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Council votes against LA Fitness permit By Charles M. Kelly | Sat, Jul 30 2016 09:00 AM

Following hours of testimony before a packed chamber, the City Council this week voted against the construction of an LA Fitness club in a local shopping center.

Representatives of the Rossmoor Park homeowners’ association  had asked the council to reconsider the Planning Commission’s recent vote to grant a permit to allow the construction of a proposed 37,000-square-foot health club in the Shops at Rossmoor (which is in Seal Beach).On Monday, the council voted 3-2 to uphold the appeal—which means the city will not issue a permit for the club. District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa and Mayor Sandra Massa-Lavitt of District Five cast the no votes.

District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton and District Two Councilman David Sloan both cited the concerns for safety of children as reasons they opposed the project. Deaton proposed putting housing in the center. District Four Councilman Gary Miller said the developer had not adequately addressed the noise and parking issues. He said the project was not compatible with the neighborhood.

Mayor Massa-Lavitt, who represents District Five, said that just because the property was under used now didn’t mean it would always be that way. She argued that after the club settled in, area residents would not experience the problems they expected to experience.

According to District Three Councilman Michael Varipapa, “I totally empathize with those who live next to the commercial shopping center, but I could not find evidence that this smaller scaled fitness center was any more incompatible with the neighborhood than the existing uses or other uses which may be built by right (without any public hearings).”

Marty Potts, a senior vice president with commercial real estate consultant JLL, spoke on behalf of the Shops at Rossmoor.

He said the project met and exceeded the standards of the California Environmental Quality Control Act. 

He said the proposed LA Fitness building would provide a buffer for noise from the Sprouts loading dock. Potts also pointed out that if the proposed building were for a retail store, the project could have gone forward by right without a permit and there would have been no public hearing.

Erin Jones, one of the local residents opposed to the project, said one of the peak hours of operations for the health club would be 7:30-8:30 a.m., the same time parents would be sending their children to school.

She expressed concern for the safety of children going to school when the traffic activity had increased. In all, seventeen residents of Rossmoor and Seal Beach testified against the project Monday night, citing concerns about traffic, parking, noise and public safety. Only representatives of LA Fitness and the shopping center testified in favor of the project, saying the project went beyond compliance with the code.

Technically, the matter isn’t over. City staff had recommended that the council deny the appeal of the Planning Commission’s deicision and had prepared a resolution to that effect.  This week’s vote means staff will have to come back to the council with a resolution to formally uphold the appeal. It is expected the council will approve that resolution.

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