IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: VERN’S EXPOSÉ ON WHO OK’D HUNTINGTON BEACH’S HI-DENSITY MONSTERS!


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Return to Oct. 6 16:07 when done.

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Why is everybody in Huntington Beach – everybody whose door you knock on – suddenly all up in arms over the town’s “High-Density Development?”  Well, let’s take a look…

The monstrosity that’s got everyone’s hair on fire, the “Elan Apartments” mixed-use development on the southeast corner of Beach and Ellis. Where once was a beautiful Cuban restaurant, a quaint flower-shop stall, a furniture store, and a popular “Shooters” bar conveniently located across the lot from the Howe Hall AA meetingplace, will now be a six-story anthill BUILT RIGHT UP TO THE SIDEWALK.  Approved last year over the objections of all Team HB.

Similar stuff going up right now at Gothard and Edinger, across from Goldenwest College, where the Levitz used to be. Hey, with Levitz gone, how will anyone know what we’re talking about when we refer to Goldenwest as the “UBL” (University Behind Levitz?)

Around the corner from the above (Edinger just east of Gothard)

The first thing to hit our consciousness (and our streets) was the hundreds of new apartments adjacent to Bella Terra. Whatever positive aspects were hoped for with THIS high density project did not materialize, and NO promised mitigation has happened or will happen.

“Hey, what are you guys trying to do out behind Denny’s?” Don’t worry, the giant apartment high-rise they were trying to put there was denied by a slowly-wising-up planning commission.

Southeast corner of Goldenwest and Edinger. Folks don’t realize how far the area covered by the “Beach-Edinger Specific Plan” goes – all the way south to PCH and a mile west to Goldenwest. So, if Toys R Us and Hobby Lobby decided to move or went out of business, this could be your NEXT giant, multi-story anthill of people.

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Other outrages (plastic bags! fireworks! styrofoam! fire pits!) are fading into the background this final month of the campaign, as voters want to know who’ll stop this density juggernaut that’s rendering their beach town unrecognizable. Council challengers Erik Peterson, Lyn Semeta and Hector “HEK” Valdez are making it the centerpiece of their campaigns.

And Team Huntington Beach (councilmembers Joe Shaw and Connie Boardman along with planning commissioner Mark Bixby) – who can actually point to a record of opposing density before it was cool, but are in the unfortunate position of running as incumbents while bad stuff’s been going down – are doubling down on the issue at tonight’s council meeting. Here’s Joe:

Councilwoman Connie Boardman and I have submitted an item for Monday’s council meeting to address the pace of development in Huntington Beach along the Beach and Edinger corridors. The Beach/Edinger Specific plan was approved in March 2010, six months before we were elected in Nov. 2010.

This pace of development has raised the question of whether too many units are coming on-line too soon. Many residents have also expressed concerns about the continued pace of higher density development and the land use compatibility issues.

As many of you know, both Councilwoman Boardman and I have questioned the traffic studies accompanying this plan and we both voted against some of the projects that came before us – most notably the project at Beach/Ellis. In fact, the plan allowed the project at Beach/Adams to be approved without council or planning commission approval.

Here’s a link to the item on Monday’s agenda.

Both Councilwoman Boardman and I have fought against rubber-stamp development, and we approved raising developer fees to make the developers of these high-density projects pay for the impacts of their development. That is why the developers will be trying to defeat us in this election.

Do your homework and don’t believe everything you read on the internet – some people have an agenda and while they decry the high-density development, they are working behind the scenes to elect people who will rubber-stamp just such development.

You know what Joe’s and Connie’s implacable enemies will say (and I’ve explained why they have such powerful well-funded enemies, with their steadfast opposition to Poseidon, and their defense of Bolsa Chica and mobile home owners) – this is a cynical election-eve stunt.  And “Too little, too late!” they’ll say.  And no doubt some urgency does derive from the proximity of Election Day.  But fair people will say that whoever is doing this for whatever reasons, it’s a course of action whose time has come.  AND Joe and Connie do have a record of opposing high-density development (HDD) that they can point to.

