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Huntington Beach City Council to tackle divisive Magnolia Tank Farm project

Map of where a car dealership could store up to 2,000 vehicles on a vacant site on the Magnolia Tank Farm property.
The Huntington Beach Planning Commission approved an agreement for a car dealership to store up to 2,000 vehicles on a vacant site on the Magnolia Tank Farm property.
(Daily Pilot)

The Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday night will decide if it will allow zoning changes at the Magnolia Tank Farm site in southeast Huntington Beach.

That will be one hot issue tackled as the council switches to virtual meetings.

The controversial 29-acre site at 21845 Magnolia St., which once served as an oil storage and pumping facility, has been managed by Shopoff Realty Investments since it was purchased in 2016. Shopoff plans to build real estate on the land, including 250 single-family attached and detached units and a boutique lodge, as well as retail stores and parking.

Rezoning would change the land from open public and semipublic space to designations that would allow for the Tank Farm development.

The city of Huntington Beach announced it will make the switch in keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate to limit in-person gatherings.

The Huntington Beach Planning Commission, which included new City Councilman Dan Kalmick, voted 5-2 in October 2019 to verify that the project’s environmental impact report was complete, as well as approving a general plan amendment and zoning change for the site. Kalmick voted yes to approve.

However, before the item could come before the City Council, it was pulled by Shopoff in December 2019 so that the developer could address some of the community’s concerns about the plan, including an Ascon property near the site that is a former landfill.

Nancy Buchoz, a longtime resident of southeast Huntington Beach, said she had originally had concerns that the development wouldn’t mesh with her quiet community.

“For me, now, after being involved in what’s gone on with the Ascon site, my concerns have morphed,” Buchoz said. “Is this a proper land use, even though it’s a great spot? Is it wise to put homes and families next to a site that has no schedule for completion of cleanup? They’ve been idle for 19 months.”

Work on the Ascon cleanup was paused in June 2019, at the direction of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, to address community concerns about dust and odor.

Others are in favor of the Tank Farm development moving forward, noting the jobs and money that the development would bring into Surf City.

“As the housing crisis in Southern California continues, we are desperate for new housing — move-up opportunities for grown children moving back to their hometown, expanding families needing a larger floor plan and empty-nesters downsizing,” resident Nicole Burdette wrote in a letter to the City Council. “From an economic perspective, revitalization of the Tank Farm can only increase neighboring property values and provide a much-needed boost to southeast Huntington Beach.”

A letter from Ann McCarthy, who lives a block east of Magnolia Street in southeast Huntington Beach, also was in support of Tank Farm development. McCarthy is the treasurer of the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservatory.

“In regard to the project and its relationship to the wetlands, we have worked with Shopoff from the very beginning of planning for the project,” McCarthy wrote. “The project takes into [account] all aspects of the wetlands in its layout, materials and how it relates to the wetlands. In fact, [it] celebrates the wetlands and incorporates education into its common areas.”

Tuesday’s City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. and can be watched on channel HBTV-3 or online at huntingtonbeach.legistar.com. Residents may send comments on agenda items to supplementalcomm@surfcity-hb.org.

Communications received by 2 p.m. Tuesday will be distributed to the council prior to consideration of agenda-related items.

Residents are encouraged to submit comments during the meeting via Zoom. The Webinar ID is 971 5413 0528 and can be reached via the Zoom app or by calling (669) 900-6833 and entering the ID. Individuals will be placed in a holding queue and prompted to speak when the city clerk announces their name or the last three digits of their phone number.

Time for remarks is limited to 3 minutes.

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