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Could San Juan Capistrano fit the bill for Amazon's second HQ?

According to the Los Angeles Times, in its search, Amazon will prioritize areas with more than one million people, as well as those that are within 45 minutes of an international airport. 

Amazon has outgrown itself, and the 30+ buildings with 40,000 employees that make up its headquarters in Seattle no longer suffice.   

The company is making the rounds to several different cities on the hunt for the right location for "HQ2," which would bring an estimated $5 billion in construction and 50,000 new jobs.

To some, Los Angeles is a clear frontrunner, but others contend that finding the space to house the operation could take some serious doing. Meanwhile, mayors of cities across the U.S. are falling over themselves to put their best foot forward.

This got us thinking: Would San Juan Capistrano work?

Let's look at the numbers.

Going strictly off Amazon's prioritization criteria as reported by the Los Angeles Times, San Juan Capistrano would need a population of at least one million people and be close to an international airport.

If that's the sole critera, we're in luck: The city itself does not have a significant population size, but that's not necessarily a disqualifier. San Juan Capistrano is part of the Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine metro area, with a population of more than 3 million. And the distance from San Juan Capistrano to the John Wayne (international) Airport is roughly 20-30 minutes by car.

A few other selling points:

  • San Juan Capistrano isn't exactly a "cheap" town in cost of living, but for well-paid Amazon workers, it may prove more attractive than the cost of living as you move closer to L.A. 
  • If proximity to the major cultural hub of Los Angeles matters, San Juan Capistrano is - traffic notwithstanding - relatively close
  • Among other things, San Juan Capistrano boasts some of the most interesting and varied architecture in Orange County, and is a bona fide beach town

But San Juan Capistrano isn't the place.

For a city with a relatively small population and generally thoughtful commercial and residential real estate development, San Juan Capistrano itself would in reality not be the ideal place for Amazon's behemoth HQ2 and its 50,000 employees.

Open up the rest of Orange County to consideration, however, and you start to see many places where HQ2 could work, with reasonable commute times to and from San Juan Capistrano.   

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Amazon is searching for new headquarters, and L.A. wants to be in the running," James F. Peltz and Andrea Chang, Sep. 07, 2017

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