Ongoing and upcoming issues: swimming pool, others

Seal Beach Mayor/District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic, left, poses with Esther Kenyon, right. Kenyon will be honored as the Seal Beach Citizen of the Year at the Cypress College Foundation’s Americana Awards on Feb. 29. (That’s the correct date—2020 is a leap year.) The City Council honored Kenyon at this week’s meeting. Photo by Charles M. Kelly

Parks Commission to take closer look at Zoeter and Marina sites for possible dog park

Editor’s note: If you have a question about a city issue—or a suggestion for filing a Public Records Act request—email Associate Editor Charles M. Kelly at

Dog Park

Following a site visit by staff to both Marina and Zoeter parks, Seal Beach staff will return to the Recreation and Parks Commissin with more refined plans for a potential dog park. The commission discussed potential locations for a dog park Wednesday night, Jan. 22. The staff presentation focused on Marina Park, Zoeter Park, and Edison Park.

There was a brief discussion of a dog area on the beach, but Recreation Manager Tim Kelsey described that as a separate conversation.

Edison Park is owned by Southern California Edison. Anything the city wanted to do there would require approval from Edison According to Kelsey’s staff report to the commission, there is no park infrastructure there and that “would have significant impacts on the cost of the project.”

According to the staff powerpoint presentation, Marina Park is owned by an oil company. Marina Park has designated parking. Zoeter Park does not. The next Recreation and Parks Commission meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Feb. 1 charity drive for families displaced by fire

A donation drive for families displaced by a recent fire will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 1. Organizers are seeking used and new clothing, gift cards, shoes, laundry detergent and toys for children and teens. The collection will be held at Rush Park, at 3021 Blume Drive. For more information, call or text 714-745-8505.

District Two Councilman Thomas Moore spoke this week about the recent fire in the Rossmoor Park condo complex at this week’s council meeting. He said part of the building that burned is functioning again, but said the other part would need a year to repair.

Update on city meeting with Rep. Rouda

Last week, the Sun reported that District One City Councilman Joe Kalmick, Mayor Schelly Sustarsic and City Manager Jill Ingram met with Congressman Harley Rouda to discuss sand replenishment and trash from the San Gabriel River.

Kalmick updated the council about the meeting on Jan. 27.

Kalmick said they reinforced “the increasingly desperate situation with sand on Surfside.”

According to Kalmick, Army Corps of Engineer generals confirmed that the project is on a list of projects for which Federal funds might be spent.

However, he reminded the public that “earmarks” for Federal funds no longer exist.

He expressed the opinion that if “California” appears next to “Seal Beach” on the list, the funds might not come.

Kalmick said they also discussed the San Gabriel River trash issue. According to Kalmick, the plant on the river will no longer capture water from the river. According to Kalmick, when the plant captured the water it also captured the trash.

Community pool outreach begins

The first workshop to discuss the proposed community pool project will be held at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, in the City Council Chambers. City Manager Jill Ingram announced the workshop at this week’s City Council meeting. Ingram said the city would be issuing press releases with details. Another workshop will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, at McGaugh Pool.

SB internet attack update: records requests not affected

If you want to request public records from the city of Seal Beach, go ahead. According to a Thursday, Jan. 23 email from Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos, “the PRA process was not affected by the ransomware attack.”

Seal Beach officials announced that the city had been the victim of a so-called “ransomware attaack” in a Dec. 31 press release, which the Sun published on the front page of the Jan. 2 print edition. The Sun has provided weekly updates since then. However, many residents appear unaware of the attack. The press release said in part:

“The preliminary investigation into this incident revealed that the city’s information technology (IT) service provider was targeted. The attackers were then able to encrypt the city of Seal Beach’s computers with the malware. The city’s IT service provider was able to restore some files and is actively working to return the city’s computer systems to normal.”

According to the FBI’s web page “what we investigate,” on the Cyber Crime tab, “In a ransomware attack, victims—upon seeing an e-mail addressed to them—will open it and may click on an attachment that appears legitimate, such as an invoice or an electronic fax, but that actually contains the malicious ransomware code. Or the e-mail might contain a legitimate-looking website address, but when a victim clicks on it, they are directed to a website that infects their computer with malicious software.

“Users and organizations are generally not aware they have been infected until they can no longer access their data or until they begin to see computer messages advising them of the attack and demands for a ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key.”

OCTA wants a part of city’s real estate on N. Gate Rd.

The Orange County Transit Authority is apparently looking to acquire real estate that belongs to the city of Seal Beach—possibly by eminent domain. To oversimplify, that’s the legal process of compelling the sale of property.

According to City Attorney Craig Steele, the council took no reportable action on the issue during the closed session of the City Council meeting.

The Jan. 27 closed session agenda of the City Council included the following item:

“Conference with Legal Counsel”

“Significant Exposure to Litigation pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(d)(2)

“Notice of appraisal and Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) threat to acquire certain portions of City real property interest by eminent domain, if necessary. 3101 North Gate Road, Seal Beach.”

