The Shops at Rossmoor are getting a series of major new tenants, and the changes have some in the community worried about the traffic and safety impact to the surrounding neighborhood.
A Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Rite Aid, and an In ‘N Out Burger are already in varying phases of construction at the south end of the shopping center. Additionally, the Shops’ property owners have already submitted plans to the city of Seal Beach to remodel into three separate stores to house a Staples and a PetSmart after the lease expires at the end of the year. None of the remaining projects will require approval from the Seal Beach Planning Commission or City Council, nor do they require input from neighboring Rossmoor residents, many of whom packed a community meeting Tuesday to voice their frustration.
“We basically have no say in what goes on in our backyard. It’s very frustrating,” said Rossmoor resident Brenda Gorman. “Seal Beach is using us as its trashcan basically.”
Gorman, a 40-year resident and realtor in the community, worries about the increase in traffic and crime stemming from the expanded shopping center.
Seal Beach Mayor Pro Tem Gary Miller attended Tuesday’s meeting in Rossmoor and listened to the neighboring community’s concerns.
“It was pretty eye-opening. I feel bad that they perceive Seal Beach that way. They think Seal Beach isn’t sensitive to them,” said Miller. “But they don’t come to (Council meetings) to tell us their concerns. All I can say is come and tell me about it. If you don’t tell me about it, I don’t know it.”
A decade ago, the center was home to small local shops that served the residents nearby. But now the national chains draw customers from surrounding cities such as Hawaiian Gardens, said Gorman. Seal Beach’s decision to add a second left hand turn from Seal Beach Boulevard to St. Cloud Drive will only encourage people to drive into Rossmoor to get to and from the new stores instead of using the main entrance to the Shops at Rossmoor off of Seal Beach Boulevard, added Gorman. With the increase in people coming to the shopping center, it has seen an increase in crime, including two people robbed at gunpoint at the Shops in the last year.
Another concern for the Rossmoor residents are Seal Beach’s plans to rezone the back-end of the property for affordable housing.
The zoning change puts the city in compliance with state law, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that homes will be built on the property, said Seal Beach Director of Development Services Mark Persico. The law requires he city to identify a place for affordable housing, but it doesn’t require that the housing be built, added Persico. To allow for affordable housing, the city doesn’t set an income limit for the tenants or determine the sale price of the units. It simply has to allow for increased density, which amounts to 33 units per acre. That density is actually lower than the existing condos along Montecito Road, added Persico.
The property owner does not oppose the zone change, but “they have no plans to build housing now,” Persico said.
As for the Rossmoor community’s frustration, it could be alleviated some with better communication between Rossmoor community leaders and Seal Beach officials, said Persico. He recommended that Rossmoor officials reach out to Seal Beach to talk about some of their concerns.