Council OKs zone change for industrial site 4-1

The Seal Beach City Council approved an ordinance that rezoned 4 acres of industrial land to be the potential site of high-density residential housing at the agency’s Monday, July 22 meeting. The vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Ellery Deaton dissenting. A few residents spoke out against the zone change during the public comment segment of the meeting.

However, the council members were apparently not persuaded by their arguments.

At a previous meeting, the council voted 2-2 on the zone change. Councilman Michael Levitt abstained on that occasion.

In related news, the council received and filed a staff report that says a maximum of 50 houses or 65 condominiums could be built on the land under the current city code. Opponents of the zone change have said 90 homes could be built on that land.

Recently, Community Development Director Jim Basham said that figure was based on the raw square footage of the site. According to Basham, the 90-unit figure given by rezoning opponents did not take into account city regulations that would reduce the actual number of units that could be built on the land.

State housing mandate

State law mandates that Seal Beach designate some location in the city for high density residential housing to provide for a minimum of 21 potential houses.

The requirement must be met to have a legally valid “Housing Element” to the city’s General Plan.

The city had until Oct. 15 and 120 more days after that deadline to meet the state requirement. If Seal Beach did not comply, the city could be exposed to a lawsuit and the possible loss of its authority to issue building permits.

The city would also have to update its Housing Element every four years instead of every eight.

While state law requires the city to designate a potential site for high density housing, neither the state nor the city can actually compel anyone to build high density housing.

Some opponents of the Accurate Storage site zone change were concerned that the potential development of the site could ultimately lead to the closure of the Seal Beach Animal Care Center.

There is at this time no housing development project being proposed by the owner of the property known as the Accurate Storage site, located opposite Seal Beach Police Headquarters at the intersection of Adolfo Lopez and Seal Beach Boulevard.

Other potential sites for high density residential housing have been considered in the past, but met with resistance.

The Bay City Partners property, formerly owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, was discussed at one time but rejected.

Residents of Seal Beach condominiums on Montecito Road and the neighboring community of Rossmoor have objected to the possible rezoning of the Shops at Rossmoor to allow residential development there.

Residents of Seal Beach’s College Park East neighborhood have also objected to rezoning the shopping center.

The City Council has also discussed property near Marina Park, but the land is owned by two petroleum companies and might be contaminated. The owners so far won’t allow anyone to go on their property to test for possible contamination.

Number of units in dispute

While state law requires Seal Beach to come up with 21 potential homes, opponents of changing the zoning for the Accurate Storage site have said that as many as 90 units could be developed there.

The property owner of Accurate Storage has agreed to the zone change, provided the city allows the land to continue to be used for industrial purposes at this time. Seal Beach has already passed an ordinance allowing the continued use of the land for light industry.

Meanwhile a city staff report looked at how many homes could be built at the Accurate Storage site.

“Staff prepared two scenarios applying the City’s Municipal Code requirements and analyzing single-family and multi-family development opportunities. Under each scenario, the determination of buildable land area was calculated based upon land remaining after right-of-way dedication, parkland and open space allocation and perimeter buffer zones,” said a staff report by Community Development Director Basham.

If a developer wanted to build single-family homes, the city code would only allow a maximum of 50 lots.

“Under this scenario, the maximum number of single-family units is estimated to be 50 with lots at least 2,500 square feet in area. Minimum lot size under the code for single family development is 2,500 square feet. The amount of buildable land is 126,710 square feet,” Basham wrote.

There would be no park land available if such a project were built, according to Basham’s report. Instead, the city would charge the developer $500,000 in place of the parkland.

If a developer wanted to build condos, then 65 units could be built.  “The amount of buildable land is 85,030 square feet because cluster units require additional open space, guest parking, and perimeter maneuverability, for fire prevention vehicles and apparatus,” Basham wrote.