After two community meetings on the subject and several public hearings during City Council sessions, a decision on a zone ordinance that would allow bed and breakfasts within a specific area of Old Town was put on hold.
At the council meeting Monday, members of the community and council members debated for nearly four hours before adjourning at 11:59 p.m. as required by city law. Also, as required, the bed-and-breakfast zone ordinance discussion must be the first item discussed at the next council meeting.
About 200 residents were at the City Council meeting, and many said they are opposed to contractor Chris Verhulst's request to move two older homes to a 7th Street location and convert them to bed and breakfasts. In order to accommodate Verhulst, the city drafted an overlay zoning ordinance in January that would allow the bed and breakfasts to operate.
Because some residents felt that the ordinance would open the floodgates for more lodging establishments, a revision to the proposal that keeps such projects within 300 feet of a hotel and no more than 500 feet from the center line of Pacific Coast Highway was added in February.
Even more revisions have been added since, including one allowing only structures built no later than 1925 instead of 1930 as was first proposed. Altogether, there have been 10 revisions to the original proposal, and City Council members spent much of their time Monday debating them. Because Verhulst is asking for variances to existing residential building codes, Councilman Shawn Boyd said he is opposed to the project. Debates over parking regulations and building extensions have also surfaced over the last several months.
"We are willing to consider bed and breakfasts [in Old Town] if the purpose is preservation," Boyd said. "We currently don't allow [variances for building] height and parking, and we shouldn't allow them for the overlay zoning."
Gordon Shanks, a Seal Beach Historical Society member, said that despite opposition by some residents to the bed-and-breakfast concept, he would like to see the two homes preserved. He said that the ideal situation would be for the homes to remain where they are and not include expansion.
Alex Murashko can be reached at (714) 966-5974.