In 1997, Home Depot flew into San Juan Capistrano with plans to build a 130,000 s.f. store on 15 acres of land abutting the Capistrano Valley Mobile Estates. According to residents and the Capistrano Valley News, the Home Depot would have been literally within yards of residential property. A committee of residents was formed to oppose the project, and they managed to clip its wings. The Home Depot plan never reached formal public hearings. A traffic study was conducted, and the city asked for an Environmental Impact Report. The plan eventually was tabled, after the agreement to negotiate for the purchase of the city’s portion of the land expired. But Home Depot has not gone away from Capistrano, and neither has the 400 member No Home Depot Committee. Home Depot recently closed on a land deal on a 2 acre parcel of land, and has asked the city to allow them to stockpile dirt on the property. The Depot wants to deposit 32,000 cubic yards of dirt on the land, clearly for future construction plans. Home Depot says the dirt is designed to fill the area to bring it up to the same surface level as the adjacent property. No further talks between the city and Home Depot have taken place, because the community is still in the process of updating its 1974 General Plan. The city’s planning director recently described the General Plan update as oriented towards “maintaining the natural character” of the city, “protecting the traditional downtown image…all with the goal of creating that special sense of place to live and raise our children.” These kind of statements have been the theme in Capistrano for the past quarter century, and at face value would appear to make a Home Depot at 130,000 s.f. seem implausible. But, like the swallows, Home Depot is back in Capistrano, making it clear they want to build. “We don’t want to make a decision until the city decides what’s best for the city,” said a Home Depot spokesman. “Obviously, we are interested in opening a store there.” Jack Heath, the chair of the No Home Depot Committee, told reporters: “We are steadfastly against it. We still believe a Home Depot doesn’t belong in the city. We’re waiting to turn up our offense. We will stand up to Home Depot.” It looks like the only thing that has changed in Capistrano is the season.
It’s not as if the good residents of San Juan Capistrano have been deprived of Home Depot services. It turns out there are no less than 13 Home Depots in Orange County, with 2 more on the way. The expectant communities are Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. Home Depot in the past has been attracted to mobile home parks. In Santa Rosa, CA, Home Depot actually went as far as delivering “relocation notices” to elderly homeowners in the Journey’s End park. But the senior citizens turned the tables on the Depot, and the Home Depot journey came to an end in Santa Rosa. For details on the Santa Rosa case, see the “Home Towns, Not Home Depot” article page of this website. For more information on the San Juan Capistrano effort to keep out Home Depot, contact Jack Heath at 2600 Ave, Aeropuerto 225, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675.