SB City Council Candidates Question: What do you think about the DWP development proposal?

Gordon Shanks: District 3

Hill, Bridgeport, Heron Pointe

First, let’s remember the history of one of the last open space bluff areas on the California coast, the DWP property.

Thirty years ago the Coastal Conservancy, the action arm of the Coast Commission, funded a study to ascertain the Seal Beach Communities input about this property. After months of meetings, hundreds of residents representing all areas of the community reached consensus and a plan emerged to maximize park space to be funded by minimum development. After some modification, the plan result included six acres of park, and three acres of development, which is the current specific plan. Based upon my considerable knowledge of the history of this property, and my commitment to protect scenic open space, all proposals will receive my close unbiased attention.

Amalia Almasy: District 3:

Hill, Bridgeport, Herron Pointe

First the background: the property is referenced as the DWP Property, simply because prior to it being purchased by the present owners, it was owned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

The property sits on the corner of First Street and Marina down to the Beach, yes, pretty valuable Seal Beach Real Estate.  It is in District 1, however residents who live across the street live in District 3 therefore any decisions or updates to the plan will be important to them and to me.  I will be sure that I am privy to information and listen to the homeowners as this site is developed.

It is important to note that as I answer this question, regarding the Current Proposal, I am only aware of the DWP Specific Plan, which is information available to any citizen-inquiry at the City of Seal Beach Development Services.

On public record, the Specific Plan indicates a land-use of 70/30, meaning that 70% is designated to remain Open Space (i.e. public parks, bike trails. Nature Park, hiking, etc.) the other 30% is designated as a Hotel (maximum 150 rooms) with supporting infustructure such as parking and restaurant(s) and not to exceed 35 feet in height.

If there is “talk” about a proposal which differs from the plan, this information has not been made public nor has it been shared with Council Candidates.

As your city councilwomen, I will be sure to ask the tough questions to ensure that the outcome is beneficial for our Seal Beach and residents, and not only regarding this land, this plan, or thisproposal – but all matters.

Scott Levitt: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

The current proposal for the construction of 43 single family residences is a viable and realistic proposal from the owners of the DWP property if it meets the open space zoning requirements, which on its face, it appears to do.  The property in question, like most developments here in our Town, has been delayed heavily via the governmental process and approvals.  This property in particular, has been subject of much controversy as it encompasses 11+ acres, and thus is an extremely large project for Seal Beach.

The owners of the property are currently in a legal battle with the City over an eminent domain and easement issue.  This conflict is poised to cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The City has offered an unrealistic amount via eminent domain.  In a non-governmental setting, two business owners or private citizens would consider the cost of litigation during a dispute and calculate that cost in comparison with what each party would be willing to offer and accept via a compromise or settlement.  Unfortunately, for the tax payers of the City, several Council Members and the City Attorney again failed to make practical decisions and have cost the tax payers, and furthermore infringed upon the rights of the property owner which are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

The current plan proposed, pending a sufficient EIR and other applications and approvals is good for the City and the owners, and will bring to a close, a costly battle that could have been avoided had the City been willing to work more closely with the property owners, and had the property owners developed the current submittal several years back when the project first got off the ground.

Joe Kalmick: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

The current public policy regarding the development of the DWP is for there to be 70 percent open space and 30 percent as a hotel property.

The property owners’ proposal of 48 homes on standard size lots with the city purchasing the remaining open space would require a zoning change.

Litigation issues aside, we need to review the plan and be certain of where the community stands regarding such a change. Is a hotel viable? How large and how many rooms? Should there be a restaurant?

Developments of this type usually require the developer to provide and maintain the open space amenities.

If it is to be residential do we want to have larger lots and fewer homes to reduce the impact on city services and the number of additional cars?

The visual ambiance would certainly be better if homes were more spread out on the buildable portion.

With a new EIR (Environmental Impact Report) being required, the decision to rezone or not has been postponed for a while.

We should note that this is the last large parcel of land in Old Town, and we should take care to make a thoughtful choice that would benefit the greatest number of Seal Beach residents.

Ellery Deaton: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

My position on the development of the DWP property has been clearly stated for the last 8 years and my voting record as your Planning Commissioner is evidence of my commitment to maintaining 70% open space south of Central Way, 30% development north of Central Way as currently zoned.  All development must be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and compatible with our small, family-oriented beach town.  This is the last significant open space left in Old Town and any development needs to reflect the character of Old Town. Honoring our small town culture is my continuing commitment to the citizens of Seal Beach.

