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Magnolia Tank Farm Development - Huntington Beach City Meeting

Updated: Nov 7, 2019



Huntington Beach City Hall was packed to the brim last Tuesday night for the bi-monthly Planning Commission meeting. The agenda of the night; to evaluate the Environmental Impact Report in regard to the repurposing of the former tank farm site directly southeast of the Huntington Beach power plant. James Omalley, Vice President of the Orange County based real estate investment firm Shopoff, started the night by making a case for the benefits the multi-layered development would allow the residents of Huntington Beach. Transforming the blighted industrial site into Tank Farm; consisting of a new housing project, a public visitor serving 175-room boutique hotel, a marsh park with a wetlands interpretive program, and Squirrel Park which will serve as a buffer to the site. As Mr. Omalley spoke in front of the commissioners a good portion of the crowd (holding homemade “No Hotel” signs on yellow paper) began to act out. At first it was apparent that the residents didn’t believe in Shopoff’s development pitch. But it soon became obvious that the opposing residents don’t want anything done to the site, period.


Prior to Mr. O’Malley’s slide show speech, Director of Community Development, Ursula Luna-Reynosa, had this to say: “I just want to remind everybody that what is before the planning commission this evening is legislative changes, related to the general plan, the zoning, the specific plan, and the local coastal program, there’s not an actual development application in front of the planning commission this evening. The decision in front of the planning commission is to set the rules in place to establish what appropriate land uses might be through a plan amendment, to set what appropriate zoning district might be through a zoning map and zoning code amendment. And to create the development standards by which future applications would be reviewed under, that’s through the specific plan.”



Shopoff is in the process of getting the land certified under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), but that’s very different than an actual development application. “Is the current general plan and the current zoning for the Magnolia Tank Farm site appropriate? Historically the land was allowed for a utility use, but is that the appropriate land use for today? If not, what is the appropriate land use? How would you take a 29-acre site and transition that appropriately?” No matter what use, this meeting had to happen to figure out just what to do with this site. “There could be five or six public meetings on this development,” Mrs. Luna-Reynosa added.


Huntington Beach residential tract neighboring the Magnolia Tank Farm site.

In short, the 800-page EIR document was deemed sufficient to cover the development of the project proposed by Shopoff Realty Investments. Although there will be significant and unavoidable impacts for Greenhouse Gas Emissions (exceedance of SCAQMD’s draft interim threshold for residential uses), noise pollution (pile driving annoyance during construction of the hotel), and certain traffic. There were 121 EIR comment letters received and the responses to comments and Errata are made available for public view. By the end of the 4-hour meeting, after much debate and speeches from the local residents, the commissioners voted 5-2 on the extensive project Shopoff Realty Investments hopes to bring to life. This is only the first step in a long list of development procedures the developers and the city of Huntington Beach will have going forward. We will keep you up to date as this project carries forward.



Far Left: Local Huntington Beach resident, The Reef Group's Blake Garrett makes his case for the approval of the Shopoff development.

Analysis:

The Planning Commission may recommend certification of the EIR and approval of the GPA, ZMA, LCPA, and DA based on the following:

-EIR adequate, complete, and in compliance with CEQA Guidelines

-Consistent with General Plan and Local Coastline Program

-Compatible with surrounding area

-Transition and buffer between Public (power plant), Open Space (wetlands), and Low Density Residential (homes)

-Conforms to Coastal Aid by prioritizing visitor serving commercial and encouraging public access/recreation opportunities

-Enhances local economy, provide revenue to City, create jobs, and add attainable housing stock

Transformation of a Blighted Industrial Property

-Dilapidated oil storage tanks removed

-Transformation from a blighted industrial property to a new vibrant mixed-use community

-Generator of net revenue to the City

-Includes much needed housing for the citizens of Huntington Beach. A “Community for Community.”

-Provides Park and Open Space Amenities

The Lodge

-215 guest rooms with wetland and ocean views

-Restaurants, retail and accommodations open to the local community

-Wetlands, ecological-theme (designed for eco-tourism)

Magnolia Park (Squirrel Park)

-Privately owned property will be transformed into a passive park

-Maintained by HOA

-Serves as buffer between existing homes and Tank Farm residents

Marsh Park

-Provide views of the Magnolia Marsh and ocean

-Staging area for wetland tours

-Shade structure, passive recreation area and seating available for interpretive programs and decent-led tours

Wetlands Interpretive Program

-The Lodge operator will partner with the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy to provide a Magnolia Marsh Wetlands Interpretive Program for visitors and the community to enjoy

-Organized guided docent-led tours of the wetlands

-Interpretive signage will include educational information

Coastal Trail & Viewpoints

-Elevated public coastal trail that will lead to Marsh Park

-Panoramic views of the Marsh and ocean

Fiscal

-$3.5 Million in annual revenues to the City’s General Fund ($2.5 Million net)

-$108.3 Million over the next 30 years

-300 permanent jobs

Tank Farm Development Agreement Benefits

-Banning Branch Library: $1,000,000 dollars to fund improvements

-Banning Ave Beautification: $400,000 dollars to fund the creation of landscape improvements along Banning Ave

-Edison Park Improvements: $800,000 dollars to fund the reconfiguration of the facilities at Edison Park

-Play Equipment and Park Improvements at Seely Park: $400,000 dollars to fund play equipment and other park improvements

-Road improvements: 1) New roadway, curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements on Magnolia St. and Hamilton Ave. 2) Safe travel from Edison Park and Edison High School to the beach.

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The Reef
Group

117 Main Street, Ste 207

Huntington Beach, CA 92648

(949)375-3609

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