Ongoing and upcoming local issues: City requests waiver

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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 editor2@sunnews.org.

Seal Beach requests beach closure waiver

Seal Beach has asked for a California Coastal Commission waiver to allow the city to close its beaches to slow the spread of Coronavirus, the cause of COVID-19, according to Seal Beach’s assistant city manger.

So far, as of last week, 60 California beach cities had applied for the waiver of the Coastal Development Permit normally required by the state agency, according to the CCC’s public information officer.

“Yes, the City submitted a waiver to the Coastal Commission,” wrote Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos in an April 8 email.

“Though we have yet to hear back from the Coastal Commission since submitting the letter, we fully expect their support based upon the initial correspondence we received from them. Additionally, our action to close the beaches and pier is consistent with actions taken by a large number of coastal cities, counties in Southern California, as well as the State Parks. We have not been contacted by State Lands with respect to the beach closure,” Gallegos wrote.

About 60 California cities had applied for the waiver as of April 10, according to an email from Noaki Schwartz, public information officer for the Coastal Commission.

As previously reported, on March 23, Seal Beach officials announced that the beaches and parks were closed.

On March 24, the Coastal Commission issued a notice that said, in part, that the executive director of the CCC may waive emergency permit requirements.

According to the Coastal Commission public information officer, the CCC is updating its list of beach access restrictions daily. The nine-page list is too long to reproduce here. To read the list, visit https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/assets/covid-19/Coastal-Zone-Beach-Restrictions.pdf.

In related news, Sheri Pemberton, Chief, External Affairs & Legislative Liaison for the State Lands Commission wrote: “The State Lands Commission has not taken a position on beach closures. The State Lands Commission does not issue permits—it issues leases. The California Coastal Commission issues permits. The State Lands Commission will not require cities that have closed their beaches because of the shelter-in-place order to apply for a lease waiver or modification.”

Comparing and contrasting city COVID-19 responses

• The Seal Beach City Council is taking public comments by email. The cities of Avalon and Paramount are doing the same.

The Seal Beach council is holding at least one urgency session and one informational session a week. The Monday, April 13, meeting was the first “regular” council this month.

To comment

• Seal Beach council members are participating by teleconference, as are members of Los Alamitos, Paramount and other city councils.

Members of the Avalon City Council meet in person, but without the presence of the public.

• The cities of Seal Beach, and Avalon recently passed urgency ordinances that create a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions. Avalon also created a moratorium on residential rent increases.

The city of Paramount has decided at this time to not add a local eviction moratorium to the one issued last month by the governor.

Local Planning Commission scheduled to meet by teleconference April 20

The Seal Beach Planning Commission is scheduled to hold two public hearings on Monday, April 20. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. It will be the first Planning Commission meeting since the state and county imposed Coronavirus-related restrictions were imposed to limit public gatherings.

• Pavilions is requesting an extension of the existing conditional use permit to sell alcohol in the Regency Center located on Pacific Coast Highway.

• Bruce Grossman has applied for a minor use permit “to allow the installation of a two-story manufactured home within Seal Beach Shores,” according to the legal notice announcing the hearing.

Due to the Coronavirus restrictions, comments from the public are being accepted by email only. The public may send comments to the Planning Commission to gharper@sealbeachca.gov.

Questions to public officials

The Sun recently asked local and state officials some questions. Here are some of the answers.

• On April 8, 2020 the Sun asked the California Coastal Commission how many California cities have submitted Coastal Development Permit applications to the Coastal Commission requesting to raise parking fees since 2013? How many in the past two years?

More than two years ago, the city of Seal Beach requested a Coastal Commission permit to increase parking fees. The commmission has not yet made a decision. (As the CCC canceled its April meeting as Coastal Commission staff work out procedures for public meetings, a decision will obviously have to wait.)

The Sun will update readers when the CCC answers the question.

• Is Seal Beach looking at a curfew?

As of Wednesday, April 8, “The City is not discussing a curfew,” according to an email from Seal Beach Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos.

In Avalon, on Catalina Island, that City Council recently approved an urgency ordinance that included a 10 p.m. curfew for adults and an 8 p.m. curfew from anyone less than 21 years old.

However, city officials left enforcement to the discretion of the Avalon city manager and the commander of the Sheriff’s Station.

Council OKs cost of updated traffic impact study guidelines

The City Council this week authorized City Manager Jill Ingram to approve expenses up to $35,897 to Iteris, Inc., to update the city’s traffic impact study guidelines.

This was a Consent Calendar item. Consent Calendar items are approved collectively, without discussion by the council unless pulled for separate consideration.

Nothing was pulled from this week’s Consent Calendar.

The calendar was approved unanimously, by roll call vote, as the council meeting was held without the presence of the public (or the council members, for that matter, who participated by teleconference).

State law (Senate Bill 743) recently changed the way cities are required to assess traffic impacts, according to the staff report prepared by Deputy Public Works Director/City Engineer Iris Lee. The report said cities such as Seal Beach had until July 1 to update their traffic study guidelines.

“The most consequential change in the analysis is the shift from congestion impacts closest to the project site to [vehicle miles traveled] impacts from trips made the farthest from the project site,” according to the report.

Iteris, Inc., has an on-call agreement with Seal Beach. “Iteris submitted a proposal to the City under the Agreement to update the City’s Traffic Impact Study Guidelines that are currently being used to measure traffic impacts to reflect the SB-743 requirements,” according to the staff report.

“The recommended expenditure authorization under Iteris’ Agreement is in a not-to-exceed amount of $35,897,” according to the report.