I’ve purposefully put my position in writing in the candidate statement in the voters information booklet, my website ( and in brochures.  That way there is no doubt where I stand on the issue.  It is my understanding that the owners of the property have submitted a proposal.  Since I am a sitting Planning Commissioner, I am not allowed to comment on a pending project prior to public hearings.

As is true with any other project, I will keep an open mind until after considering all the evidence submitted at the public hearing.

Robert Aguilar: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

When I first moved to Seal Beach my wife and I lived at the River Beach town homes directly across the street from the 10 plus acre lot on the corner of 1st Street and Marina.

And I still have the same opinion today as I did back then.

It’s a giant eye sore and something needs to be done there soon. Everyone needs to get their heads out of the sand and do what is best for the people of Seal Beach and the residents who are tired of looking at the big green fence.

The potential for that lot is great and we are stuck in some sort of political standoff that only hurts the voters and tax payers. It’s time for politics to stop and for the community to come together and agree on a final plan.

Before moving to Seal Beach I served on the Community Council and Planning Commission for Tierrasanta, a small residential community in the City of San Diego.

And my entire term was consumed by a development deal very similar to this. Multiple proposals and multiple denials based on back room deals as well as personal agendas.

It’s a battle that has lasted more than 20 years and it’s still going on today.

The DWP fight has already hit 6 years. When elected to the Council I will work to resolve this matter once and for all.

The ugly green fence is our starting line for the annual Seal Beach 10k run.

Is this really what we want visitors to see when they come here? Let me know what you think? Visit my website at or email me at:

I am looking to represent the people of Seal Beach. So I want to hear from you.

Michael Levitt: District 5:

Leisure World

I have met one-on-one with the DWP owner’s representative to try to reach a compromise without the need for expensive litigation.

It appears we’ve failed to reach common ground.

Personally, both the city and the owners have valid points.  They own the property.  The public has been using a tiny portion of that property for decades to access the beach.  The city needs access to utilities running under that road.

The developers want residential housing in a third of the land and leave the rest – as required by the California Coastal Commission – as open space for visitor use.  That would be fine with me. However, I don’t expect that plan to be fine with the Coastal Commission, which wants all space developed within its jurisdiction be “visitor serving”.  The Coastal Commission would prefer a small hotel on that one third, rather than private homes.

And therein lies a problem of economics.  A small hotel would probably not be economically viable for the developers, as opposed to selling individual home sites to individual buyers of residential property.

Personally, I like the plan put forward by the developers.  And I’ve told the other Council members that we should give serious consideration to their plan. As much as possible, it is fair to both the developers and the city. The only real problem I have with their proposal is the price they have placed on some of their property: portions of it are not usable for residency, yet they value it as highly as they do the land that could be used for development.

Again, I don’t see the final decision being up to the city, as much as it would be up to the state.  If we could agree on property values, we could present a unified appeal to the Coastal Commission.

Anne Seifert: District 5:

Leisure World

When I lived in Escondido a developer sought to build condominiums on privately owned open space. The views of towering older pine trees enhanced that neighborhood.  The developer planned to remove these trees.  Neighbors were greatly distraught over the prospect of losing “our” open space trees. Legally, the developer had every right to follow his architect’s plans.

I took a leadership role, organized the neighborhood, and called for a face-to-face meeting with the developer. We neighbors did our homework and presented him with a revised plan preserving our trees, yet allowing him those condos. The result was a better plan and residents withdrew their objections. Through leadership and cooperation the goal was achieved: highest and best land use.  A win-win.

What concerns me about this project is that we not lose sight of what residents have said they want: 70% open space.  There is a plan on the table. But, is it good enough?

Do we now have an opportunity for dialogue between the developer and residents? If any group knows what kind of impact a development is going to have, it is the neighbors.

I support the Coastal Commission specific plan and I would like to see this conversation continue. Why not have a workshop or two with an empty white board and an open mind?

I favor an approach that would keep park space friendly to the ocean with native drought tolerant plants. And development with minimal impact. Let us see what leadership and cooperation can accomplish.