City temporarily takes over 1st St. restroom maintenance

This photo of the men’s room under the Seal Beach Pier was taken on Jan. 30.

City Manager Jill Ingram recently said the city was temporarily taking over the First Street restrooms located next door to 15 First St. According to Ingram, speaking in-person following a recent council meeting, this was because the restrooms were not being maintained.

District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick confirmed that that was the last information he had received.  He said that was all he knew. As for the dispute between the city and the tenants at the adjacent business at 15 First St., Kalmcik said that was being handled by attorneys for both parties.

Ingram said on Jan. 31, 2023 that the city was paying for janitorial services for the First Street restrooms and through the property manager the city was passing the cost to the tenants at 15 First St., apparently referring to the owners of the Beach House restaurant. In text sent the same day, Ingram put the cost at $2,000 a month.

Asked for a comment this week, Rosie Ritchie sent three clips from a March 12, 2018 City Council meeting. According to Ritchie, Councilman Mike Varipapa (whose term will end following the 2023 runoff election), then-Finance Director Victoria Beatley (now retired)  Mohamed Baghdadi, identified as the property manager, say that the public restaurants are not the responsibility of the restaurant. “The public restrooms do not rest on the premises of the property,” Ritchie wrote in a Jan. 31, 2022 text message.

The Jan. 12, 2023 Sun quoted an email from City Attorney Craig Steele that argued the tenants at 15 First Street were responsible for maintaining the restrooms in the detached building next door, based on the terms of the lease.

A copy of a March 12, 2018 email from the city manager to the Seal Beach City Council said that the city had taken over responsibility for maintaining the restrooms in the building located next door to 15 First St.

However, in a Jan. 17 email, City Attorney Craig Steele wrote: “This [is] a real estate transaction and the only document that matters is the Lease.  Emails don’t change the written terms of a lease.

“We are trying to engage with the tenants to resolve this dispute and won’t engage further in arguing in the press.”