The Costa Mesa Planning Commission on Monday night moved developer C.J. Segerstrom & Sons one step closer to building the 94-acre Home Ranch office project on what is now farmland.
The commissioners voted 5 to 0 to amend the city's general plan to allow the developer to build 3.1 million square feet of commercial development that includes two office towers on a site bounded by Fairview Road, the San Diego Freeway, Harbor Boulevard and Sunflower Avenue.
The proposal to amend the city plan still requires approval by the City Council, which will consider it Feb. 3. Final action on the entire Home Ranch project is not expected until late February or early March.
Segerstrom initially had wanted to build a 3.5-million-square-foot development, but that plan was changed after residents filed a lawsuit against the project. Monday, the developer submitted scaled-down plans that trimmed the overall size by 10%.
Developers estimate that 11,000 employees will work at Home Ranch when it is completed in 20 years.
The first phase of the development, One South Coast Place, will consist of a twin-tower office complex on 16 acres. One tower will be 20 stories high, the other 12.
Segerstrom was forced to resubmit the project to the city after Superior Court Judge Tully H. Seymour ruled in November that the city's environmental impact report for One South Coast Place was inadequate, and ordered a new report encompassing the entire project.
A month earlier, the judge had ordered construction on the first phase of the project halted because the number of workers and the square footage of office space that would be allowed were not specified and because the project did not meet zoning requirements.
The ruling resulted from a suit filed against the city last year by a citizens' group, Costa Mesa Residents for Responsible Growth, which claimed the project would create traffic congestion, add to pollution and change the residential nature of Costa Mesa.
The commissioners Monday amended the city's general plan in order to accommodate the project. The general plan currently has no density limitation, but standards must be set to comply with the court order.
Residents for Responsible Growth claimed that the Planning Commission misinterpreted the court order by amending the general plan before a revised version of the project is approved by the City Council. The group accused the developer of trying to push the project through before the city adopts its revised general plan.
The city is now preparing its new general plan.