Seal Beach tells Main Street merchants to clear sidewalks


Courtesy notice says encroachment permit is required for newsracks and benches in Old Town.


By Charles M. Kelly


A city of Seal Beach letter dated Wednesday, July 7 reminded Main Street area merchants that sidewalks are to be kept clear.

The “courtesy notice of sidewalk encroachment/outdoor display laws” was signed by Senior Planner Jerry Olivera, Code Enforcement Officer Darryl Evans and City Engineer Michael Ho.

“Recently, the city of Seal Beach has received a number of complaints and city staff has observed an increasing amount of sandwich board signs, racks of clothing, tables with merchandise tables and chairs and other items for sale on the public sidewalk in the Old Town area,” the letter said.

“Additionally, there are also a number of unpermitted benches along Main Street and Ocean Avenue,” the letter said. Starting Aug. 10, Public Works Department staff will remove benches that are not allowed by an encroachment permit.

Unauthorized benches will be moved to the city yard at 1776 Adolfo Lopez Dr., where they will be stored for 30 days.

“A no fee permit may be obtained through the Public Works Department by submitting a memorial bench application along with a map of the bench location and details, along with proper insurance certificates,” the letter said.

Seth Eaker, president of the Chamber of Commerce, questioned why the city was making a point of going after A-frame signs on Main Street at a time when Seal Beach was facing budget problems and other, more serious issues. (See “Opinion: Are we focused on the right things,” on page 10.)

On Monday, July 12, the Sun Newspapers left voice messages with Olivera Evans and Ho, requesting information about the letter. Director of Development Services Mark Persico phoned the Sun in response to those calls.

Asked why the letter was sent now, Persico said, “One, we have a history of doing that every year at the beginning of summer.”

Persico also said that he heard from his staff that the display of merchandise on Main Street area sidewalks was “worse” this year than in previous years. Persico said Public Works had a list of the permitted benches on Main Street.

However, Director of Public Works Sean Crumby said the list was still being developed. Crumby offered to provide a copy of the list to the Sun at the end of this week.

City Engineer Ho said he was involved because the benches and other items on the sidewalks were on the public right of way. Ho said any item placed on the public right of way must have permit on file with the Public Works Department.

Asked who would decide what was allowed, Ho referred the Sun to Persico.

“The Zoning Ordinance only deals with uses on private property,” Persico said.

He said anything on the public right of way falls under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department.

He said benches, bike racks and newsracks are allowed if you have a permit. Clothes racks and A-frame signs are not permitted, at least not at this time.

Persico said the Main Street Specific Plan doesn’t deal with “stuff” on the sidewalk. Persico said he believed the Main Street Specific Plan would be reviewed by the city of Seal Beach in the fall.


How do you feel about Seal Beach’s sidewalk encroachment enforcement on Main Street?