Seal Beach officials looks at planning Main Street’s future

Sixth in a series.

The City Council discussed the future of Main Street during the 2024 Strategic Planning meeting.

The council took no action during the five-hour meeting that set goals for Seal Beach staff to pursue. (The audio of the late January meeting is available on YouTube. Warning: It isn’t always easy to identify the speakers by their voices.)

This was not the first time the council had discussed improving the Main Street area.

In October 2019, for example, the council hired Rabben/Herman to provide “design services” for the Main Street Improvements Program.

See “City government eyes possible improvements to Main Street corridor,” May 6, 2021, at, for another example.

As she went over the list of discussion items, Carol Jacobs of Baker Tilly, the consulting firm hired to lead the meeting, brought up modernizing and community engagement for the Main Street Specific Plan.

“What would it involve?” asked District Five Councilman Nathan Steele.

“How much would it cost? What would it involve? What does it look like to do it?” Steele asked.

Community Development Director Alexa Smittle said to do it right, it would be a large engagement project. “What is important about Main Street” What we like? What do we want it to look like in the future?” Smittle asked.

“Then we start piecing together between the infrastructure and the planning, come up with a document that says: OK, this is where we want to go, this is going to be our guiding principle for the next 20 years,” Smittle said.

District One Council Member Joe Kalmick said the process started right before Covid.

“We had a group that met and started the discussion about concepts and how we could redesign Main Street to retain the kind of look that the community wants, but also upgrade it and be able to do it incrementally so it wouldn’t be $12 million that you had to spend in one do,” Kalmick said.

“I mean there’s things like signage, lighting; if you look at the intersections you know those were done with stamped concrete and the color is only what about that thick I believe, even less, and that’s all cracked and it can’t be repaired,” Kalmick said.

“And it’s starting to look like crap,” Kalmick said.

He said a number of people had commented about the difficulty trying to skateboard, push a stroller or other wheels device when trying to cross one of the three intersections.

“It needs to be upgraded,” Kalmick said.

“Where would this money come?” Steele asked.

Someone said the General Fund.

Though not discussed during the Strategic Planning meeting, the adopted budget for 2023-24 showed $85,000 carried over from the previous fiscal year for the Main Street Improvements Program. The same page showed $223,671 from the Gas Tax Fund also carried over from the 2022-2-23 budget.

Expenditures, according to the budget: $85,000 for study/design and $223,671 for construction, both carried over from the 2022-2023 budget. (See page 272 in the budget; page 273 in the PDF.)

“I told you this was not going to be fun, didn’t I?” asked consultant Jacobs.

“Other questions about this one?” Jacobs asked.

There was a brief discussion about lighting upgrades before the discussion moved to another subject.

The Main Street Improvements Program is still listed among the city’s capital improvements program. “This project will solicit input from the community to generate a Main Street design. Improvements may include a combination of pavement rehabilitation, landscape/hardscape improvements, and outdoor furnishings,” according to the 2023-24 adopted budget.

“A phased-out construction budget will be generated based on the vision plan,” according to the budget.

“To create a unified vision along Main Street in Old Town, while staying true to its original character. This project may also include economic enhance[ment] programs post-COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the budget.

The project cost is listed as “TBD,” apparently meaning “to be determined.”

Project status: Study.