Seal Beach planners OK LA Fitness project

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After hearing approximately two hours of testimony, the Seal Beach Planning Commission this week approved a proposal to build a  37,000-square-foot LA Fitness club.

The vote was 3-2, with Patty Campbell of District Four and Deb Machen of District One casting the dissenting votes.

The fitness club will be in the Shops at Rossmoor (in Seal Beach) behind Sprouts.

The staff report on the project included 47 pages of letters, emails and phone messages about the project—of which three supported the proposal.

Most of the messages came from Rossmoor residents, although a few Seal Beach residents were among the opponents.

The opponents cited the project’s potential impact on parking, traffic congestion and noise as reasons for officials to reject the project.

According to Rossmoor resident Susan Taylor, “The Commission provided virtually no response to the 100 percent public opposition.  This included both factual misstatements in the Environmental Impact Report and the outdated, incomplete Traffic Study.”

According to Taylor, “To my knowledge, not a single commissioner, the developer, LA Fitness representative or the Traffic Study representative live anywhere near this proposed project.  ‘Not in my backyard’ is business as usual for Seal Beach government, and has been for decades.”

District Five Commssioner Marriann Klinger, of Leisure World, cast one of the three votes in favor of the project. Klinger said she felt her job was to find the best iuse of the land. She said she thinks in the long run this is a good use. Klinger said that the people who testified helped make the project better by providing their input.

She also said that when all the city rules have been met, it is hard to simply say no because soeone doesn’t like a project.

Commissioner Campbell, who cast one of the dissenting votes, is a College Park East resident. For Campbell, parking and traffic impacts were the primary concern.

Campbell believes Rossmoor Center Way, which cuts through the Shops at Rossmoor Center from Seal Beach Boulevard to Montecito Road, should be expanded to four lanes to accommodate traffic entering the center from Seal Beach Boulevard.

According to Campbell, traffic sometimes stacks up at that intersection.

According to Jim Basham, the city’s Development Services director, LA Fitness plans to put two westbound lanes on Rossmoor Center Way and add a dedicated right turn lane that will make it easier for drivers to leave the center. Basham said the city would not be paying for the new lanes.

Campbell said the project would reduce the number of available parking spaces in the shopping center from 2,068 to 1,981. According to Campbell, the city code requires the center to have 1,645 spaces.

Campbell said the homeowners associations representing the condominiums in the area should buy 160 of those spaces from the owners of the shopping center.

The spaces are located behind some of the condos on Monetcito Road.

“The owners of the Shops at Rossmoor should realize that these folks in the condominiums and in the community of Rossmoor, are not just their neighbors, but also their customers and need to show good faith as a member of our community,” according to Campbell.

The health club would be built behind the Sprouts market in the Shops at Rossmoor center. The shopping center is located in Seal Beach, on the borders of Rossmoor and Los Alamitos.

According to the staff report, the club would operate from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., Mondays-Thursdays; 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays.

Seal Beach resident Pattie Laird of Montecito Road, a real estate agent, is one of the critics of the project.

“It’s just not well thought out in my opinion,” she said.

Laird has proposed cutting off the flow of traffic within the shopping center at the intersection with Sprouts on one side and Pei Wei restaurant on the other side. At present Rossmoor Center Way cuts through the shopping center at that point.

Traffic on Center Way goes past the Rossmoor Park condominiums located directly behind Pei Wei and opposite the site of the planned LA Fitness club. Laird lives in one of those condominiums.

According to Laird, traffic in the area is already congested with parents trying to access four schools in the neighborhood. She called the access problem “huge.”

According to Laird, adding the health club would add to the traffic problem.

She said it would be better to have the LA Fitness Club near St. Cloud Drive.

Laird also raised concern about the potential for light pollution from lighting that would be necessary for health club parking.