Possible Bolsa Chica development project to be heard at H.B. Planning Commission meeting

Possible Bolsa Chica development project to be heard at H.B. Planning Commission meeting
Kim Kolpin, Bolsa Chica Land Trust executive director, speaks as she stands on a parcel of land at Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach in 2016. The possible development of a townhome complex on part of the site was disputed for years. (File photo / Daily Pilot)

The details of a possible Bolsa Chica development project once mired in controversy will be presented Tuesday to the Huntington Beach Planning Commission.

Signal Landmark, a real estate developer, is requesting amendments to the land use and zoning classifications on half of the 5-acre Windward site on the Bolsa Chica mesa for 36 townhome units, a city staff report says.


The amendments include a variety of entitlement requests, including modifying the land use designation from open space to residential.

As part of the proposal, Signal would then dedicate a remaining 8.7 acres of the surrounding mesa area to public open space to be controlled by a government agency or nonprofit, the report says.


However, this plan will only go into effect if the Trust for Public Land cannot raise enough funds by October to purchase all of the roughly 11-acre land from Signal, in order to preserve it.

This agreement arose after years of dispute between the city, Signal and the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.

Signal is undergoing the entitlement process for this alternative project for the sake of saving time, since it can take years, but the TPL's purchase of the land is the favored option by all, said Kim Kolpin, executive director of the trust.

The trust will not oppose Signal's alternative process as long as it stays within the bounds of the agreement, Kolpin said.

Signal originally proposed in 2008 the project on the Windward property. It required a request to amend the land and zoning classifications of the property from open space to residential in order to build a 22-unit development, the report says.

The city approved the project in 2010, and in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, included adopting a Mitigated Negative Declaration, which determines the impact of the project on the environment.

The project then went before the California Coastal Commission because the parcel sits in the city's coastal zone.

In response, the Land Trust sued the city later that year, claiming it should have prepared an environmental impact report rather than the MND, but the lawsuit was tabled pending the outcome of the commission's review, the report says.

Thetrust at the time said the project risked endangering a site that was home to 9,000 years of Native American artifacts.

Then, the city and Signal withdrew the proposal in 2014 from the commission's deliberation and, about two years later, the trust dropped its lawsuit and entered into the current agreement, which has the two options, both aimed at preserving the majority of open space on the site.

Kolpin said she believes the TPL will be able to purchase the land but may extend the deadline past October, which is authorized in the agreement.

In March, the city's Environmental Assessment Committee approved a draft MND for the 36-unit alternative proposal, stating that it "would result in environmental impacts that are less than significant or less than significant with incorporation of mitigation measures," the report says.

The committee, formed by a staff member from the Community Development, Public Works and City Attorney's departments, is tasked with analyzing potential environmental issues from project proposals.

The report was made available for public review on the city's website from March 9 to April 10.

Eleven letters were sent to the city, some expressing concerns about changing the land and zoning designations of the property, city Associate Planner Tess Nguyen said.

Associate PlannerTess Nguyen,

The public will be able to address the topic Tuesday during public comments but the actual public hearing is June 27.