Open Letter to Mayor Posey, the City Council and the Planning Commission

We see more and more “commercial” (in name only) development projects in Sunset Beach that simply are a barely disguised strategy to “buy and hold” and turn commercial property into High Density Housing.

Sunset Beach does need to attract *real businesses* to service the needs of local residents, beach-goers from out of town and visitors from out of state. Instead, the City is trying to turn us into Pacific City’s high-density dormitory and rehab center! We are a beach small town town and intend to retain the quality of life that makes us unique in the county and possibly the state!

But the temptation is just too great for “quick-buck” developers, the locusts of our modern era. Businesses in Sunset are usually one or two stories buildings with ample parking on large lots. So it’s easy to “flip” this into residential property that is worth 3 to 4 times more than the current building. Never mind that these lots are zoned “commercial”, the City Planners and most members of the City Council will eargerly oblige

You may tell me: “Well, it’s OK for somebody to make a good return on investment, isn’t it?” Absolutely, it is!
But not by obtaining enough influence with the City Planning Commission (all members in waiting for a seat on the City Council) and the City Council itself, bought and paid for by developer’s campaign contributions>
And this is not all: The added value the developers realize through these lies and fraudulent tactics is actually stolen (there is no other word) from the local residents and the City (hello? Council Members, the City, your responsibility). Businesses provide valuable services to residents and a revenue stream via sales tax that benefits the City, not to mention, businesses create wealth (which is re-invested generally in the City) and jobs! This is why, and for good reason, some areas are zones *for commercial use*, not residential use!

Instead, High-Density Residential Development causes more costs for services the City must provide to an ever-larger number of residents, as well as the added infrastructure (roads, parking, trash service, sewer, etc…) needed to accommodate the population increase. Finally, since businesses become scarce, the area turns into “suburbia” and properties become less attractive. Who wants to drive 5 miles to get Sunday brunch with their family? That’s it, in a nutshell, the greedy developers have actually robbed the added value they pocketed from the residents and the City.

We are asking Mayor Mike Posey, Councilwoman Delgleize, City Planner Kalmick and other City Council Members and HB City Planners some specific questions about their positions and current practices in High Density Development in Huntington Beach and particularly in Sunset Beach:

What are you doing to stop developers from abusive interpretation of zoning and building codes, in particular allowing “de facto” high-density development using “parasitic business” projects (“fake” businesses) intended as placeholders for residential high density development while zoning changes are being sought?

This prevents legitimate businesses, which benefit the community, by providing goods and services (not to mention jobs) and the City, by providing tax revenue, to succeed in areas where they are sorely needed.

Have you visited Peter’s Landing lately? Or Don the Beachcomber’s? They used to be thriving areas servicing the locals and bringing revenue from many visitors from out of town. But no more, honest businesses have been deliberately squeezed out by leases tripled (yes, tripled) overnight! And now the properties sit empty, just waiting to be rezoned for HD residential when there is only one road to service the whole area and it’s already at or above capacity, and no plan to update the required infrastructure!

There are a few other examples of such “sneaky” projects currently going on in Sunset Beach:

  • The Big Daddy “fake” hotel, with 1,700 sqft, 4-bedroom “suites”, complete with full kitchens, one bathroom per room and washer-dryer hookups, no 24/7 desk, in fact no employees at all and “outsourced cleaning services”. In addition, for 40 possible occupants, the “hotel” will provide only 32 parking spaces, many of them “compact”. In English, we call this a “condo complex” or a “luxury rehab center”, both being prohibited by current zoning rules.
  • The Irish Mist “fake” car dealership (see image above), by appointment only, and no showroom, seriously? No front window, a double-car garage in the back and some “fake” parking lot on the side, enough to park 4 cars at the most. You call this a viable business? We see this as a placeholder while the developer lobbies the City for re-zoning so 2 more units can be built on the ground floor.

How can you justify your systematically biased interpretation of the Zoning Codes, Building Codes and Sunset Beach Specific Plan to favor the every whim of developers? It’s positively baffling, actually, it not, we all know why…

More to come, no doubt, we can’t wait to see what marvel of crazy logic someone is going to dream up for Don the Beachcomber’s property, not to mention the ongoing battle with Peter’s Landing “squeezing” businesses out with exorbitant lease increases to push for re-zoning into a high-density residential area.
This is not advocating for rent control at all, but simply asking for elementary decency! Do you expect a business to survive when you triple their lease overnight? Of course not! And after the businesses pack up and leave, the landlords complain that “businesses are leaving so we don’t make enough money”. No shit, Sherlock!

How do you address the fact that every single one of these projects takes away public parking from the community by not providing required parking facilities in their blueprints, also blessed by your Planning Commission all to eager to please the developers, with no regard whatsoever for the impact on the current residents and visitors?

Please explain how the Planning Commission and City Council merely rubber stamp the every request for “variance” from developers, a very troublesome attitude when these projects do not, and never will, benefit the community or the City, but only line private pockets to the detriment of local residents and contribute to long term economic woes for the area. Turning a commercial zone into a residential zone is not a “variance”, it’s a violation!

For answers, we naturally expect a deafening concert of crickets!

But November is coming and we know what to do: VOTE OUT candidates favoring High Density Development and who have no respect for the preservation of the local culture and beauty of our neighborhoods, no respect for our quality of life.

This is not about being against development, or anti-business and this is certainly not a partisan agenda, we don’t care if you are from the right, the left or the center, your job in local politics is to protect the interests and quality of life of local residents, not to sell out our City to greedy developers who have only a “quick buck”, short-term mentality.
This kind of policy has ruined Atlantic City, is currently ruining Santa Monica and is poised to devastate us next.
We have no need for any of this here!

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