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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Council to Vote on Pierside Village

A heated debate is expected at Monday night’s City Council meeting when a vote is scheduled on Pierside Village, one of Huntington Beach’s most controversial development proposals.

“It’s going to be close, however it goes,” predicted Mayor Peter M. Green, an opponent of Pierside Village.

The council will be voting on whether to accept or reject the Planning Commission’s approval of the project, which calls for building up to three new restaurants on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway just south of the municipal pier.

Local environmental groups have long opposed the project, saying it would ruin the city’s view of the beach and restrict public access to it.

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Supporters, including the Huntington Beach-Fountain Valley Board of Realtors, have said the project would beautify an area that now consists of paved parking lots. Supporters also claim that the project would improve beach access rather than harm it.

Save Our Parks, a Huntington Beach environmental organization, made Pierside Village a central issue last year when the group successfully sought to pass Measure C, a voter initiative. The measure, which won 71% of the vote in the Nov. 6 election, forbids the city from selling or leasing park or beach land without voter approval.

Pierside Village would involve the city leasing beach bluff land to a private developer. City Atty. Gail C. Hutton has said in a legal opinion that Measure C “probably” applies to the project.

Debbie Cook, spokeswoman for Save Our Parks, said Friday that she believes Pierside Village “definitely” comes under Measure C and thus must be put on the ballot before the project can be finally approved. She said Save Our Parks would take the issue to court, if necessary.

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The city’s staff is recommending to the City Council that it adopt a modification of the Pierside Village plan approved by the Planning Commission. Opponents, however, said Friday that no version of the plan is acceptable to them.

Jonathan Chodos, the developer who is spearheading efforts to pass the project, has said that Pierside Village would provide a parklike setting for the restaurant project. Chodos has said the project would greatly enhance the city’s redevelopment efforts.


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