Group contends city violated law

A Huntington Beach residents organization has filed its argument against the Downtown Specific Plan that alleges that the city violated its general plan and state environmental law when it approved the downtown changes.

Huntington Beach Neighbors filed a brief Nov. 9 for its lawsuit against the city claiming officials violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not adequately analyzing the impacts the Downtown Specific Plan will have.

The group filed the lawsuit in December, and it is expected to go to trial March 17.

The Neighbors contend in the brief that officials didn't complete a proper environmental impact report (EIR), which analyzes the effects the project will have, by failing to analyze traffic levels during the busy summer weekends and the full impact additional development will have on downtown traffic, and "manipulat[ed] planning documents" by eliminating the city's Downtown Parking Master Plan to reduce the ratio of parking required by square foot.

"Huntington Beach failed to proceed according to law and, therefore, abused its discretion by approving this Project," according to court documents.

The project was also approved without looking at the effects of "proposed, past, present and reasonably anticipated future projects" or analyzing the impacts of a cultural arts center on the Main Street Library that the group states is still a possibility, according to court documents.

The EIR also didn't properly look at aesthetics, noise, utilities, water or alternatives, according to court documents.

The Downtown Specific Plan is a long-range planning document that dictates building and parking specifications and design guidelines and will increase development over the next 20 years.

The group's aim is to reduce density, limit the expansion of liquor licenses and increase the buffer zones to the neighborhoods downtown.

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