And it’s going to be hard for most of the Council to argue with them, especially maverick Republican Dave Sullivan who’s been bitching recently (and falsely) that HDD has been foisted on the town by liberal environmentalists like our two heroes.  The one character who’s bound to oppose them is Mayor Matt Harper, who subscribes to a lazy cartoon version of “property rights.”  In the gleamy Mayor’s world, ANY regulation, restriction, or even public scrutiny of property owners is an INTOLERABLE BURDEN.  And that only applies to the biggest, most powerful property owner in a dispute.  Screw the property rights of surrounding and affected homeowners, screw the property rights of mobile home owners.  It’s perhaps indelicate to point out that these LARGE property owners also happen to be Matt’s biggest donors.

(Despite all this I’m supporting Matt in his assembly run against Keith Curry, simply because of Matt’s positions on toll lanes and fire pits.  Ah, the low bars we set in red districts.)

Wait, you’re changing the subject.
Did liberal environmentalists foist HDD on us, or not?

Nope.  The two parts of that myth are that the Beach-Edinger Specific Plan (2010’s Magna Carta of Surf City Density) was in part a compliant response to Sacramento’s “cap and trade” bill AB32, which is not true;  and that Debbie Cook, an environmentalist who was last in council in 2008 when the plan was first being discussed and formed, was an enthusiastic supporter.   In her mind, it would encourage new HB residents to abandon their cars and embrace public transportation, something that will happen with Americans when it’s pried from their cold dead hands.  Debbie remains a close friend of Team HB, but they don’t agree with her on that.

Don’t believe me?  The Plan was passed in 2010, before Joe and Connie were on council, and it was opposed only by labor Republican Cathy Green (for some reason) and environmentalist Jill Hardy, Team HB’s closest council ally.  It was passed, not by liberals or environmentalists, but by FIVE developer-funded Republicrats:  Don Hansen, Gil Coerper, Joe Carchio, Devin Dwyer, and…

Meet the Curt Pringle of Huntington Beach!

BOHR.

Curt Pringle ran Anaheim for eight years, termed out after two terms.  In retrospect it looks like he spent that eight years laying the groundwork for a fabulously successful second career as lobbyist, cashing in on the connections he’d made as Mayor.  Resisting the urge to return to office when he could have, and obviously allergic to the heightened scrutiny that comes with public office, he has instead focused on stacking the Anaheim council with his own loyalists who can be counted on to regularly, unquestioningly, vote to approve every project that will enrich Curt and his clients.

A lot of the above sounds like it could have been written about former councilman Keith Bohr in Huntington Beach, although he is more developer than lobbyist.  The comparison is also unfair to Keith in at least one regard – Pringle’s projects typically involve bleeding money from the taxpayer and as far as I know Keith’s do not.  But I don’t remember the “liberal Democrat” Bohr once voting against a developer in his eight years on council.  He managed to prevail against an FPPC conflict-of-interest complaint a couple of years ago, but at the very least his business partner Jeff Bergsma has profited handsomely off many of his council votes.

And now he has not only several profitable development schemes in the hopper, but also, sure enough, two developer-friendly candidates that he is putting his considerable weight behind:  Barbara Delgleize and Billy O’Connell.  And I hope that NONE of you who are complaining about High Density Development even DREAM of voting for Barbara or Billy.

Delgleize = Density.

A memorable moment at a recent candidates’ forum saw Barbara Delgleize begin, “I am very passionate about …” and then look down at her notepad to try to remember what she was going to say.  Okay, that was funny, but not really typical.  She seems like a very nice lady and she’s a successful realtor.  And she was the only “challenger” honest enough to admit straightforwardly that she “supports High-Density Development.”  More recently she has modified that to “It doesn’t matter if I support it or not, it’s COMING.”

