Vote for replacement Woman's Club headquarters postponed

The Planning Commission postponed a vote Tuesday on the Woman's Club of Huntington Beach's application to build a replacement headquarters near downtown.

The postponement allows the club to draft a list of conditions to address neighbors' concerns.

The commission was scheduled to vote on whether to approve a conditional-use permit and several variances for the proposed new clubhouse at 420 10th St. The club's previous facility there burned down April 30 in a fire presumably caused by an electrical malfunction, and members are seeking permission to build a nearly identical structure in its place.

However, after more than a dozen people spoke during the public hearing and commissioners asked additional questions, the club's representatives agreed to return at the commission's Feb. 28 meeting with a list of conditions for reopening.

Michael Adams, a planning consultant representing the Woman's Club, said the conditions would likely include limits on hours of operation and rules about live music and other noise. He expressed confidence that, regardless of conditions, a new clubhouse would eventually be built.

"There doesn't seem to be any objection by the Planning Commission to rebuilding the facility," Adams said.

More than a dozen speakers took the microphone during the public hearing, with some praising the club's history of community service with others calling it a nuisance in the neighborhood. Residents said groups that rented out the clubhouse often played loud music, served excessive amounts of alcohol and attracted an unsavory crowd.

Nesip Tarcan, who lives across the street from the site and has circulated a petition asking the commission not to grant the group any variances, disputed the notion that the clubhouse's historic value necessitated a replacement.

"I think we can agree the historical significance is gone," he said. "It can't be recaptured by building a modern building with similar features."

Carole Ann Wall, a member of the Woman's Club, presented a petition of her own that she claimed had 116 signatures in support of building a new clubhouse.

Commissioner Blair Farley said he had no problem with green-lighting a new clubhouse but felt the city should take an active role in minimizing conflicts with neighbors. The problems, he said, appeared to stem from the building's renters rather than the club itself.

"Do I object to the reconstruction of the club on its face? Absolutely not," Farley said. "I don't think a ladies' bridge club is going to create a huge parking problem in downtown Huntington Beach."

The club needs a permit to rebuild its facility in a residential-zoned neighborhood. It also seeks several variances from city code, including four parking spaces instead of a minimum of 73, 55% lot coverage instead of the maximum 50% and a 20-foot turnaround radius instead of 25 feet.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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