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Huntington Beach City Council votes to appeal RHNA allocations

Beach Boulevard is one of the main streets in Huntington Beach.
Beach Boulevard is one of the main streets in Huntington Beach, which has been slated to zone for more than 13,000 new residential units in the latest Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers provided by the Southern California Assn. of Governments.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Huntington Beach City Council unanimously voted to appeal the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers in a closed session on Monday night.

City Atty. Michael Gates said that a motion was made by Councilwoman Jill Hardy and seconded by Mayor Lyn Semeta. The motion passed 7-0.

Huntington Beach has until Oct. 26 to appeal its RHNA allotment for the sixth cycle, which runs from October 2021 through October 2029. The current draft numbers state that Huntington Beach would have to zone for 13,337 residential units during the cycle.

The appeals process is expected to be finished by next February. Many Orange County cities, like Newport Beach, are expected to appeal their allocated number of units, set by the Southern California Assn. of Governments, as too high.

State housing officials announced in August 2019 that Southern California would have to plan for 1.3 million new homes during the sixth cycle, and SCAG decided that November to push for more housing in coastal communities instead of inland communities.

“There’s a lot of preliminary work that needs to be done before you even get to the number that you’re trying to accommodate,” Huntington Beach director of community development Ursula Luna-Reynosa told council members Monday. “There’s site assessment work that needs to be done. There’s a lot of work in these beginning months that will be beneficial for whether we have a 500 number or a 13,000 number RHNA.”

To that end, the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates to prepare for the General Plan Housing Element update and satisfying what the revised RHNA numbers might look like.

Nearly the whole contract of more than $505,000 will be covered by a $500,000 Department of Housing and Community Development Local Early Action Planning grant.

Police Chief Handy honored

Retiring Huntington Beach police chief Robert Handy, who has served in the role since 2013 before announcing last week that he was retiring, was honored by the City Council on Monday.

Robert Handy, who has been the Huntington Beach Police Department chief since 2013, plans to leave law enforcement by the end of the month.

Handy, his wife, Jennifer, and two daughters were in attendance. They heard tributes from Semeta, Huntington Beach Police and Community Foundation president John Etheridge, Huntington Beach Youth Shelter director Elsa Greenfield and City Manager Oliver Chi, among others.

Handy has said he plans to keep living in Huntington Beach following his retirement.

Assistant Police Chief Kelly Rodriguez will serve as interim chief until the city names a replacement.

Edison Community Center renovations

The City Council on Monday also unanimously approved a construction contract with Horizons Construction, in the amount of $915,048, for improvements at the Edison Community Center.

Planned improvements include renovation of the entire interior of the facility, including the lobby, restrooms, kitchen and multipurpose rooms, public works director Sean Crumby said in a presentation.

Construction is scheduled to be started after Election Day, Crumby said, since Edison Community Center is a polling location. It would be completed by early 2021.

“It’s very exciting news,” Semeta said. “Despite our financial challenges, we still are proceeding forward with some great improvement projects that benefit our community and our parks.”

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