There is a proposed ballot initiative to not only stop the Price Club but any other discount stores or auto mall from locating in our city. This seems incredible as cities in California crawl on their knees and beg for these kinds of clean, sales tax-generating businesses to provide revenue for critical services like police, recreation and public works maintenance and construction.
The ballot initiative also is geared to stop the City Council from further reducing residential building densities on undeveloped hill property in the town. While the council is halting condominium overdevelopment that has left Signal Hill with a glut of unsold, unoccupied, high-density, no-view, poorly constructed stucco boxes, their initiative would bring back runaway density. With whom have the Price Club critics gone to bed? The old-guard Signal Hill political machine hacks who attempted to rape our city for a quick buck?
Let's clarify a few facts. First, the Price Club has not even been approved, and it won't be unless it meets strict architectural and operational standards to protect city residents. To mitigate negative traffic impacts on the adjacent condo project (which shouldn't even be there; it is in a commercial zone), the city would modify the traffic signal at Cherry and Willow by providing left-turn arrows and install new traffic lights at Willow and Junipero (the store location) and Willow and Dawson. Plans are already under way to re-stripe Willow for six traffic lanes instead of the current four so that Willow can handle additional traffic generated by the store.
In addition, and critics never note this, to protect the Willow Ridge condo from noise generated by truck deliveries to the Price Club, deliveries would be restricted to 7 a.m. to early afternoon on weekdays only, with no weekend deliveries whatsoever. Nor will any delivery trucks be allowed to enter the site off Combellack Drive, directly behind the condo project. And the council is exploring keeping all trucks off Junipero Avenue adjacent to the condos. Further, large walls, landscaped berms (earth mounds) and trees will be erected on the east end of the Price Club site to shield the condo from the operation. And none of the condo units will be within 260 feet of the proposed store. Customer traffic will enter the Price Club a block away from the condos, off Dawson Avenue. Finally, and this is important, the proposed site will be planed down by grading so as to lower the entire Price Club building into the ground, further shielding it from the condo project.
Opponents also claim the proposed Price Club will be short on landscaping and that Signal Hill's commercial landscaping requirements are way below standard. The fact is, Signal Hill's commercial landscaping requirements are among the toughest around, stricter than those in Long Beach, Los Angeles or Lakewood.
The store would generate a minimum of $650,000 a year in sales tax to the city, which has a $9-million general fund budget. Signal Hill gets 60% of this operating revenue from sales taxes, but such revenue has been declining recently. Reduce sales taxes by disallowing stores like the Price Club and we reduce services like police, public works maintenance/construction and recreation.
I personally conducted a random, citywide opinion survey of citizen preferences regarding the Price Club. Of 141 residents interviewed, a whopping 137 of them (97%) were all for the Price Club. Critics are simply climbing the wrong issue tree in their blind search for political power.
DAVID J. BELLIS
Councilman, Signal Hill