In southeastern Huntington Beach by Pacific Coast Highway, the AES power plant billows white smoke into the sky. A few block north, the Ascon Landfill Site continues its removal of toxic waste. Poseidon Resources awaits approval of its plan to install a water desalination plant on the coast.
But the area near Hamilton Avenue and Magnolia Street may soon have 32 acres of vacant land, and some residents are rooting for green to fill that space.
Plains All American Pipeline, owner of 21845 Magnolia St., has announced plans to remove three oil storage tanks adjoining the power plant. If the city's zoning administrator approves the proposal at its Jan. 19 meeting, the company expects to demolish three empty above-ground crude oil storage tanks and about 2,342 linear feet of above-ground transfer piping within several weeks.
Hayden Beckman, a planning aide for the city, said he didn't know what Plains All American Pipeline's future plans were for the property. He noted, though, that the city's general plan identifies the industrial southeastern area as in need of visual improvement, and that the oil tank site is zoned for public or semi-public use.
"I think it's a fine opportunity to improve the visual appeal of that area," Beckman said. "So we're pushing it through and making it happen. It's a pretty straightforward request."
Others in town would also welcome a non-industrial use for the property, saying a park or library or even residential homes would be an improvement.
Marinka Horack, a retired teacher who has lived in the neighborhood since 1976, said many residents used the slim grassy area that borders the property on Magnolia Street and would love to see it expanded.
"It would be wonderful to have a park or even a wetlands, if that's feasible and wouldn't do damage to the environment," she said. "That would be best, to leave it as open space."
Merle Moshiri, a former southeast resident and president of a grassroots group dedicated to fighting the desalination plant, also said she would welcome more visual splendor in a part of Surf City rarely renowned for it.
"We get all the noxious stuff over in southeastern Huntington Beach," she said. "So if it doesn't ooze and pop, that's a victory for us."
Ideally, Moshiri would like to see a park or library on the site
"But I'm just not sure it will ever contain anything like that because of soil contamination," she said.
A spokeswoman for Plains All American Pipeline did not return a call seeking comment.
The oil tanks' demolition is subject to a 30-day public review period scheduled to end Jan. 3. A copy of the project's draft mitigated negative declaration, a document arguing that the project will not have a major environmental impact, is on file with the Planning Department and city clerk's office, at the Huntington Beach Central Library, and at http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/Government/Departments/Planning/Environmentalreports.cfm.
If the zoning administrator approves the project, residents will have 20 days to file appeals, Beckman said. The California Coastal Commission must also approve the demolition.