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Orange County Focus

SEAL BEACH : $72,000 Set Aside to Draft Main St. Plan

September 02, 1993|SHELBY GRAD

When city officials in the mid-1970s first set out to draft a blueprint for Main Street's future, the goal was to revive a business district that was struggling for customers against the rise of suburban shopping malls.

Now, some residents claim that the tree-lined row of restaurants, specialty shops and bars might be a little too successful, bringing cars, noise and crowds into the bedroom community.

So Seal Beach is about to embark on a yearlong effort to craft a new Main Street "specific plan" which officials hope will serve as a framework for deciding future zoning, traffic and growth disputes.

"Hopefully, this will give us a good (guide) for the future without causing problems for the commercial or residential area," said Lee Whittenberg, Seal Beach's planning director.

Residents and merchants will have several chances during the process to express their visions for Main Street. Public hearings are scheduled at both the Planning Commission and City Council.

The city has allocated up to $72,000 for the report and is now accepting bids from firms seeking to help draw up the plan, Whittenberg said.

Relations between Main Street merchants and some nearby residents have been strained over the last year as they clashed over proposals to open new businesses and extend hours for restaurants.

These disputes have been complicated because the current Main Street plan is nearly 20 years old and doesn't address many of today's key issues, such as parking and alcohol sales, Whittenberg said.

The new plan will look at what types of land uses are appropriate for the area and examine ways to find more parking spaces.

Aesthetic issues such as stores and the general design and look of the three-block business strip will also be tackled.

Rene Lyons, president of the Seal Beach Business Assn., expressed the hope that the plan will foster a closer working relationship between merchants and the city. But she questioned the wisdom of spending as much as $72,000 on a project.

"Why spend $72,000 for (a report that says) how to spend money we don't already have?" she said.

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