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Northwest Open Space

The City-owned Northwest Open Space property is located west of Interstate 5 and Camino Capistrano, just north of Junipero Serra Road. Please see information below regarding the purchase history, land use and zoning designations, and current and proposed uses for the property. Reference documents and a chronology of past City Council actions related to the property are also available below. To review the history of previous City Council and Commission consideration of matters related to the Northwest Open Space, please access the archived meeting videos, agendas and minutes on the City’s website. A chronology of past City Council and Commission review is available for reference.

City Council Request for Public Input: On April 16, 2019, the City Council voted to hold public workshops to receive input from the community on potential uses of the City-owned Northwest Open Space (NWOS) property. Two community workshops took place on June 5 and June 24 at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center. Links to both workshop videos are available below. Public input received at the workshops will be presented to the City Council later this summer. If you were unable to attend the workshops we would still like to hear from you, written comments may be submitted to the City Clerk at 32400 Paseo Adelanto or 

Workshop Video:

  • Video - Community Workshop – Wednesday, June 5 
  • Video - Community Workshop – Monday, June 24 

Community Survey: The City released a Northwest Open Space Community Survey that allowed residents, visitors and business owners an opportunity to share their thoughts on potential future uses of the property. The survey was available from August 1 - 31, 2019. Links to survey responses are provided below. 

Location and Current Uses of the Northwest Open Space: The NWOS property is bounded by Camino Capistrano to the east; Southern California Regional Rail Authority right-of-way to the west; the Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park to the southeast; and an existing equestrian staging area, additional open space, and the confluence of Trabuco Creek and Oso Creek to the south. The property contains remnants of a citrus orchard and numerous avocado trees. The main entry gate also provides access to the Hamilton Oaks/A Stones Throw Winery venues and the City owned Swanner House historic property.

Bond/Purchase History: In a series of purchases from 1992 through 1995, the City acquired title to the NWOS property and used a portion of its Measure D Open Space Bond proceeds to fund this purchase. The Measure D Open Space Bonds were paid in full in August 2017 and, therefore, the property may be sold or leased without any bond restrictions.

Northwest Open Space Land Use: The current Northwest Open Space General Plan Land Use designation is Community Park (CP).  Community Park is one of eight Open Space designations included in the Land Use Element of the City’s General Plan.  As described in the Land Use Element, the Community Park designation provides for major active recreation sites, including large multipurpose fields for community events and informal recreation, sports fields and courts, concessions, maintenance/support facilities and caretaker facilities, among other uses. The Parks and Recreation Element of the General Plan also considers the NWOS appropriate for uses including, but not limited to, large multi-purpose open grass fields to be used for community events, active recreational facilities, lighted and unlighted sports fields, picnic areas, historical area, nature center, tot lots, hiking and biking trails.

Related Policy Documents: In 1995, the City Council adopted City Council Policy 506 that encourages group use and special events at the Northwest Open Space. Additionally, in 2010, the City Council adopted an amended Open Space Master Plan which states that amenities including active recreation, community gardens, group picnic areas, the Swanner House, historic orchards, and trails could be included on the property.

Zoning: The City’s Municipal Code governing zoning designates the NWOS property as a Community Park (CP) District. The purpose and intent of the Community Park (CP) District is to provide for major active recreation sites in accordance with the General Plan. The Zoning Consistency Matrix further illustrates the allowed Zoning Districts under the various General Plan Land Use Designations. Specific to the NWOS property, the Community Park General Plan Land Use Designation allows for Planned Community (PC), Community Park and Specific Plan/Precise Plan Zoning Districts.  

Request for Proposals: On August 15, 2017, the City Council directed staff to conduct a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the potential lease of a portion (approximately 22.5 acres) of the NWOS for limited use. The Council restricted the potential limited use to a lease structure (as opposed to sale of the property) and encouraged proposers to be cognizant of the current zoning as “CP – Community Park District” and the associated land use restrictions outlined in the General Plan Land Use Element and Zoning Code.

On October 3, 2017, the Council selected CBRE Group, Inc., as the broker to serve as the exclusive marketing advisor for the potential lease of the Northwest Open Space. After an extensive marketing program, eleven proposals were received.  

