The committee's initial meetings here always began with a
redevelopment presentation after which residents were invited to
share their views. Residents were virtually unanimous in their view
that Southeast Huntington Beach with AES, Orange County Sanitation
District and Ascon/NESI already had more than its share of industrial
uses. They wanted any future development here to relate to tourism.
They also wanted assurance that redevelopment revenues raised here
would be spent here. In all of those meetings, I never once heard a
speaker say that they wanted redevelopment so that it could bring
more industrial uses to the area and thus more revenue into the
coffers of the redevelopment agency.
In subsequent meetings, the Southeast Huntington Beach
Neighborhood Assn. tried unsuccessfully to ensure that the revenues
collected here would not be used to pay off the $212 million
redevelopment debt incurred elsewhere in the city, to get the
industrial zoning changed to a zoning compatible with tourism, and to
get the redevelopment agency to specify their development plans for
the area. It soon became evident that the committee was here to drum
up support for their industrial vision of the area, although they are
very careful never to mention industrial development. An effort to
gain the neighborhood association board's official support failed.
Resident's vision of the committee as an instrument for them and
the city to work together for the good of Southeast Huntington Beach
was just a moonbeam. Despite committee members and city staff's
statement that redevelopment would not happen unless residents wanted
it, the city established a redevelopment area here. The last
committee meeting I attended attracted about a six residents.
In contrast, the recent general meeting of the Southeast
Huntington Beach Neighborhood Association had 150 residents concerned
about their neighborhood in attendance. The priorities of the
neighborhood association are:
* Add sidewalks along Magnolia Street from the flood control to
* Bury the utility lines.
* Purchase the park site at Magnolia Street and Banning Road,
which Edison is in the process of selling.
* Improve Edison Park.
* Enlarge or rebuild Banning Library.
* Landscape the median on Banning Road.
* Maintain the Banning pump station.
* Improve the green areas on the east side of Magnolia at
Many of the very same people returned the following night to
participate in the Department of Toxic Substance Control's meeting on
the Ascon/NESI site. It is a testimony to the pride that people here
have in their neighborhood that they would attend meetings about the
neighborhood on two successive nights in such numbers.
Perhaps some day there will be a way for people interested in
improving their neighborhood to work with the city to create a common
vision, but for now it is only a dream.
* JOHN SCOTT is a Huntington Beach resident. To contribute to
"Sounding Off" e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax us at (714)