SEAL BEACH : Huntington's Growth Plans Worry Council

The City Council has expressed grave concerns over efforts to update neighboring Huntington Beach's General Plan, fearing significant increases in traffic if the proposed maximum development levels there are achieved.

"Huntington Beach is becoming a new nation," said Seal Beach Councilwoman Marilyn Bruce Hastings after reviewing a report that listed proposed maximum development levels for that city by the year 2010. "It just blows me away."

Huntington Beach officials are preparing a draft environmental impact report on a revised General Plan that would allow construction of an additional 18,400 residential units, 3.2 million square feet of commercial space, 1.6 million square feet of industrial space and 2,800 rooms for overnight accommodations.

"If it's maxed out, and if the project developers are not required to mitigate those impacts, someplace down the road we might end up bearing the cost of road improvements," said Lee Whittenberg, director of development services in Seal Beach.

But Huntington Beach Assistant Planner Brian James called the numbers a "worst-case scenario" that includes 4,286 homes proposed for the controversial Bolsa Chica development. He also said the revised General Plan would actually allow less development than the city's current General Plan.

"This is just for the purpose of our environmental review," James said. "Realistically, those numbers won't be achieved. They are very inflated numbers."

Whittenberg said that even if the Huntington Beach General Plan revision were approved, it would not guarantee approval for individual development proposals.

But Seal Beach Mayor George Brown said he was not reassured. "Once the door is opened, it will be very hard to close," he said.

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