Council approves report for proposed skate park

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Monday to hire a firm to prepare an environmental report for a proposed skate park by Vans.

The city is paying $222,900 for the report.

The money, however, is being reimbursed upfront by Vans, which has proposed to build, maintain and run what it calls a world-class skate park.

The city is paying PCR Services Corp., which is conducting the report, directly for the job to have oversight of the report and speed the process, said Scott Hess, director of planning and building.

"The idea is the consultant is working for the city, and we will review this report for accuracy in the analysis and conclusion, versus if the applicant pays to have it done," he said. "That could result in a longer process in time."

Vans proposes a 12,000-square-foot skate plaza, a 15,000-square-foot skate bowl area, walking space and a shop. The center is expected to be free and open to the public.

Vans plans to operate the skate park seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to a city staff report. The skate park is also expected to host about 15 large and 12 small events throughout the year. Each event is expected to last for about three days and attract about 2,500 visitors. Smaller events would attract about 300 to 500 people, the report said.

In order for the skate park to be built on the 2.7 acres on Center Avenue near Gothard Street, the city must amend its general plan zoning. The parcel was originally slated for mixed-use development and marked for 175 affordable housing units that were slated there to meet the state's housing element requirements.

The environmental report is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because the city has ministerial authority over it, the staff report said. The report will examine the environmental impacts of the changes to the general plan and the effects the skate park will have on the area, the report said.

Huntington Beach entered into an exclusive six-month negotiation period Jan. 18 with VF Outdoor, Inc. to build the skate park.

The move upset Center Partners LLC, a developer that proposed building a residential project on that site more than 20 years ago. Center Partners sent a letter to the City Council asking it not to enter into negotiation with Vans before it addresses the developer's concerns.

But the city had terminated its agreement with Center Partners years ago because the group's proposed project did not meet the city's requirements.

The environmental report is expected to be complete in the next four to five months, Hess said. Once completed and reviewed by the city, it will be sent to the Planning Commission and then the City Council for approval.

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