Well, she’s wrong, it doesn’t have to COME, and we don’t need to lie back and enjoy it.  And she has NOT fared as well with FPPC conflict of interest claims as her patron has. I wish her continued success in real estate, but we DON’T need this lady making policy for our city for the next eight years.  She’s polling very high, between her name recognition after two or three runs, big money backing, and the usual helpfulness of being a woman.  Please don’t vote for her though, unless you love how the Elan Apartments on Beach and Ellis are looking

I don’t want to waste too much time on Billy O’Connell, the Irish-immigrant empty vessel who seems to be Bohr’s second choice.  He seems to tell everyone what he thinks they want to hear, but he is not polling high, so we can afford to be darkly amused by Billy.  Aye, ye have kist the Blarney Stone, my wee chap.

Two Worthy Planning Commissioners: Bixby and Peterson

We get to vote for FOUR council candidates this month.  Of course we don’t HAVE to vote for four.  I’ve recently met two candidates besides Joe and Connie whom I’ve been impressed with, both of them Planning Commissioners – environmentalist and Team HB member Mark Bixby, and honest conservative Erik Peterson.  But I realize that if I sway too many people to vote for Erik, and Barbara does as well as rumored polls predict, I could be helping Erik beat out Mark for fourth place, and I don’t want to do that.  So I will be voting for Team HB, and crossing my fingers that Erik beats Barbara.

Bracing to look at and hear speak, Commissioner Bixby is a MENSA-brained computer programmer who lives next door to the Bolsa Chica wetlands and has spent the last decade or more exploring it with his camera, detailing all its plant and animal species, and doing everything he can to protect it.  A Team HB supporter once fretted to me, “But he has no charisma.”  I shot back, “Are you kidding?  He has that Big Bang Theory Anti-Charisma Charisma.  In spades.  Get with the times!”  He even wins the hearts of those who disagree with him politically, with his obvious love of explaining scientific and legal details, and his unfakeable honesty. 

On High-Density Development, which is after all our topic today:  his position is nuanced.  Usually when politicians’ positions are nuanced it’s because they’re trying to have it both ways and please everybody, but you never get that sense with Mark – his positions are nuanced because he’s both ridiculously intelligent and ridiculously honest.  And on HDD he says he “doesn’t have a problem with density as long as the impacts are mitigated and city services and infrastructure can scale to meet the increased demands,” but he has seen all too often that that is not the case.  Ya know?

Erik meets and talks to my mom and dad, who can’t believe I have a conservative friend. If they only knew. Now they have a Peterson sign in their front yard.

I also met conservative Republican planning commissioner Erik Peterson the other day, and it’s very hard not to be impressed with his honesty as well – but as I said, I’m gonna go easy on my praise of him for now.  I did learn a lot about HDD in our conversation, from a true conservative point of view.  Erik is Mayor Harper’s appointment to Planning Commission, but differs with him on a lot, particularly what I described above as Matt’s “cartoon” version of property rights.  Erik recently got an earful from a roomful of powerful OC Republicans and developers, who chewed him out for his opposition to High Density Development, but he stood his ground.  “Nobody tells me what to do.”  It seems he regrets his Party’s general allegiance to wherever the big money is, much as I frequently feel embarrassed by the Democratic Party.  Erik has a loose, informal, quasi-running-mate relationship with fellow anti-density tea partier Lyn Semeta, who seems similarly decent.

I can’t wrap this story up without a mention of Hector “HEK” Valdez, the bearded tattoo artist who is the only OTHER candidate that staunchly opposes High Density Development.  Low budget and polling near the bottom, he is also the only “challenger” that opposes Poseidon.  EVERYBODY LOVES HEK, and I don’t feel too bad leaving a few of the many candidates out of this story, but I couldn’t forgive myself if I left out HEK!


SO, MY ENDORSEMENTS for HB Council 2014:

1. NOBODY vote for Barbara Delgleize!

2. EVERYONE vote Team HB – Boardman, Shaw, Bixby.

3.  If you are someone who can’t bring yourself to vote for Democrats and/or environmentalists, vote:

Erik Peterson, Lyn Semeta, and Hector Valdez!

Thank you.

 And FINALLY…

Condom Revolution. Practically next door to Dilday Brothers. Just down the street from Phuket Thai. And not far from Mandic Motors. (Sorry, just always wanted to say that…)


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)