CITY HALL — One City Council member stood alone behind a proposed ballot initiative that would put large beachfront projects to a public vote.
Councilmember Kevin McKeown wanted to let the public decide on projects that exceeded zoning along Ocean Avenue.
During the public comment portion of the item, many of those on both sides of development issues complained about the idea. Some, like the local hospitality workers union, opposed the item because they didn’t want to see council’s ability to negotiate community benefits diminished. Others, like resident Taffy Patton, said the plan didn’t do enough to give residents a say on development and would cause developers to build-up adjacent blocks.
Even Councilmember Tony Vazquez — who co-authored the discussion item requesting that city officials come back with language that could be placed on the November ballot about Ocean Avenue development — would not second McKeown’s motion to move forward with the item and so it failed.
Downtown zoning changes
City Council voted unanimously to alter a temporary planning document, making it easier for owners of exercise facilities to open up shop Downtown and softening requirements for Main Street restaurants looking to add small outdoor dining areas.
The Planning Commission is currently in the process of shoring up the new Zoning Ordinance, which will dictate land-uses throughout the city. In the meantime, everyone is subject to the Interim Zoning Ordinance, which is what council amended.
A third request from Main Street businesses, which would allow outdoor merchandise displays, was not recommended by city officials “due to the wide range of aesthetic, operational, and legal issues.”
It seems there was some confusion about the request. Gary Gordon, executive director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association, told council that all they were asking only for permission to place outdoor displays on private property, not public property.
Council asked city planners to come back with this as an option as soon as possible.
No more plan check fee waivers
City Council voted quickly to do away with a fee waiver for building owners who need to get their construction or repair plans checked by city officials.
The waiver was put in place right after the 1994 Northridge earthquake to encourage building owners to make repairs. The waiver stuck around for nearly 20 years.
Earlier this year, council approved a program that would take an inventory of buildings that might not have been repaired following the earthquake. It’s a huge undertaking and “the number of buildings that may require retrofit appears to be substantial,” so city officials think they’ll be dealing with a lot plan checks. To cover that cost, they suggested the waiver be cut.