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In Seal Beach, it's charm vs. change

Measure Z pits those wanting to preserve city's throwback look against those for development.

October 21, 2008|Susannah Rosenblatt | Rosenblatt is a Times staff writer.

Seal Beach's roughly 12 square miles, which include the U.S. Naval Weapons Station, are bounded in part by the unincorporated community of Rossmoor, a sliver of the San Gabriel River and the Pacific Ocean. Because the city is all but built out, and planners overhauled the zoning code in the 1970s to lower density, there's generally nowhere to go but up. Seal Beach is following in the footsteps of several beach towns -- including Manhattan Beach, San Clemente, Oceanside and others -- that have worked to limit the scale of oceanfront homes.

Rivals have staked out their territory with warring Measure Z yard signs. The community paper is full of letters on the issue. People in town are talking. Many hope that after election day, they can just go back to being neighbors again.

"There's a fine line between quaint and dumpy," said Bob Griffith, 63, a businessman and pharmacist who owns several properties in town, and who supports three-story building. "Seal Beach is still quaint."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, October 23, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 62 words Type of Material: Correction
Measure Z: A story in Tuesday's California section about Measure Z, a ballot initiative in Seal Beach that would limit homes in the Old Town section of the city to two stories, said the three-story advocacy group Save Our Seal Beach gathered the signatures that placed the issue on the ballot. The Seal Beach City Council put Measure Z on the ballot.

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