Seal Beach City Council members were largely optimistic about the opportunities and challenges facing our town in the year ahead. City finances and the future of local retail were among the challenges they cited. Opportunities that they cited included taking advantage of technology and having major employers in the community.
Below, in order of council district, are some of their comments.
Councilwoman Ellery Deaton, who terms out of office this year, said that it was largely because of the government agencies involved that the reconstruction of the Pier would not take place until after her term was over. The Old Town representative also said the rennovation of the Bay Theatre has begun. Because she is serving her last term, Deaton took the opportunity to also reflect on her time in office. For details of Deaton’s look at the opportunities and challenges in 2018, see Guest Column.
Councilman Thomas Moore, who represents Leisure World and College Park West, said, “For challenges I see the following: Safety is a big concern with the increase in crime over the past year. Crime increased 27 percent over the past few years. Also, coyotes have resurfaced as a problem.
“Financially, we need to figure out a long-term financial plan which includes how to deal with increasing pension requirements related to CALPERS and increased OCFA costs.
“Repairing the Pier will be a challenge dealing with the Coastal Commission and our Insurance to get it repaired quickly.”
“Opportunities: The City, as part of the strategic planning meeting, is beginning to look at doing a 3-5 year financial plan that we can review where it includes the increased costs of pensions based on CALPERS and other costs like OCFA. This should help quite a bit with long-term planning.
“There are opportunities to enhance our safety with more resources for the Police.
“With the renewal of the OCFA contract coming in 2020, the City has the opportunity to look at OCFA alternatives (we need to notify them in 2018 if we will renew or not) and review what will work best for the City for the long-term keeping in mind we want the best resources available when there is a fire balanced with the increasing costs of the contract.
“Taking advantage of technology could also be helpful to make things more efficient. The phone system and internet used by City employees should be more reliable.
“Also, I believe there is new software and existing software being used that could allow for improved communication and collaboration between departments. This is something we discussed at our last strategic planning meeting and the City is starting to address this as part of that.”
District Three Councilman and Mayor Michael Varipapa, who represents the Hill, said: “We have many opportunities/challenges this year. I am really looking forward to working with an excellent city council and city staff to achieve our goals this year. Some of which are the pier restoration project, renewing the State lands beach agreement, Gum Grove Park restoration, storm drain improvements, the aquatic center feasibility study and especially long (and) short-term fiscal sustainability.”
Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic, who represents College Park East, said, “This year will continue to be a challenging one for our city’s budget. We are faced with the rising cost of city pension obligations, which we have to balance against provements, including storm drains, and increased police staffing. Sales tax is an important component of our city’s revenue. As internet sales increase (vs. brick and mortar), and when gasoline prices are low, we receive less sales tax. Retail development in neighboring cities can also have a negative effect, so shopping locally can help our city.”
Councilwoman Sandra-Massa Lavitt, who represents Leisure World, said, “I know most of us love being in Seal Beach and count our blessings at being able to live in a community that has so much at hand.
“Over these one hundred years of Seal Beach we have developed our City with a focus on families and the types of community events with that focus. Many came with full families and continue to stay and live in our beautiful community.
“We’ve been asked what the challenges and opportunities face Seal Beach in the future. I want to focus on the opportunities facing us this year. Our community gives us a vibrant downtown that supports and enhances the City. We are lucky to have several major employers here in our City. We have a beautiful beach that is here for us to enjoy. Whether it’s a view from the pier or from the beach, how can anyone not love watching the ever moving water lulling us into a sense of wellbeing.
This community is blessed with many individuals who work all year long to bring family and community activities for all to enjoy.
“The City staff works closely with the Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club and many other groups that bring us all benefits. All of these positive events and activities will bring us all as much good stuff as we can handle. I love our community.”