Coming before the City Council of Huntington Beach on Monday will be the Ward Garfield Specific Plan No. 16. This project will remove an existing nursery, located under Edison's high-voltage tension wires, and replace it with 395 recreational vehicle (RV) parking spots. This storage facility will be directly behind a senior citizen mobile home park in a residentially zoned neighborhood.
Besides the obvious fire danger of parking highly flammable RVs under power lines in a residential neighborhood, the closest RV spots will be only five feet from the mobile homes. Five feet, folks! Might as well put a bomb five feet from your bedroom window and just pray and hope that nobody lights a match. You would have to be naïve to think RV fires in storage facilities don't happen or it's just a "fluke." Recently, three RVs went up in flames in a RV storage spot in Huntington Beach. It took 21 firefighters to put out the flames. This fire also damaged the outside of a metal building nearby. According to Battalion Chief Bob Brown, the fire was "raging." Besides, having 395 RV storage spots under high-voltage power lines next to mobile homes is not a land use that is compatible with surrounding land uses. This project is the next BP oil disaster waiting to happen.
To top it all off, city staff is recommending this project because of a "need within the community." I would say "community needs" are police, fire, gas, water, electricity and phone, etc., and not an "RV storage" facility. Our research indicates there are more than 500 RV storage spaces available within a 10-mile radius of Huntington Beach. If the city wants RV storage facilities, why don't they put them in the industrial areas of town? There are empty car dealerships, warehouse buildings for sale and building leases available everywhere you look.
The city is trying to sell this "community need" to us when, in my opinion, there could possibly be ulterior motives taking place. I have noticed that down by City Hall, there are a bunch of terrible-looking old RV storage sites. I wonder if people are tired of looking at those "trashy" sites. According to my research, there are no zoning laws or codes for RV storage facilities in Huntington Beach; therefore, there is no way to "clean up" these facilities.
But, if the city approved an ordinance forcing RV storage facilities to have a dump station in the name of a "green project," to possibly prevent leaking black and grey water from getting into our water system, then most facilities would have to sell or close down. How convenient is it that there just happens to be this new RV storage site on the "other" end of town with a "dump" station? So, problem solved. Again, pure speculation on my part.
The city has also projected a budget shortfall of more than $2 million for next year. My research indicates a potential future need for four lanes on Ward Street. Currently, Ward Street has only two lanes in certain areas. My research also indicates that the city has to comply with the "Master Plan of Arterial Highways" for Orange County. So, if the city doesn't comply, apparently, it won't get its portion of the gasoline tax revenue from the county. Is it just a coincidence that the developer has agreed to pick up the tab for the extra two lanes and street widening?
Only time will tell if the "Great HB RV Storage Hoax" plays out. Watch the dialogue and most importantly, watch the vote on Monday.