The Sun at 9:18 a.m., on Monday, Jan. 27, emailed Joel Zlotnik, media relations officer for OCTA to ask, “Why is OCTA seeking to acquire this property?”

At 10:50 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Sun received the following answer from OCTA Communications Specialist Megan Abba: “The item you are referencing is related to the Orange County Transportation Authority’s I-405 Improvement Project. The project includes widening the freeway adjacent to North Gate Road in Seal Beach and requires relocating a utility line that is there now.

“One of the commitments that OCTA made to the communities along the freeway was that the project would be built generally within the existing right-of-way to avoid impacts to homes and businesses. OCTA has worked closely with the cities and residents throughout the development process to design the project in a way that provides the greatest benefit for reducing traffic, while minimizing impacts to the surrounding community.”

Reader questions, city answers

• A Sun reader recently asked about the asbestos pipes that carry the city’s drinking water.

The Sun made a verbal inquiring with the Public Works director. The following week, on Jan. 14, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos wrote:

“Below please find a response regarding your inquiry about the use of asbestos-cement pipes in drinking water systems:

“Asbestos-cement (AC) pipe was used in extensively in potable water distribution systems in the 1950’s and 1960’s throughout the nation particularly in the western states. Here in Seal Beach approximately 74% of the City’s water distribution system consists of AC pipe. The California State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW) and the Federal EPA have an enforceable water quality standards established for asbestos which all water utilities must comply with.

“Historically, the DDW’s water quality data base for the City of Seal Beach has consistently shown our groundwater supply as well as, our pipe distribution system as non-vulnerable to asbestos and thus meeting all DDW water quality standards as established for asbestos water system monitoring.”

The Sun asked at 10:48 a.m., on Jan. 17: “Should the reader be concerned? Does Seal Beach have a capital improvement project in the works to replace the AC pipes? I don’t off the top of my recall the council discussing AC pipes. Do you know if AC pipes will be discussed during the 2020 review of the capital improvement program? If I understand your email, I gather there is no state-mandated reason at this time to engage in such a time-consuming and expensive project. I also get the impression that our drinking water quality meets state standards. Do I understand your email correctly?”

At 2:07 p.m., on the same date, in an email replying to a variety of questions, Gallegos wrote, “Our water system meets all water quality standards established for public water systems that utilize AC pipe as part of their water distribution system. Therefore, based on the on-going water quality monitoring results, the AC pipe within our water system has been deemed safe by the California State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW). As such, there is no DDW mandate to replace the existing AC pipe within our system.”

District Three update

Councilman Michael Varipapa sent the Sun the following information:

“• McGaugh Elementary School visibility enhancements (signing & striping) – in process

“• Bolsa Avenue pavement rehabilitation (construction – late Spring 2020)

“• Adolfo Lopez Slope Stabilization (construction – Spring 2020)

“• FY19/20 Local Paving, which includes Welcome Lane @ 1st Street access improvements (construction – Spring 2020)

“• Accurate Storage Development (private development) – ongoing

“• Upcoming Community Pool outreach meetings in February 2020

“• OCSD Westminster Force Main (along Westminster between SBB & Bolsa Chica) – construction start early Summer 2020 (not City project)

“• LCWA Restoration Project (not City project).”

City manager releases quarterly report of approved contracts

City Manager Jill Ingram will be issuing a quarterly report to the City Council of contracts approved by the city manager, according to Ingram’s Jan. 27 staff report to the City Council.

The city manager has the authority to approve contracts up to $44,970 without approval by the council. According to the staff report, the Municipal Code allows the city manager to delegate spending authority to the heads of the city’s department. The limit for most departments is $15,000, with the exceptions of the Public Works and Finance Department directors. The following is a list of approved contracts from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019, taken from this week’s staff report.

(The first five contracts were approved by Public Works Dept.)

• Agreement date: Oct. 28, 2019, with LPA, Inc, for Lifehard Headquarters Needs Assessment. Amount: $15,000. Expires: Oct. 28, 2020.

• Agreement date: Oct. 31, 2019, with On Point Engineering Contractors for Fifth Street and Ocean Avenue Curb Extension. Amount: $12,099. Complete.

• Agreement date: Nov. 12, 2019, with J & L Constructors, for 210 Central Avenue Sidewalk Repairs. Amount: $10,800. Until work is complete.

• Agreement date: Nov. 21, 2019, with EZ Line Striping, for wheel stop installation at beach parking lots. Amount: $9,495. Until work is complete.

• Agreement date: Dec. 19, 20119, with Pacific Advance Civil Engineering, Inc., for Lampson Well Treatment Analysis-Pilot Project. Amount: $33,000. Expires: June 30, 2020.

• Agreement date: Dec. 23, 2019, with Ortco, Inc., for Playground surfacing–Almond Park (council discretionary project). Amount: $19,000. Expired: Dec. 23, 2019. Approved by Public Works and Recreation departments.