CORONA — The City Council has approved plans for a 92,000-square-foot shopping center and multiple-screen movie theater despite fears that the project will result in morning rush-hour commuters using the center as a shortcut.
Council members gave unanimous approval to the Sierra del Oro Promenade on Wednesday but will require that the developer block entrances to the shopping center's parking lot should traffic become unmanageable. If necessary, the lot would be blocked by a fence or chain during the morning rush hour when the businesses in the center will be closed.
Some residents fear that commuters will cut through the center's parking lot and tie up Dominguez Ranch Road, the main access road to several housing tracts of the Sierra del Oro planned community.
Last year, the city closed San Ramon Road, a residential street in the Sierra del Oro community, to through traffic because residents complained that their residential streets were being used for shortcuts.
Even so, the developers of the project, Olympic-Barrington Partnership, said that blocking parking lots is unusual and possibly dangerous.
"The traffic out there is not of our doing," said James O'Malley, a consultant for the project. "I see nothing that would be gained by putting up a chain fence. I would vigorously oppose that."
O'Malley added that commuters might not be able to see such a barrier and get in an accident.
"You can only do so much to control the public," O'Malley said. "I've read about people doing heroic things just to get ahead of one car."
Developers also have agreed to widen a portion of Green River Drive near the center to four lanes, and will add traffic signals for the center's parking lot if it is necessary.
Several residents also said they fear that the center, to be built on 10 acres at the southeast corner of Green River Drive and Dominguez Ranch Road, will attract many visitors from outside their neighborhood because of the movie theaters.
Adrienne Potter, leader of Citizens for Responsible Growth and Order, said she fears that teen-agers will loiter in the center's parking lot. But some council members doubt that the problems would get out of hand.
"This is for the people of Sierra del Oro," Councilman William W. Miller said. "It's not meant to have regional use."