Pacific City moves forward, with a few adjustments

The long-awaited Pacific City development in Huntington Beach cleared a small hurdle Monday.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the plans for parking at the outdoor shopping center proposed for First Street and Pacific Coast Highway, though with an adjustment to the hours of operation for restaurants and bars.

The item passed on the condition that restaurants and bars up to 27,000 square feet would be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., and larger establishments would have to close at midnight. The changes remove the potential of restaurants being open for 24 hours.

"We need to complete the postcard on the other end of Huntington Beach with Pacific City," Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Dianne Thompson said, referring to a statement by former Mayor Keith Bohr about making the city picturesque.

"It's just an eyesore. Certainly, there's some nice new fence screening, but it's very important that we complete this to create the kind of atmosphere that we want for our city, for our businesses [to] earn the tax dollars."

Mayor Connie Boardman had appealed the Planning Commission's 6-0 approval — Chairman Mark Bixby abstained — because of concerns about the lack of time restrictions on restaurants and bars.

She said restaurants and bars could have stayed open for 24 hours and served alcohol until 2 a.m. Boardman was worried that Pacific City would become like downtown Huntington Beach, where inebriated patrons have caused problems for residents in the area.

As the mayor and Councilman Joe Shaw suggested the changes, Lindsay Parton, president of the property's owner, DJM Capital Partners, indicated agreement.

With the shopping center Bella Terra, on Edinger Avenue, as Parton's proof of success in the city, Boardman and the rest of the council expressed confidence in his ability to turn the vacant dirt plot into a thriving destination for residents and international visitors.

"DJM has a track record in our town. They've redeveloped a dead shopping center into Bella Terra," Boardman said. "Our residents enjoy the shopping, entertainment and dining opportunities that are there now. Mr. Parton has brought in a nice mix at Bella Terra and is looking at bringing more upscale facilities at Pacific City. He's also not a developer that just builds and runs. He's been in the community for 10 years."

Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper expressed high hopes for the project.

"The thing [Pacific City] reminds me the most of is something not even close to here in Southern California," Harper said. "It makes me think about some of the well-planned-out shopping areas in Waikiki. And I think this can really help elevate our community, and we need to think of it in those terms."

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