Council members put pier, beach trash and sand among 2020 challenges

Photo by Charles M. Kelly

Council members put the Seal Beach Pier, addressing beach trash, beach sand replenishment and potential sea level rise among the challenges facing Seal Beach in 2020, in response to questions from the Sun. Two council members also discussed the Main Street Revitalization plan, which is still in its early stages.

The Sun recently asked the five City Council members: “What do you see as the opportunities and challenges for Seal Beach in the year ahead? Do those oppor-tunities include promoting the city?”

The Sun did not receive comments from District Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt in time to meet the editorial deadline for this story.

As of Jan. 13, Massa-Lavitt promised to send the Sun her comments in the near future. The Sun will up-date readers with her remarks on a future date.

The direct quotations were taken from the council members’ emails. Minor spelling and punctuation er-rors have been corrected but otherwise the direct quotes are as they appeared in the original emails. Where necessary, some comments may have been paraphrased.

Mayor and District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic:

“As 2020 begins, a number of new opportunities are available to Seal Beach. These include new homes and a new park on the former DWP property, off of First Street,” said Schelly Sustarsic.

“A New Police Chief and Commanders take command of our police department, which has hired five additional police officers in recent years, and placed a focus on Community Policing,” Sustarsic said.

“A Main Street Revitalization Program will begin to solicit community input into looking at ways to improve landscaping and hardscaping, in an attempt to unify the three blocks of Main Street,” Sustarsic said.

“Community meetings will also look at the possibility for a restaurant to be located at the end of the Seal Beach pier. Also, a study begins to replace aging, worn playgrounds in several Seal Beach parks throughout the city,” Sustarsic said.

“We welcome new businesses at the Shops at Rossmoor: Burlington this fall, Fortune Cookies just after the New Year and, in February, Hof’s Hut is due to move into its new location. Seal Beach will be welcoming a New Community Development Director and Director of Finance to our city management team. And, hopefully, all these will help to bring additional revenue to our city,” Sustarsic said.

“There are a number of challenges that Seal Beach will face in the coming year. One of these is increasing extremes in climate, which results in periods of drought and periods of flooding. The California Coastal Commission now requires our city to include planning for Sea Level Rise. Seal Beach also has to replenish sand on a regular basis due to beach erosion. Paying for sand and/or transportation of it is always a challenge for our small city. The Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station has just recently begun their new Ammunition Wharf Project, starting with a dredging operation,” Sustarsic said.

She cited the possibility that Seal Beach might be able to obtain that sand as an opportunity, provided it “is not tainted and is an appropriate type of sand for replenishing the local beach,” Sustarsic said.

However, in a Jan. 13 email to the Sun, Gregg Smith, the Public Affairs Officer for the Naval Weapons station, said the base “will probably not know anything definite until towards the end of the project.”

Beach trash was also on the mayor’s mind.

“Another challenge is the increasing amount of trash that has washed down the San Gabriel River onto our beach. Thank you to Mayor Pro Tem Joe Kalmick for his efforts, working with Congressman Harley Rouda, State Senator Tom Umberg, Assemblyman Tyler Diep and their staffs to try to tackle this issue,” Sustarsic said.

She also addressed an issue that directly affects College Park East.

“In 2020, the I-405 Improvement Project advances and work on the project will begin to move into our area. The Almond Avenue sound wall planning process continues and construction is scheduled to begin this fall. Preliminary work, in preparation for this project, will begin this spring or summer, along Almond Avenue,” Sustarsic said.

“A barrage of new state laws that affect housing and zoning have recently been enacted. These are the state’s attempt to increase the housing supply in California. Unfortunately, these laws erode local control. A series of laws on Accessory Dwelling Units are now in place which could contribute to increased parking problems in our neighborhoods. (SB 50 was put on hold last year but will be back; it would allow four-plexes in single-family neighborhoods and apartment houses near transit lines). The state is also requiring a very large number of additional homes to be planned for in the next decade, which would definitely be a challenge since our city is nearly built-out,” she said.

“Other challenges include issues of homelessness, traffic safety, changing laws for trash and recycling, increasing pension and retiree health costs for the city, and how to pay for a new pool,” she said.

In a follow-up email, Sustarsic wrote: “I forgot to include something about promoting the city. I think it could be worthwhile to promote the city in print media, such as in Sunset magazine or possibly newspapers. Perhaps social media could also be used.”

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick:

“For what’s upcoming, the following are the important items I am looking forward to either seeing completed or moving in that direction: A decision on whether to have a food serving facility at the end of the pier. We will be conducting community workshops to assist the Council in coming to a decision. A restaurant would have the potential of providing needed revenue for the City, as well as promoting our City’s amenities,” Kalmick said.

