Seal Beach Council Candidates: What is your position on the city limiting homes to two stories in Old Town?

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Gordon Shanks: District 3:

Hill, Bridgeport, Herron Pointe

First, the City Council did not make the decision to limit building height in Old Town.  That decision was arrived at by a vote of the entire city.  Eighty percent of the residents agreed to limit the height in the Old Town area.

Personally, I supported and agreed that the limitation was a good idea and would slow down the overbuilding on the small lots in Old Town.  The City Council agreed and had the question put to the entire city and the final vote tally showed a desire to maintain the present mix in Old Town.

Old Town has primarily twenty-five foot wide lots with a mix of one story and two story homes.  To add three story homes would have changed the look and character of Old Town.  I like Old Town as it is and do not wish to see any major changes in its character.

Safe, Solvent, and Small is my desire for old Town and Seal Beach.

Scott Levitt: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

The three-story controversy ended with the Measure Z ballot measure.  It is no longer a topic for debate or discussion, no matter how many times candidates print it in their campaign literature.  There are dozens and dozens of three story structures in Old Town.  Decades ago, the Council changed the set-backs for three stories, and only allowed such to be built on the rear 50% of lots that were 37.5’ wide or wider.  That was the code, plain and simple.

Four years ago, the Planning Chairperson and the District 1 Councilman, decided they didn’t want any more three story structures built, and began a quest of eliminating three-stories in Old Town.  Unfortunately, they did so without any legal support or precedence, which cost the City thousands of dollars in legal fees and ultimately over $100,000 in unnecessary consultant fees.  This is the fundamental problem with individuals, who once in office, feel they can rule the City by personal agenda, ignoring statutes and legal due process.

For example, in voting against a three-story project in 2006, the Planning Chairperson, deceptively misquoted the General Plan, saying that a three-story building didn’t fit in with the “small-town character” described in the Plan, what the Chairperson failed to do was finish the sentence of the General Plan cited, which reads, “Planning will now focus on retaining small-town character, stimulating new economic growth, revitalizing older areas, assuring public safety, finding new uses for underutilized land…” The project in question, met these requirements, but more importantly, the property was zoned for three stories, and thus was entitled by right.

Electing those who ignore the laws at the cost of the taxpayer’s pocketbook and rights erodes the concept of America, and tremendously harms our great Town.  www.levittforseal.com.

Joe Kalmick: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

The issue of limiting all future construction in Old Town to a height limit of 25 feet, or two stories, was one of the most contentious to face our community in quite a while.  It amplified the conflict between the right of a property owner to the use of their land and the greater good of the community.

How do we reconcile those already allowed to have a third story or multiple units on a single lot voting to restrict their neighbors’ ability to do the same? In Old Town our homes are practically on top of each other, and a height differential of even a single story can have an effect on the one next door or across the alley, depending on the orientation of the sun, location of windows and so forth. If the overriding concern is about being good neighbors, then we must take the position of having the least impact on adjacent properties.  Therefore the vote by overwhelming majority to limit the height of homes in Old Town to 25 feet was the right decision, keeping in mind that one can still build a large family home within the new code’s limitations.

Had I been on the City Council and was faced with making such a decision, this would have been the thought process I would have used to reach my conclusion. We are fortunate that the number of properties left that will be impacted by Measure Z is relatively small, as we must still be sensitive to how they will be affected.

Ellery Deaton: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

I, Ellery Deaton, am the only    District 1 candidate who supported two stories for Old Town. After listening to residents petition me as their Planning Commissioner for relief from the growing trend of 3 story homes, I did the homework.  I visited three story homes, two story homes, and our small cottages; talked with our residents on both sides of the issue, and carefully weighed the arguments.  It was clear that our community wanted two stories for Old Town!

The position of the current City Council on two stories for Old Town was to ask the residents to vote on what they wanted. It was no surprise to me that 72.4% of the people voted in favor of two stories for Old Town.

I applaud the current Council for asking their constituents to vote on this issue and fully support the decision of the voters.  I believe a representative’s job is to listen to what our community wants and then implement it.

My only desire for Old Town/Surfside is to see that our quality of life is second to none by honoring the character of our unique, eclectic, and charming Old Town and Surfside Colony.

Please vote for Ellery Deaton for proven leadership in keeping our seaside charm.  For more information see ElectEllery.com.

Robert Aguilar: District 1:

Old Town and Surfside Colony

This week’s question required a lot of thought on my part. I’ve spoken to several people in the Old Town community who speak fondly of the small town appeal of our coastal areas in Seal Beach.

A majority of those same people are in favor of height limitations in Old Town. A small handful, however, feel that they should be afforded the right to expand their property as much as they wish.

As a Republican that believes in small government and freedom to make our own choices, I tend to have some sympathy for those individuals. But when it comes to Seal Beach and Old Town specifically, I have to agree with the decision of the council. I believe this decision reflects the will of the people who voted them into office and that is exactly the purpose of government, to represent the people.

