Citing traffic congestion and safety concerns, nearly a dozen people urged the Huntington Beach City Council Monday to deny a proposal to build 48 residential units at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Ellis Avenue.
However, the council postponed taking action on the project until Sept. 3 because Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize was absent from the meeting.
“If you speak tonight, you can speak again [Sept. 3],” Mayor Erik Peterson told those in attendance.“That way, the entire council can hear it.”
Under applicant Tahir Salim’s proposal, the property at 8041 Ellis Ave. — currently home to a liquor store — would be redeveloped with a four-story mixed-use building that includes the residences, 891 square feet of commercial space and three levels of underground parking. It also would provide five affordable-housing units.
The site shares its eastern property line with duplexes and other low-density housing.
Residents told the council Monday about the traffic and parking woes they already encounter near the busy intersection — and said the proposed development would negatively impact the area.
Steve Farnsworth, a 36-year Huntington Beach resident, said the chosen location is too tight for the envisioned project and would be like placing a size 12 shoebox inside a size 13 one.
“It’s a small area,” he said. “You have four stories with 48 apartments in less than one acre.”
Pamela McCay said she lives on Patterson Lane, right behind the proposed development, and already struggles to find street parking because of the Elan Huntington Beach luxury apartments on Beach and Ellis.
Denise Nevin, a 42-year resident, said “the last thing that little corridor needs is a large complex.”
Salim, though, said he believes the project should’ve been approved by the city Planning Commission — which instead denied it in June, citing concerns with vehicle circulation and its compatibility with adjacent buildings.
Salim appealed that decision about a month later, pushing it up to the council to make the final call.
He said his project would help beautify the area, which currently attracts homeless people, and that he worked with city staff to reduce the proposed number of units because of residents’ concerns.
He also cited a study indicating the project’s traffic impacts would be minimal because the existing liquor store would be removed.
Huntington Beach resident Steve Shepherd said the city needs more affordable housing for educated millennials.
“I have an Ivy League-educated daughter that cannot buy a permanent residence in Huntington Beach,” he said. “She rents, making more money than mom and dad together, and she still can’t do it.”
Broadband committee formed
In other business, the council OK’d Planning Commission recommendations to study the possibility of building new sidewalks and form an ad hoc committee to explore creating a broadband plan as ways to revitalize the city’s industrial areas.
The council voted 4-2, with Peterson and Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta dissenting, to create the committee to review policies and outline goals for broadband, technology and transportation improvements within the city’s “research and technology” zone. The vote to look into adding new sidewalks in local industrial areas was 5-1, with Peterson opposed.
Peterson said he didn’t think the city needed another committee, adding that “government is the place where things come to die.”
He also said he was leery about potentially installing sidewalks because he doesn’t want industrial property owners to have to jump through unnecessary hoops to meet parking requirements.
Semeta heeded city staff’s recommendation to hold off on creating an ad hoc committee because a citywide broadband master plan is already under development. She said she wanted to first hear that report, which is expected to come before the council in two months.
Council members Mike Posey and Jill Hardy, however, noted that the commission’s request was to explore whether it made sense to add sidewalks, not require them.
Posey added that manufacturers in industrial areas of the city need high-speed internet to send huge files and said having the necessary broadband infrastructure in place could help attract the next generation of those firms.