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Huntington Beach : Appeals Filed on City’s Pierside Village Project

Two coastal commissioners and a residents’ group have filed separate appeals with the California Coastal Commission over the city’s recently approved plan for a $27-million downtown face lift.

According to a spokeswoman for Huntington Beach Tomorrow, one of the newest residents’ groups favoring slower-paced development to spring up in coastal Orange County, the project--known as Pierside Village--violates the state Coastal Act.

“This massive project, stretching the length of over three football fields, will in part cover existing sandy beach area and eliminate the view of Pacific Coast Highway,” said the group’s chairman, Geri Ortega, in a prepared statement Thursday. “In their enthusiasm to move the downtown redevelopment forward on an accelerated schedule, they (the council members) failed to modify the project to make provisions for a clear ocean view and to keep the existing sand area open for public use.”

It is estimated that Pierside Village will take up 87,500 square feet of space on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway, marking the first step in the city’s plan to renovate its aging downtown. The project will include Mediterranean-style architecture for 60 retail shops, three major restaurants and a three-level parking structure with room for almost 700 cars. City officials say they hope the project will spark other development downtown.

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Wayne Woodroff, the assistant district director of the Coastal Commission’s south coast office, said two commissioners filed a separate appeal on Pierside Village with the 12-member state body.

He said their objections were similar in nature to Huntington Beach Tomorrow’s.

“It’s an interpretation question over some portions of the city’s plan that deals with height limitations, what can or can’t be built on or over the sand and parking requirements,” explained Woodroff. The appeals, he said, are expected to be heard at the Coastal Commission’s December meeting in Los Angeles. The commission could approve the project as it is, deny it or make modifications.

Mike Adams, the city’s project manager, said, “This project clearly complies with the Local Coastal Plan.”

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