "small" crowd of Portola Hills residents and the developers (Rancho Portola Investments, LLC and USA Portola Properties, LLC) gave an update of the current status of the new development coming to Portola Hills.

Overall it was just a briefing that often got side tracked as it is evident residents aren't over ally happy about the new development. But whether happy or not, it is coming as the land owners have a right to develop the land they own and the city of Lake Forest is builtout. Hopefully there is truth in what the developers noted and they plan to work with the community to ensure the communities needs and concerns are met.

First off, with the current economy there has no doubt been a delay but work is beginning. The prelim project has been approved by the city now the developer is working on the final approvals that will take at least 12 months, with community reviews along the way through the environmental process. That being said, ideally the construction will most likely start in about 18 months, of course sooner if the real estate market permits.

One aspect of the project is being pushed forward which was originally going to be the last portion of the project and that is the release of the open space. The developers have agreed to reserve or give up (not sure what the right term is) 30 acres of open space to the city and/or county. This will happen on the front end.

In addition, in early April the city finalized the purchase of a 6 acre parcel from a private party which is located 1300 ft north of Glen Ranch Road and is adjacent to Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. "The goal of this purchase is to preserve open space and respond to the cities desire to expand recreation facilities i.e. sports parks" you can find more details about this at http://www.ocparks.com/whitingranch.

A couple of key things have changed. Originally the plan noted for 40,000 sq. ft of commercial, the new plan is to reduce that amount and increase the number of single family homes vs. multi-family homes. Estimated numbers now are 10,000 -12,000 sq. ft commercial and 930 residential units.

Concerns from the community include:

  • Requirement of affordable housing and what this includes

  • Traffic concerns with an increase of 3000 residents to the area

  • Timing of when traffic studies will be concluded (last traffic study was during the summer when traffic is at it's lowest point)

  • Parking concerns with the current multi-family developments and adding more

  • Portola Elementary Repairs

  • Quality concerns with the developer Baldwin & Sons, due to previous construction issues and lawsuits.

  • Retail development and what it includes

  • Lack of city services representation and school district in the process
Overall for most Portola Hills residents keeping the current natural appeal is very important. So feedback to the developers and the city of Lake Forest is critical.

On a personal note, from my professional experience, the increase in Single Family Homes vs. Multi-Family homes is going to come down to a final market review. Where the real estate demands is going to be key in what mix is finalized. There is only so much space so increasing the number of Single Family Homes means either the lot sizes are going to be smaller or the homes sizes are going to be smaller.

As a home owner and real estate professional in the area, a key attribute to the appeal of the area is generally Portola Hills has larger lot sizes with great views. I hope the developers keep this in mind.

If you would like to be included on an email or website the developers is developing (lol) to be updated direct then please do not hesitate to contact us directly and I will forward you the appropriate contact information or stay tuned to Portola Hills Living for updates.

I would love to know what you think about the new development. Is it good for the community, do you think it helps resale values, do you like the idea of having more sports/recreation areas in the area, what type of retail would you like to see here, current vote is for a Trader Joes, coffee house and no self storage, gas stations etc.

Hope you found this information informative.
The above information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.


Trudi said…
HI Kelly, If we are going to have commercial dwellings in this area, that would be great. I like the idea of a Trader Joe's/coffee house. The only thing I don't like about living in Portola is not being able to walk to grocery stores or other commercial dwellings. Gas is expensive and my feet are not. With new homes and the market being down, how long are these houses going to take to sell and will we have vacant homes. I know the market will eventually pick up. When we have these meetings again, there should be more notice in the community about them, especially on the day. I forgot about the meeting.

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