The city has not yet issued information about a schedule for the community workshops concerning the future of the pier.

“We are hoping to come to a positive conclusion with negotiations and quickly proceed with construction and opening of the Beach House restaurant down on the beach at First Street,” Kalmick said.

The city-owned restaurant building at 15 First Street was on the “closed to the public session” of the City Council Monday. However, no reportable action was taken, according to City Attorney Craig Steel’s verbal report to the Jan. 13 meeting.

“As our negotiations with the U.S. Navy draw to a close, an agreement for a land lease on the Base for a potential community swimming pool could be concluded by early this Spring. We will then begin community engagement to hopefully have a clear direction as to whether we still want a pool, and what type. The major hurdle, of course is going to be the cost. So, we have a lot of work to do together, and I hope everyone will step up and participate,” Kalmick said.

The council held a community swimming pool workshop Monday night, Jan. 13. [See story, page 1]

“We are continuing to work on our Local Coastal Plan to gain some local control in planning decisions, while trying to anticipate the many complications of sea level rise, and housing density mandates from the State,” Kalmick said.

“We are actively engaging with our elected of?cials to help us convince the Army Corps of Engineers that they need to keep their commitment to provide sand replenishment for our neighbors in Surfside. The situation has become critical. We also have the support of both Huntington and Newport Beach, as the natural movement of the sand from Surfside ?ows to both of those cities,” Kalmick said.

“And we are looking to leverage all of the support we can, from legislators, non pro?t groups, and hope-fully my recent election to the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy to do something substantive about the trash ?owing down the San Gabriel River onto our beach, as well as the pollution of the ocean. Along with our other Orange County representative on the RMC, Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt, we will try to create a reason for the RMC to focus beyond the many wonderful projects that have been done up river in both the LA and San Gabriel. In the new year we are going to continue to work with the owners of the Red Car, The Seal Beach Historical Society, to continue with the repairs and restoration that was begun last fall, and are badly needed,” Kalmick said.

“Main Street needs a bit of a face lift. Not a change, but some improvements. Signage, connecting the three blocks visually, street paving and intersection improvements, etc. As homeowners, we eventually repaint our homes, change landscaping, add new patio furniture, new pavers, and so forth, to make our homes more pleasant for ourselves, and more appealing for our neighbors and visitors. Look for notices from the City to participate at presentations from our consultant, and be prepared to provide your input,” Kalmick said.

District Two Councilman Thomas Moore:

“One of the opportunities is deciding what to put at the end of the pier. I have been informed that the City is going to have a few town- hall meetings to get feedback from the community in the early part of the year. It will also be exciting to see the new park open near the border of Long Beach and paid for by Shea homes. I have heard that the Bay Theatre will also open in 2020 where there will be opportunities for local theater with plays and musicals,” Moore said.

In a Jan. 6 email, Bay Theatre owner/developer Paul Dunlap wrote: “Work is underway creating the new auditorium so that from the curb on through the theatre it will all be ADA compliant.  Soon the concrete will be poured for the new elevations.”

Addressing the subject of promoting the city, Moore said: “With the new park, Bay Theatre reopening and potentially something happening at the end of the pier I believe these will be instruments in helping to promote the City.”

He also addressed technological challenges for Seal Beach. “One of the challenges that I have seen is that the technology used by the City is a bit behind. I’d like to see the City move to Office 365 so email runs more smoothly and also a new telephone system that we have been talking about for several years now. After the basics are improved, then I could see more enhancements where we leverage cloud technology to help streamline the planning process (where construction companies/developers can review plans online and get approvals/signatures digitally). If we streamline the process in multiple departments it makes residents happier because they get what they want faster and also has the potential of reducing costs in the future,” Moore said.

District Three Councilman Michael Varipapa:

“As far as opportunities and challenges- I see the hiring of the new police chief, comm. development director and budget director as a great opportunity for our city. We will have continuity and leadership with our new police chief and fresh eyes and new perspectives with new comm(unity) Dev(elopement) and budget directors. We have a great opportunity to continue to provide our residents a small town charm that is safe, financially stable and a great place to live – something that is very special and unparalleled in So. Calif,” Va-ripapa said.

“I don’t see a need to promote the city per se but to continue to display the positive things that are done in our city and the wonderful things our residents, businesses (and) city continue to achieve,” Varipapa said.

Council members put pier, beach trash and sand among 2020 challenges