In May 2018, based on interest from one of the proposers, the Council directed staff to obtain supplemental proposals from the three finalists covering an expanded available lease area of approximately 40.5 acres. This expanded area is comprised of the original 22.5 acre site, with the addition of the 13.4 acre Community Park/City Open Space area, 2 acre staging area, and the 2.6 acre Hamilton Oaks/Swanner House area as depicted in the map below.

After careful review of the eleven proposals, the City Council selected three proposers for further consideration, listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Capistrano Vineyards Proposal, submitted as an all-inclusive family and tourist destination to include equestrian stables, mustang rescue, a winery, restaurant, event facilities, community classes, gardens, a tribute to Juaneno history, open space, Swanner House property operation, and an amphitheater (possibly phased).

  • Metro Commercial Realty Corporation/BrightView Proposal, submitted as a project with multi-purpose sports fields, parking, volleyball courts, and a community park/amphitheater, with the potential future use of the Swanner House property as a bed and breakfast/garden styling lodging.

  • Red Tail Acquisitions, LLC. Proposal, submitted as a traditional camping (tent sites, RV sites, cabins, cottages) and “glamping” (airstreams and safari tents) destination with public use of event barns/pavilion, equestrian amenities, pedestrian trails, Native American historical tribute site collaboration, community park, dog park enhancements, multi-use/soccer fields, and potential future use of the Swanner House property if desired by the City.  

Subsequent to the Council’s selection of the three finalists, Metro Commercial Realty Corporation/BrightView voluntarily withdrew from the process. On March 5, 2019, the City Council heard presentations from both remaining proposers and directed staff to bring back at a later Council meeting date an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Red Tail Acquisitions, LLC.

Red Tail Acquisitions, LLC. Proposal: If the Red Tail Acquisitions proposal were selected for further consideration, the applicant would need to request a change in the General Plan Open Space Land Use Classification from Community Park (CP) to Open Space Recreation (OSR), and a change in Zoning District from Community Park to Open Space Recreation. The proposal would also require a Conditional Use Permit for one or more aspects of the proposed use.  The chart below depicts the Northwest Open Space zoning designations and the associated zoning designation changes that may need to occur based upon the Red Tail proposal. The green highlighted column depicts how the uses are regulated in the existing Community Park zoning designation and the yellow highlighted areas indicate how the uses would be regulated under the Open Space Recreation zoning designation.   

P = Principal use permitted by right
X = Not permitted
A = Accessory use permitted by right
C = Conditional Use Permit required




GOS - General Open Space
OSR - Open Space Recreation
NP - Neighborhood Park
CP - Community Park
SP - Specialty Park
RP - Regional Park
NOS - Natural Open Space
RC - Recreation Commercial 


NWOS Community Park Project – “Putuidem Village”: The City Council previously reserved a portion of the Northwest Open Space for the planned Northwest Open Space Community Park Project, also known as the “Putuidem Village”, in homage to the site’s historical significance to the local Native American community. The City opened bids for construction of this project on August 21, 2018. The low bid exceeded the available project budget by approximately $700,000. Consequently, on October 2, 2018, the Council rejected all bids and directed staff to work with project stakeholders to determine whether some elements of the project could be modified or eliminated to reduce cost. Staff met with the stakeholders to discuss a potential revised Project and phased approach which focused on the cultural village amenities and would defer the corporate, equestrian, and off-site improvements to a later phase. Concurrently, the Council directed staff to communicate to the finalists of the Northwest Open Space RFP process a desire for the future lessee to fund the construction and maintenance of a Putuidem Village park project.  

On April 16, 2019, the City Council was presented with the Revised Conceptual Plan for the Northwest Open Space Community Park. The revised conceptual plan for the Putuidem Village maintains nearly all of the cultural amenities included in the original project, including but not limited to: a statue of Coronne, six ramadas, six kiichas, a community stone, cultural amphitheater, interpretive panels, and directional monuments. Project elements omitted from the original project’s scope of work include the equestrian-related amenities, multi-use trail, horse corral, corporate area, permanent restrooms, and a new parking lot. These elements could be added as part of a later Project phase or incorporated into a potential future use of the Northwest Open Space. At the April 16, 2019, meeting, the City Council voted to defer action on the Putuidem Village project and the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Red Tail until the public had an opportunity to provide input on preferred uses for the overall NWOS property.  

















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