What to watch for in 2012

A new mayor. A new Assembly representative. For that matter, a new queen.

Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley have plenty of things to anticipate in 2012 —and leadership is only part of the picture. Here are stories to watch for in the coming months:


Pacific sees land ahead

For years, the site intended for Pacific City has looked more like a ghost town than a city. But the long-dormant project may finally see progress in 2012 under a new owner.

Crescent Heights, a Florida-based company, replaced Pacific City's previous developer last summer. The company has also pledged to pay about $22 million for the construction of a new senior center in Huntington Central Park, per the city's agreement with the original developer, Makar Properties.

The City Council approved Pacific City, which would feature a hotel, condominiums and businesses on a 30-acre parcel, in 2004. Crescent Heights spokesman Steve Afriat said the company is still running numbers on the project to determine whether it will make changes in scope or cost.


Harper runs for Assembly

Huntington Beach Councilman Matthew Harper is running for the newly created 72nd Assembly District. The councilman, who works as the public affairs manager at the county's waste and recycling department, has racked up endorsements from Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and the Orange County Young Republicans, among others.

If elected, he would leave his seat before completing his term on the council and someone would have to be appointed to serve out his term.

Councilman Joe Carchio had said he was thinking about running for the same seat, but Orange County Registrar of Voters records showed that he was not qualified because he lives outside the district boundaries.


Five enter council race

Five candidates have so far expressed interest in running for Huntington Beach City Council. Councilman Devin Dwyer, the only incumbent, has also announced he's running for a second term. Councilman Keith Bohr will be termed out.

Realtor and retired Boeing executive Bruce Brandt Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jim Katapodis, Planning Commissioners Tim Ryan and Blair Farley, and small-business owner Dan Kalmick have also filed their intentions to run.

All candidates must return nomination papers to the City Clerk's office by Aug. 10 to appear on the November ballot.


Dekraai goes to trial

The preliminary hearing for the Huntington Beach man who allegedly shot and killed eight people and injured a ninth is set for April 24, and the trial is expected to follow.

Scott Dekraai, 42, faces eight counts of special-circumstances, first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is seeking the death penalty.

Dekraai was allegedly seeking revenge on his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, following a custody hearing for their child where the ruling reportedly didn't go his way.

In November, Dekraai pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors had expected an insanity plea, but the plea could change at a later time before the trial begins.


Fireworks up for vote

The sale and use of fireworks may be legalized in Huntington Beach for the first time this year since 1987 when it was banned.

City staff is expected to bring forward an ordinance for a vote following a 5 to 2 City Council vote in December to lift the ban.

The move went against both the fire and police chiefs' recommendations and upset many residents, who say fireworks pose a huge risk for the city and further stretch already short-staffed police and fire departments.

The ordinance, if passed, will make Huntington Beach the only Southern California beach city to currently legalize fireworks. But Mayor Don Hansen, who brought forward the proposal, said if other surrounding cities can do it, Huntington Beach can as well.


Poseidon up for permit

Poseidon Resources' Huntington Beach desalination plant, which the City Council approved in 2006, may finally get its last green light this year, as the Connecticut-based company expects to go before the California Coastal Commission in the next few months.

If the commission approves a coastal development permit, Poseidon will move on to the construction phase of the project, Vice President Scott Maloni said.

First, the company must renew its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit from the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. Poseidon's previous five-year permit allowed it to draw in water from the neighboring AES power plant; the company has applied for another five-year permit that would allow it to draw in seawater as well.

A hearing is scheduled Feb. 10 before the regional board.


Last bell rings at Moiola

Fred Moiola K-8 School is set to close its doors permanently July 1 after the Fountain Valley School District board voted last month to shut it down.

The School Boundary & Closure Committee, a 20-member group of parents, staff and community members, held a series of meetings last year to determine whether to close a campus. The committee ultimately suggested closing Moiola, the district's only K-8 campus, to save an estimated $375,000 annually.

Stephen McMahon, assistant superintendent for business, said the district is creating a transition plan to determine where Moiola students will attend school next year and where faculty members will be reassigned. The district doesn't intend to sell the campus at this time but hopes to use it as a revenue source, possibly by renting it to a private school, he said.


Ruling puts budget at risk

The California Supreme Court's decision to abolish redevelopment agencies, including the option to pay money up front to keep the agencies, could hurt Huntington Beach's budget if the city isn't able to collect on property tax from previous developments.

The city's redevelopment agency owes the city $80 million, which, if unpaid, would hinder the city's budget and possibly result in further cuts of services and even additional layoffs, said City Manager Fred Wilson.

The ruling came after many of California's cities banded together to challenge the state Legislature's move to eliminate the state's redevelopment agencies. The court also declared that the option for cities to pay the state to keep their redevelopment funds was unconstitutional.


Miss Fountain Valley crowned

The next Miss Fountain Valley may have still been a fetus the day the last one was crowned. The city held its last scholarship pageant in 1991 — and now, with a coalition of volunteers from the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and elsewhere, the competition is set to return March 10.

Executive Director Keeli Scott Lisack, an investor in Endless Food & Fun in Huntington Beach, has lined up more than a dozen contestants who are between the ages of 17 and 24 and live, work or go to school in Fountain Valley. Tickets for the show will be available at http://www.missfv.com starting Feb. 1.

The pageant will provide $11,000 in prize money ($5,000 for the winner, with the rest split among three runners-up) as well as a publicity boost for Fountain Valley. The winner will move on to the Miss California 2012 Pageant, whose winner in turn will go on to compete for Miss America.

michael.miller@latimes.com, mona.shadia@latimes.com

Twitter: HBindependent

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