Council approves community garden lease

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday approved a lease agreement that will allow the community garden to come to fruition.

The council unanimously voted on a five-year lease agreement with Southern California Edison for use of almost 2.5 acres of land for the Huntington Beach Community Garden.

"We hope this will be the first of several community gardens in Huntington Beach," said David Baronfeld, community garden president.

The land, southeast of Atlanta Avenue and Brookhurst Street and adjacent to the Santa Ana River, will be licensed to the city for $600 a year for the five years, according to city documents. The city will pay for the land out of the Park Acquisition and Development Fund.

The community garden will be responsible for paying for water and other operating costs, as well as any site improvements, according to city documents.

The council approved the idea for the community garden, which will have 84 15-by-20-foot plots that can be leased for a year, in December.

"This was a long process — we've been in it nearly a year and a half," said Councilman Devin Dwyer. "I'm really excited about this taking off."

Despite his excitement, Dwyer said he won't be getting his own plot to work.

"I have the ability to kill just about everything," he said.


Crosswalk preserved

The council also sided with a group of residents to save a marked crosswalk that serves Gisler Elementary School in Fountain Valley.

The council voted to uphold an appeal by residents to keep a painted crosswalk at Garfield Avenue and Suva Lane.

The Public Works Commission had voted to remove the painted crosswalk after the location's crossing guard got the ax in August.

The location was one of seven intersections that were cut out of the most recent crossing guard contract for a number or reasons.

Officials determined the location in question was being underutilized, but residents shot back that it was being used.

Resident Gigi Reynolds said her family, as well as others, use the crosswalk not just to walk to school, but to visit friends, walk their dogs and go to the park.

Removing the painted crosswalk won't stop some from crossing there, but will make drivers less aware that people can cross at the location, Reynolds said.

"How are you going to feel if this crosswalk is removed and a fatality occurs?" she asked the council.

Transportation Manager Bob Stachelski said the crosswalk was only being used by seven children during school hours, and all but one were accompanied by adults.

Stachelski said they don't want to encourage people to cross at the unprotected location. The marked crosswalk can also give pedestrians the false assumption that traffic will yield to them, he said.

Pedestrians have the option to use the traffic-signal-controlled crosswalk at Garfield and Ward, about 700 feet away from the crosswalk in question, he said.

The distance, though, would be too much for elementary students, said resident Chris Gandall, the appellant. Gandall said the move clashes with the city's go-green attitude and will lead to more students being dropped off at school instead of walking.

"It would seem that encouraging students to walk to school would be a good idea," Gandall said.

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