Huntington Beach city leaders are looking at killing a decade old development plan for the Beach Boulevard area, which could delay or possibly kill any new projects in the area.  

The proposal up for discussion at the city council’s Tuesday meeting comes after a new majority was elected – all of whom ran on platforms of fighting state housing initiatives and are now locked into a legal battle with the state over the issue. 

Councilman Casey McKeon, one of the council’s loudest voices opposing the state mandates, said he feels that the report is now worthless given all the development the city has been forced to undertake in a memo to his colleagues

“The State continues to recklessly enact legislation that purportedly requires the City to plan for and build housing that could exceed the City’s planned housing growth,” McKeon wrote. “The informational value of the data provided … is lost and the document obsolete.” 

But some local affordable housing advocates say it’s just an effort to get around the state’s lawsuit and delay more development. 

“It’s the next play in their playbook to try and make sure they don’t have to develop any housing,” said Elizabeth Hansburg, executive director of People for Housing Orange County in an interview. 

“No one is shocked by this.” 

McKeon did not respond to requests for comment on Monday morning. 

City spokesperson Jennifer Carey declined to comment on the potential impacts of the new rules, saying that staff needed to get more information from McKeon on what he’s looking for. 

“After the vote, they should be able to provide clarification and items on all of this,” Carey said.

The scheduled discussion also comes as council members and state leaders are engaged in a legal battle over California’s housing development mandates, with Gov. Gavin Newsom and others arguing the city was just trying to dodge its development responsibilities while city leaders say the mandates destroy local zoning. 

[Read: California’s Battle With Huntington Beach Over Housing Goals Heads To Court]

The lawsuits that will decide the future of housing development in the city have remained in limbo since March, aside from a federal judge denying Huntington Beach’s request for an injunction and saying their chances of winning the case were low. 

Read: Federal Judge Denies Huntington Beach’s Requested Injunction Against State Housing Law

The Beach-Edinger Corridor Specific Plan was approved by the city in 2010, governing development on around 459 acres along Beach Boulevard and the surrounding area – mandating what steps you have to go through to develop on that property. 

The report also included an environmental impact report for development in the area, a key review that’s necessary for many development projects to be approved under state law.

“This Specific Plan implements the broad policies established in the City of Huntington Beach General Plan to guide growth and change along the Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue Corridors,” staff wrote in the plan’s opening pages. 

To review a copy of the plan, click here.   

Hansburg pointed out that without the environmental impact report in the development plan, every new development – possibly even some already established buildings – would have to pay for their own new reports. 

“My understanding is that if this plan is decertified, then all the approvals that were contingent on the mitigation measures that were prescribed by this plan, they become invalid,” Hansburg said. “It calls into question anything that was done under that project.” 

Cesar Covarrubias, executive director of the Kennedy Commission, a nonprofit organization that just won a $3.5 million lawsuit against the city for its failure to follow their last housing plan, echoed similar concerns in an interview. 

“A large part of the site capacities for lower income housing are in that Beach Edinger corridor,” Covarrubias said. “They’re creating even greater uncertainty for development and affordable housing specifically.”

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @NBiesiada.


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