North Tustin Senior Housing Project is Delayed 10 Months

A proposed project by the Catholic Church to build a senior living complex in North Tustin was blocked Tuesday for at least 10 months, after county supervisors approved a temporary ban on issuing building permits for the project.

The moratorium, which was approved unanimously by all five supervisors, effectively reverses a 2011 vote by county supervisors to approve the project.

Led by then-Chairman Bill Campbell, supervisors voted in 2011 to amend a planning document for a portion of unincorporated Santa Ana, to allow the building of a senior living facility on a single parcel of land owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County.

That vote has been the subject of legal battles that have placed the project on hold for several years.

Although a trial court ruled in March 2012 that the vote constituted illegal spot zoning, a state appeals court later upheld the supervisors’ vote, with the rationale that the spot zoning advances an underrepresented public interest, housing for senior citizens.

With the appellate court ruling under appeal by a homeowners’ group that opposes the project, new Board Chairman Todd Spitzer took up the issue again in early January, convincing fellow Supervisors to begin the process of undoing the 2011 amendment and thus removing senior housing from the allowed uses for the property.

Tuesday’s action extended the original 45-day moratorium on building permits for the property by 10 months and 15 days.

By imposing a moratorium on building permits, the county is blocking the church from creating the grounds for a lawsuit based on lost profits and investment in the project, according to the county’s attorneys.

The full staff report is available on the county’s website.