After roughly 50 years, the city’s last chunk of vacant coastal land could soon be developed into a 32-home waterfront project.
On Monday, the Seal Beach City Council tentatively approved Bay City Partners' plan to develop the former DWP property at First Street and Marina Drive. The council voted 4-1 to approve the environmental analyses on the project’s impact and 5-0 on planning and zoning changes to accommodate the housing.
However, final approval for the controversial project hinges on the developer’s willingness to donate more than 6 acres of land as open space. In a lawsuit settlement between the city and Bay City Partners last year, the city agreed to pay $1.1 million for the land.
But city officials balked at the price Monday night.
“I would not vote to pay $1.1 million for that property, and I want to know if Bay City Partners is really willing and able to donate the open space to Seal Beach,” said City Councilwoman Ellery Deaton. “I don’t want to change the zoning on this property unless I know the citizens of Seal Beach are taken care of.”
If Bay City Partners agrees to donate the land to the city before the next City Council meeting, Seal Beach officials said they would finalize their approval of the housing project, although other hurdles would still remain, including getting approval from the California Coastal Commission and fending off legal challenges from residents who oppose the project.
Brian Kyle, one of five Bay City Partners investors, said he would be happy to meet the city’s terms.
“Givers gain,” said Kyle. “I am happy. I think it’s good for the city. I was born and raised here. I’ll probably end up dying here. I am proud of it.”
However, Kyle said he wasn't wild about a call by City Councilman Gordon Shanks for Bay City to also donate the money to create a park on the donated open space.
“That’s pushing it too far,” he said.
At Monday's meeting, outdoor seating and televisions were set up to accommodate the large crowd, and the meeting dragged into the early morning Tuesday. Many in the crowd left disappointed with the council’s decision. More than 400 people had signed a petition opposing the project. Many accused the council of allowing the city to be fleeced by developers and of betraying the citizens by not insisting that the project include the 70 percent open space called for in the city's planning documents.
MORE DETAILS AND QUOTES FROM THE MEETING TO COME