Recently Charles Antos asked, “What’s the rush to approve the DWP Project?” (Sun Newspapers, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012.) The LADWP power plant was demolished 45 years ago and the property has been an eyesore ever since. Is 45 years a rush?
The proposed Ocean Place plan has been going through a thorough and deliberative review process on a schedule prescribed in City and State laws. There is no rush.
Mr. Antos says he has no position on the project. However, claiming a project is “being rushed through the process” is a common stalling technique used by those opposed to a development project and who have no substance backing their assertions.
Mr. Antos claims Bay City Partners (BCP) never provided documents to the City. All documents in BCP’s possession, along with those from LADWP, were turned over to the City in July and August, 2010. Antos claims he was denied access to these documents when he was on the City Council. As a sitting councilmember he was (or should have been) aware that in litigation all relevant documents in BCP’s and LADWP’s possession were turned over to the City. A clear-cut request to review these documents would have provided him what he claims he had to go to the City of Los Angeles to obtain. He could have saved himself time and expense had he simply made the direct request.
Mr. Antos’s mistakenly claims that the soil on the property is still contaminated. Who are we to believe; Mr. Antos, who has no qualifications to opine on such matters, or the four nationally known, environmental engineering firms who have participated in the property cleanup and written the reports confirming the facts? Mr. Antos wants to know why additional testing was done as part of the EIR and who determined the depth of the borings. It was done as a precaution. The City required that Dudek and Associates, the firm who advised the City on the ARCO remediation, perform additional testing at depths they felt appropriate. The testing concluded the property had been properly remediated and appropriate mitigation measures have been included in the Draft EIR.
The letter from Mr. Snyder, LADWP Attorney, cited by Mr. Antos, was in the documents submitted to the City by BCP. What Mr. Antos ignores is that the escrow closed three years after that letter, a period of time in which additional environmental review and clearance was performed.
The City Council acted wisely in reaching a settlement agreement with BCP. It provided a mechanism for the City to receive 6.5 acres of oceanfront real estate at a fraction of its market value. It also allowed for the processing and objective review of a development proposal for Ocean Place that includes 48 single family homes on the balance of the property. The City Council did not commit to approving the 48 home project. The project has to stand the test of public review.
The simple fact is that the City can zone the land it wants as public open space; it just has to be prepared to purchase it at fair market value. There is no way the City can obtain the open space it wants on the BCP property without paying for it. The City has two choices; buy all or part of the BCP property it wants as open space at fair market value or approve the 48 lot Ocean Place project and thereby acquire the remaining 6.5 acres of open space at a price it could not otherwise afford.
What’s the rush? After a wait of more than 45 years, that is long enough. Residents should urge the City Council to approve the Ocean Place project and turn the property into a beautiful 48 home development and 6.5 acres of open space that can be used by the community now. Use of this property as open space has already been lost to two generations of Seal Beach residents.
Not approving this project now will mean use of 6.5 acres of open space will be lost to yet another generation.
Edward Selich is the Bay City Partners’ project manager.