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Downtown feel is already changing

October 31, 2002

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

Last week, the City Council approved a controversial project that

will completely alter the look and feel of Downtown Huntington Beach.

Some say it is high time for that change; others feel allowing The

Strand to be built would be a colossal mistake.

The debate, despite arguments over parking spaces and such, is

primarily over whether or not the 226,500-square-foot project, which

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would bring a hotel and shopping venue with chain stores such as

Victoria's Secret, Express and Abercrombie & Fitch, is a "good fit"

for Downtown.

Certainly change is afoot in Surf City. Small bungalows rented out

by surfers have given way to towering million-dollar homes. But many

of those who oppose The Strand still hope to preserve the charm of

Downtown.

I have viewed this debate of drawing tourism and much needed

revenue vs. preserving the integrity of Surf City in a detached

manner, and have thought it would be convenient to have those shops

Downtown rather than in a stuffy mall.

But there are some things that just don't fit Downtown.

A couple weeks ago I saw the sign -- four letters that made me

groan -- IHOP. There is an International House of Pancakes going in

at the corner of Main Street and Olive Avenue. Ugh.

My friends and I instantly agreed that the big chain had no place

in Downtown Huntington Beach.

Now, I don't have anything against IHOP; it just doesn't belong

there. There may not even be a solid, rational reason. It just seems

wrong. Another breakfast place, fine -- but a mom and pop place like

the Sugar Shack, or at least a place with a California/Surf City feel

like the Shore House down the road.

I realize that the property owner has the right to lease the space

out to whomever they please as long as codes and whatnot are met, but

it is a disastrous addition to Downtown.

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