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Neighbors OK with update [CORRECTED]

Coastal Commission's modifications to Downtown Specific Plan are hailed as a 'big win' for residents' group.

June 29, 2011|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

Members of a group challenging where Huntington Beach is taking its downtown area say they are generally happy with changes made to the Downtown Specific Plan Update.

Although city staff and officials are also pleased with the California Coastal Commission's modifications, there were many areas where the city didn't get its way, said HB Neighbors' Vice President Richard Plummer. [This corrects Richard Plummer's first name.]

"We think it's a big win for what we were after," he said. "We thought the whole plan was too big from the beginning."

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The city planned for 400,000 square feet of new commercial developments in its specific plan update, but the commission approved 150,000 square feet.

Huntington Beach will have to go back to the commission for approval of the rest once a cumulative parking analysis, which would address inadequate parking, according to the commisson staff's report, which was approved June 15.

The commission is also requiring the city to find viable parking space to accommodate the traffic the new developments will bring. Huntington Beach will have to go back to the commission once the parking analysis is done, according to the commission staff's report, which was approved June 15.

The council is expected to accept the changes in August or September, said city Senior Planner Jennifer Villasenor. But if that doesn't happen, a new specific plan update would have to be formed, she said.

The Neighbors see the modifications as significant improvements and a benefit to the residents, Plummer said. But a beach curfew is a sticking point for the group.

The city has a 10 p.m. curfew for safety reasons, which the commission views as restricting access to the coastal zone. The city will have to issue a permit to maintain the existing curfew hours, but staff and officials expect the commission to approve it.

The city must get approval of the specific plan from the commission because the downtown area is part of the coastal zone.

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