Mobile Home Park Residents Fear Effects of Unearthing Landfill

Sally Rather is disabled, has severe asthma and is afraid of what the toxic gasses and dust might do to her fragile health if the Forster Canyon Landfill in San Juan Capistrano is dug up.

And she is worried for her neighbors as well.

Many of the residents of the Capistrano Terrace mobile home park — which is adjacent to the San Juan Meadows site where the landfill is located — are “chronically ill, disabled, elderly and children who would suffer the most from the environmental impacts described in the EIR [Environmental Impact Report],” Rather wrote in a letter this week to San Juan Capistrano City Attorney Omar Sandoval.

The Meadows and Distrito La Novia sites have been the target of mixed-use development for years. On Aug. 3, a public hearing will be held on the latest development plans.

It is also possible that the mobile home park’s owner, Advanced Real Estate Services, will close the park. However, those plans have stalled at least in part because the company doesn’t have the money to adequately compensate the residents, Rather said.

I’ve put in a call to Advanced Real Estate Services partner Richard Julian but have not heard back.

In a story I wrote earlier this week, officials of the Orange County Waste and Recycling Department expressed the concern that digging up the landfill could unleash, among other things, hidden methane gas and volatile organic compounds.

County officials also said that more testing of the soil is needed and that if the EIR doesn’t go exactly as planned, the developer’s planned mitigation measures while digging up the landfill won’t be enough.

Meanwhile, Rather says she fears that plans to develop just 75 yards away from her home will be pushed through without solving her community’s problem first.

“It’s very disconcerting to give them [the developer] a general plan amendment while ignoring our health and welfare,” Rather said.

Rather said that the park’s residents just want to be treated fairly and that if the development goes through, the residents should be compensated first.

“I don’t care if it comes from the city, or if it comes from Rick Julian, but it needs to come,” Rather said.