Opinion: Graffiti and air traffic among Old Town concerns

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District 1 Councilwoman Ellery Deaton

The following was excerpted from Seal Beach District 1 City Councilwoman Ellery Deaton’s e-newsletter:

Graffiti

The graffiti vandals have been very busy over the holidays.  After receiving reports of graffiti reappearing around Old Town, Lion Ray Longoria went right out and took care of it.  Thank you, Ray.  Also, Lt. Bob Mullins went right to work in Old Town writing, “Effective immediately, the Seal Beach P.D. will assign the patrol officers in the Old Town area to conduct ‘Directed Patrol Checks’ in the alleys between 1st St. and Seal Beach Blvd. and between Pacific Coast Hwy. and Ocean Ave. These random checks will continue for the coming weeks.”  Thank you, Lt. Mullins.  The Lion’s graffiti removal team can be reached at graffitiremoval@sealbeachlions.com .  Please notify the Lions and the Police Department as soon as you can after seeing any graffiti.  Working together we will keep our town clean.

Air Traffic over Old Town

Thursday, Jan. 5, Congressman Rohrabacher and his staff held a meeting in our Seal Beach City Hall conference room with me, Jill Ingram, our city manager, Mike Levitt, our mayor, Jet Blue, the FAA and Long Beach Airport representatives.  Congressman Rohrabacher was very firm in telling the FAA that we don’t want the planes coming over Old Town when there is the whole Naval Weapon’s Station to fly over. The meeting was quite interesting and resulted in both a short term resolution and a long term, permanent solution.  The short term resolution is to have an LOA (Letter of Agreement) signed by the FAA, The Long Beach Tower, and the airlines in which all agree that when landing, pilots are not to turn inland over Seal Beach, but fly further south to an agreed upon coordinate that will bring them in over the Navy Base.  The longterm solution is to establish a “Charted Visual Approach” for landing at Long Beach which directs the air traffic across the Naval Weapons Station rather than Old Town.  Right now we have a verbal agreement with the FAA, Long Beach, and Jet Blue.  In the next couple of weeks we are expecting a written synopsis of the meeting along with a progress report from the FAA.  I will keep you informed.

Pier Improvements

Numerous comments have been received regarding the unclean condition of the pier.  The issue is that the Regional Water Quality Control Board (state of California) has banned power washing of the pier.  That combined with our pier being designated a “fishing pier”—the city agreed to allow fishing on the pier as a condition of previous grant funding for the decking—makes it difficult, if not impossible, to keep the pier clean. Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Sean Crumby has been giving the issue a lot of thought and will be trying some new ideas.  This winter you will notice work going on at the pier that is designed to help with keeping it clean.  We are continuing to monitor the pier and brainstorm ideas to keep our pier clean, accessible and enjoyable.

Road and Alley Construction

Traffic:  Moving around Seal Beach has been difficult the last few months.  And there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that the construction on Seal Beach Boulevard is now completed and it is a great improvement.

The contractor was easy to work with when they were asked to work around rush hour to help people get in and out of Old Town.  The realignment construction at Lampson and Seal Beach Boulevard is now completed also.  This is a huge safety improvement.

There is still some construction to be done at the North Road at Seal Beach Boulevard which may continue to plague us for the next few weeks.  The bad news is that the Seal Beach Boulevard bridge is scheduled to be redone, adding an additional lane in each direction.  That is going to give us traffic tieups.  Rather than trying to get over the bridge once that construction begins it might be worthwhile to take the 605 and get off at Katella, bypassing the bridge all together.  CalTrans has said that they will try to keep one lane open going each way across the bridge all during the project.  After this project is done, traveling north and south over the bridge should be much improved over what it has been for years.  But it will be trying as we get there.

Alleys:  The contractor has completed all work for two blocks between 12th and 14th streets and is near completion with the work on the alley between 11th and 12th St. Additionally, the project was on hold during the holidays, but will resume on Jan. 9.

Main Street Improvements

The Main Street Lighting improvement project has now been awarded to Fehr and Peers. A kick off meeting was held on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011.  Tentative public meeting dates are to follow in February 2012.  Final plans for the Main Street Tree Planting has been received by our City staff.  It is anticipated that bidding for construction will begin in January 2012. These plans are being incorporated into the Main Street lighting study.

First Street Project

The discussions regarding the rezoning of the property at 1st Street and Ocean Avenue have gone dark for the month of January while the consultant takes all the comments received about the project and formulates the Final EIR, which will be published Friday, Feb. 24.  Other meetings about this project that you may be interested in attending are:  Subdivision Technical Review Committee, Technical Review of Subdivision Map: 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 6; Tree Advisory Board Street Tree Removal and Street Tree Selection: 3 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14; Recreation & Parks Commission Open Space & Parks Issues: 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Free Tax Assistance Program

The Community Services Department is now accepting appointments for Free Tax Assistance. The program offers free tax assistance for taxpayers with low and middle income, with special interests to those 60 years and older. Appointments are going to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 6 in the community room at Fire Station 48. Available appointments can be arranged by calling the Community Services Department during regular business hours.

May 2012 be the best year yet as we work together to improve our community.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your representative.

Ellery Deaton is the Seal Beach City Councilwoman for Old Town and Surfside. E-mail her at SealBeachDistrict1@gmail.com.