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City Extends Freeze on Housing Projects : Manhattan Beach: Conflicts between residents and nearby businesses lead some council members to call for changes in mixed-use development policy.

February 23, 1995|JAMES BENNING | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Developers thinking about building residences in several areas of Manhattan Beach will have to think again.

The City Council has called a halt to all residential development in three areas of the city because of growing conflicts between residents and businesses.

Bars and restaurants in the city are hopping these days, and residents are fuming. Many who live within a stone's throw of the popular night spots have complained recently of escalating noise, public drunkenness and parking problems.

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So on Tuesday, the City Council voted 4 to 1 to extend an emergency ban on residential development passed earlier this month for the city's downtown business district to include a portion of the city's north end along Highland Avenue and a strip along Manhattan Beach Boulevard between Pacific Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard. City Councilman Steve Napolitano opposed the move.

By halting the residential development, officials say, they hope to slow the number of complaints and buy time to consider changing the way projects are approved to give the city greater control over development. A public hearing is planned for March 21 to consider extending the 45-day ban another 10 months.

An application to build a 32-unit condominium complex on part of a former pottery site on Valley Drive near Manhattan Beach Boulevard has been put on hold as a result of the ban. The developer could not be reached for comment.

While halting the number of residential units in the area, the city is also trying to address problems with local businesses.

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Officials are working with local bar and restaurant owners to resolve conflicts arising from unruly bar patrons and noisy nightclubs, but Councilman Steve Barnes believes more needs to be done.

"We want people to come to Manhattan, but we want them to play by the rules," he said. "I think it's terrific that Manhattan Beach is a desirable place to come and have fun and spend money, but some of the activities we've seen need to be curtailed."

Rather than halt commercial development, the city is reconsidering allowing residences to be built in popular business areas.

As it stands, residences and businesses can be built side by side. But some council members say the city should alter that policy, adding that they would prefer to see residences allowed above businesses on the second or third floors, but not next to them.

"That's what mixed-use was intended to be," said City Councilman Jack Cunningham. "Not a shop here and a bar there and a residence over there."

Napolitano said he believes that conflicts must be addressed but added that he does not believe there is a need for an immediate ban on residential projects. "I'm a bit hard-put to find any urgency needed," he said.

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