As a member of this community I am in favor of the two story limits. I enjoy the coastal breezes and the small patch of ocean I can see from my bedroom window, if I lean out really far and there isn’t any fog disrupting my view.

Increasing the value of this neighborhood will not come from building bigger and taller homes that tower over the others and take up two property lots.  It’s not going to come from listing vacant lots for seven figures either. It will come from treasuring what we already have and ensuring that we stay safe and live in a clean community, so that people will enjoy visiting Seal Beach and may want to buy homes and raise families here. It will come from supporting our local businesses and schools, and from working together as a community to do what is best for each other as neighbors. Visit me at http://RobertAguilarJr.com.

Amalia Almasy: District 3:

Hill, Bridgeport, Herron Pointe

This is a great question for me, last week I walked most of District 3 (including the Hill and the Shores) becoming more familiar with homes that are in original condition, those that have been remodeled and those that have been rebuilt from the slab up and adding a second story addition. I walked a lot and talked to homeowner with an opinion on each side.

I believe that for a small city like Seal Beach with its long tradition of being a small, quaint beach town, I believe it best to uphold the decision to limit any residential construction within the City to two stories. The topic relating to construction build up is in Seal Beach is one where some residents are passionate about leaving the original build of a home alone and untouched citing many personal reasons why they do not favor a two story improvement. If all architectural requirements are met and no blight is implied it is a tough agreement for those that oppose a build to two levels. Others believe it should be their choice to build up and improve as they wish. I believe that positive progression is necessary here in Seal Beach and have found many homes on the Hill in District 3 improved to two levels. Many of which are lovely, and increase the quality of life to the homeowners (families) and neighboring residents. Thus improving the property values in the City of Seal Beach and allowing Seal Beach to retain a long tradition of families.

I will work to ensure Seal Beach moves forward and progresses positively, while maintaining the Charm that we all love and that brought us here.

Vote for Amalia Almasy, District 3 on Nov. 2.

Anne Seifert: District 5:

Leisure World

Bravo!  Brava!…we District 5 voters took a stand to limit new construction to two stories: 80% of us voted for two-stories. (We certainly wouldn’t want three-stories here in LW either!)  What is charming about Seal Beach is that it has a “small town” flavor. You can see the sky above.  Most structures are not towering overhead. The two-story height does not fight with our beachscape.

What I have noticed about homes with three stories is that there is a great temptation for that third story to become an income unit, non-permitted in many cases. And without adequate garage space, need I say more: congestion, parking, added traffic.

Why might other homeowners want a third story?  Perhaps the desire for more space, a grander view— higher, bigger, but in my estimation not necessarily better. Get that higher bigger home somewhere else, not in Old Town. Each district in Seal Beach has its own personality.  Old Town is where the land is scarce and homes occupy almost every square inch; at two stories many homes provide about 2,500 square feet. That’s a lot of living space for your little beach cottage. Old town has that hard to describe quality called “charm”.

Another reason why the two-story limit has merit is that the demographic trend is towards ‘downsizing’.  Increasing square footage may not always add property value. Our future buyers are likely to have a “less is more” philosophy.  My own largest home was four stories, 4,000 square feet, a monument. My smallest home (for nearly 3 years), a 41 foot boat in Marina del Rey.  I can vouch that the amount of space one actually needs for a sustainable and happy life is very little. Stay with two stories or less. You’ll be happy you did.

Michael Levitt: District 5:

Leisure World

The three-story controversy ended with the Measure Z ballot measure.  It is no longer a topic for debate or discussion, no matter how many times candidates print it in their campaign literature.  There are dozens and dozens of three story structures in Old Town.  Decades ago, the Council changed the set-backs for three stories, and only allowed such to be built on the rear 50% of lots that were 37.5’ wide or wider.  That was the code, plain and simple.

Four years ago, the Planning Chairperson and the District 1 Councilman, decided they didn’t want any more three story structures built, and began a quest of eliminating three-stories in Old Town.  Unfortunately, they did so without any legal support or precedence, which cost the City thousands of dollars in legal fees and ultimately over $100,000 in unnecessary consultant fees.  This is the fundamental problem with individuals, who once in office, feel they can rule the City by personal agenda, ignoring statutes and legal due process.

For example, in voting against a three-story project in 2006, the Planning Chairperson, deceptively misquoted the General Plan, saying that a three-story building didn’t fit in with the “small-town character” described in the Plan, what the Chairperson failed to do was finish the sentence of the General Plan cited, which reads, “Planning will now focus on retaining small-town character, stimulating new economic growth, revitalizing older areas, assuring public safety, finding new uses for underutilized land…” The project in question, met these requirements, but more importantly, the property was zoned for three stories, and thus was entitled by right.

Electing those who ignore the laws at the cost of the taxpayer’s pocketbook and rights erodes the concept of America, and tremendously harms our great Town.  www.levittforseal.com

Seal Beach Council Candidates: What is your position on the city limiting homes to two stories in Old Town?