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Huntington Beach council to review previously denied Ellis Avenue condo development

Ellis Avenue condo rendering
This rendering shows a proposed project that would add a four-story building with 48 residential units and a coffee shop to the corner of Beach Boulevard and Ellis Avenue in Huntington Beach. The City Council will review the plan Monday.
(Courtesy of Tahir Salim)

A previously denied proposal to build 48 residential units at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Ellis Avenue will go before the Huntington Beach City Council for review Monday.

Applicant Tahir Salim’s project would redevelop the property at 8041 Ellis Ave., currently home to a liquor store, with a four-story mixed-use building that includes the residences, 891 square feet of commercial space and three levels of underground parking.

The site shares its eastern property line with duplexes and other low-density housing.

The city Planning Commission officially denied the project with a 6-1 vote on June 11, with Chairman Pat Garcia dissenting. Salim appealed the commission’s decision about a month later, pushing it up to the council to make the final call.

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Although the council is expected to review the project Monday, Salim has asked to delay any official vote until Sept. 3 because some council members are expected to miss the upcoming meeting. The council could accept Salim’s project or stand by the commission’s ruling, which cited concerns with vehicle circulation and said the development would be incompatible with adjacent buildings.

Salim’s pending proposal reflects a larger issue in Huntington Beach.

The project, which would provide five affordable-housing units, falls within the city’s Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan — an area currently under scrutiny by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state attorney general’s office.

In January, California sued Huntington Beach over what state officials described as the city’s failure to allow enough homebuilding to accommodate a growing population. That case is ongoing after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge recently denied the city’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

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The city put itself in a shortfall toward its state-mandated target for low-income housing units when the City Council in 2015 amended the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan. The changes reduced the cap on new residential development from 4,500 units to 2,100 and imposed stricter height and setback requirements after many residents complained about the rate at which high-density residential projects were popping up.

Doing so meant the city no longer had enough land zoned to accommodate low-income residents under state requirements.

“This is an important development for the city,” Salim wrote in his notice of appeal, stating that he believes his proposal would benefit Huntington Beach under the state housing mandate.

Six letters supporting the proposed condos — including from the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit — and four letters in opposition were submitted to the city as of Friday.

Salim wrote in his notice of appeal that his team “devoted substantial time, effort, thought and expense” to acquire the property, communicated with city staff via email to ensure his proposal complied with the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan and met in person with city staff on four occasions.

“There is substantial evidence to support the City Council’s action to approve the project,” Salim wrote. “The project fully complies with the objective standards expressed in the zoning code. Moreover, the project goes beyond the minimum standards to provide for both public and private open spaces well exceeding those base levels.”

Interim fire chief appointment

In other business, the council may appoint Dave Segura to serve as interim fire chief while the city conducts a nationwide search to fill the vacancy long term.

Segura retired as fire chief on July 26 after leading the department of nearly 200 employees for three years. He had said he wanted to spend more time with his family but was prepared to stay longer if the city needed help with the transition.

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If approved by the council, Segura would receive hourly pay of $106.31 with no city-provided benefits, starting Aug. 20.

Huntington Beach anticipates permanently filling the vacancy by late November or early December. Mark Daggett is currently serving as the acting fire chief.

Monday’s council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 2000 Main St.

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