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Huntington Beach City Council approves zoning changes for Magnolia Tank Farm property

The Huntington Beach
The Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday voted to approve land rezoning at the Magnolia Tank Farm site.
(Screencap by Matt Szabo)

The Huntington Beach City Council voted 5-2 to approve zoning changes to the controversial Magnolia Tank Farm site in southeast Huntington Beach during a virtual meeting Tuesday night.

Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz, Dan Kalmick, Natalie Moser, Barbara Delgleize and Mike Posey voted for the zoning changes, which were considered after more than an hour of comments during a public hearing. Mayor Kim Carr and Erik Peterson voted against them.

The move was the first step in paving the way for future development of the 29-acre site at 21845 Magnolia St. It would change zone use of the Tank Farm site from public/semi-public heavy industrial to four land uses: residential medium density, coastal conservation, open space park and coastal visitor serving/commercial.

The zoning change will go before the California Coastal Commission for approval, since it includes a Local Coastal Program Amendment.

Shopoff Realty Investments, which purchased the site in 2016, plans to build real estate on the land, including 250 single-family attached and detached units and a boutique lodge. The development also would include 19,000 square feet of retail and dining space, as well as parking and a new public park, Marsh Park. The existing greenbelt area known as Squirrel Park would be turned into another public park called Magnolia Park.

Tito Ortiz said TK Burgers turned him away Sunday because he wasn’t wearing a mask. The former MMA star has refused to wear a mask during the pandemic.

“I think that this project is an opportunity for us to start shaping a vision for what we want the area to be, and what the residents want it to be too,” Moser said. “I know there are mixed opinions regarding that, but one of the commenters earlier talked about it being a potential legacy project. I think that it has the potential to be that ... I think that the community benefits do truly outweigh the challenges. First things first for this, you have to check the public safety box. I believe that with the [California Department of Toxic Substances Control] letter and report that shows that they’ve met the threshold for residential building on the property, that would indicate that box has been checked.

“I’ve heard from some community members that it would be revenue over the residents, and I don’t believe that at all.”

The proposed zoning changes for the Magnolia Tank Farm site that were approved by the Huntington Beach City Council.
The proposed zoning changes for the Magnolia Tank Farm site that were approved by the Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday night.
(Courtesy of city of Huntington Beach)

The proposed development has generated controversy, at least partially because it is next to the Ascon property that is a former landfill. Work on cleanup of the site was paused in June 2019 and has not resumed. However, the Huntington Beach Planning Commission, which featured Kalmick at the time, voted 5-2 in October 2019 to verify the project’s environmental impact report was complete and approved a general plan zoning amendment for the site.

The City Council received 428 supplemental emails in regard to the Magnolia Tank Farm project.

In voting against the zoning change, Peterson said he didn’t feel the zoning change was compatible to the surrounding area, noting that the heights for houses in the project could be different than houses in the surrounding community.

Huntington Beach fire officials said multiple calls came in just after 4 p.m. from witnesses who saw smoke issuing from the Venture Drive residence. One house cat was rescued from inside.

Carr voiced concerns about building homes adjacent to the AES power plant “that won’t be going away anytime soon.”

“On the face of it, this project is really quite beautiful, but what I don’t like about it is the location of it,” Carr said. “It’s adjacent to AES, it’s adjacent to Ascon, it has Poseidon potentially next to it and the wetlands.”

Council reaffirms policy for human dignity, condemns U.S. Capitol attacks

The council voted 6-1 to reaffirm the city’s commitment to the Declaration of Policy of Human Dignity. The item also means the city’s Human Relations Task Force will develop and submit for City Council consideration an outreach plan, through which the city can continuously share details regarding its commitment to the declaration.

“I’m not for the Human Relations Task Force rewriting it or going out there or proselytizing,” said Peterson, the lone “no” vote. “They’re not representing our city on this.”

In another item, the council voted 5-1-1 to condemn the acts of violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as “affirming the city’s unwavering commitment to American democratic principles and practices.”

Peterson voted no, while Ortiz abstained from voting.

“We shouldn’t be involved in this,” Peterson said. “This outrage you guys have, or you’re scared or something ... the country has been burning down all summer.”

Moser, who introduced the item along with Kalmick and Delgleize, said she took offense to the comparison.

“There’s a huge difference between a demonstration and protests against systemic oppression and for human dignity and equality, versus an insurrection and violence that took place at our Capitol last week,” she said. “They’re not the same thing, and to make them apples to apples, they’re not.”

Meetings will move from Mondays to Tuesdays

In other news Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to move meetings from Mondays to Tuesdays, starting June 1.

Carr said the primary reason behind introducing the proposal was to give council members an additional day to get more feedback from staff and residents.

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