Once again, the Miramar Mobile Home Park & RV Park was the topic of discussion at the last council meeting on April 19. An urgency ordinance to extend the expiration related to regulations for mobile home parks for another 60 days was discussed. Last October 5, 2022, the city council approved an ordinance which enacted an immediate moratorium on evictions and rent increases beyond the state law maximum, for mobile home parks and recreational vehicle parks in the city. The ordinance also included anti-harassment protections for tenants of mobile home parks.

During public comment, a number of Miramar Mobile Home & RV Park residents spoke of their concerns of becoming homeless, and the burdensome requirement of a 48-hour move out every six months. “I just want peace and tranquility, I wouldn’t want anyone else to walk in our shoes not knowing if you are going to have a place to live,” said one resident. Another resident said it’s been four years of struggling with issues at the park. A father played a recorded message of his 10-year-old son asking the council to extend the moratorium, and stop evictions because some of his friends have been evicted. About 22 speakers were in support of the ordinance with one in opposition.

During council comments, Councilmember Jack Fisher said the California Department of Housing and Community Development has not helped the residents, and the state has also failed them. He had hoped the situation could have been solved six months ago. While the property owner has taken major steps to solve the problems by terminating the property manager, who was the biggest source of the harassment, he has yet to hire a replacement. Fisher hopes that help will come through Assemblymember David Alvarez, “who is acutely aware of the situation, he can start righting the wrongs from Sacramento,” Fisher said. Fisher hoped to get this ordinance extended, so that both sides can work together and resolve the issues in 60 days. “My support is with the residents,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez also supports the residents. He said he represents a District 4 where 70% of residents are renters, including himself. “You do not have to worry, I support you 100% and that’s what my responsibility is to represent under-represented individuals,” he said. Mayor Paloma Aguirre questioned the reason for attorneys representing both sides not being present. “My understanding is they are nearing a resolution. They are getting close to coming to an agreement. Sadly this ordinance is going to expire on May 1 and the last thing I want is to have all of you on the street. That is absolutely unacceptable. We don’t want to continue this over and over, but thankfully Assemblymember Alvarez has stepped up and is championing this bill for us in Sacramento — and it’s working its way through committees. I’m hopeful it’s going to be successful and that’s why I’m going to be going to Sacramento, but in the meantime we don’t want anybody falling through the cracks, period,” she said. While the city can’t tell businesses how to operate, Aguirre said the council has a role to play when it comes to problems with housing providers — whether it’s a sewage spill, roach infestation, or a leaky roof. She mentioned how the park had no power for three days and some people who have health conditions, that need electricity to operate machinery for their health issues, were left to deal with it. “That’s what we are talking about when we talk about harassment, basic services should be provided. It is our responsibility as a city to regulate businesses… Let’s buy us some time so we don’t have over 100 people out on the street,” she said. Councilmember Mitch McKay said he was concerned that extending the ordinance for the past six months has not resolved the issue. He said he would like to get some input from the city regarding the temporary ordinance and whether there is a way to have a sunset closure day, so attorneys can move forward with some kind of action. “My concern is we’ll be back in 60 days… we’re not doing them any favors buying time,” he said. McKay was also concerned that attorneys representing both sides were not at the meeting. “I really believe the city has already provided a reasonable and favorable environment for this activity to take place for both the owners and the residents… I don’t see this as something that the city can resolve. I don’t know that 60 days… 90 days…150 days is going to make any difference… I’m wiling to put forward an alternate motion to give 30 days… that puts both parties on notice to get something done now,” he said. A motion to adopt a resolution for 60 days failed 3-1 with a no by McKay. He said he was open to a 30 day extension and made a motion. Aguirre seconded it and said, “I’d rather have 30 days than nothing.” The motion was carried unanimously, Coulcimember Carol Seabury was absent. Aguirre asked City Attorney Jennifer Lyon to contact the attorneys for both parties to let them know they have 30 days left to figure it out.

Buckeye Investments Inc.’s proposal for a mixed use building at 757 Seacoast Drive was discussed. The front of the building includes a ground floor commercial space of approximately 2,700 square feet, and five residential condominium units on the second and third stories each with a roof deck. The rear of the building includes a residential unit on the ground floor with two additional units on the second and third stories, each with a roof deck. Floor to ceiling height is 15 ft., the minimum required by city’s municipal code. The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) asks for an increase in density 1/1,210 sq. ft. vs. 1/1,500 sq. ft., reduction in parking by 25%, and an increase in height of 35 ft. (instead of 30 ft.).

To make way for this project three existing structures will be demolished. All vehicular ingress and ingress is from the alley. The project proposes 11 parking spaces and a bike rack along the northwest portion of the site. The Design Review Board approved the project 3-1 and most of the conditions requested were incorporated. During public comment one speaker had 59 signatures from residents who have an issue with this project. He said the proposed building is 55% more dense than the one on Daisy Avenue, and is worried about problems with parking.

The architect for the project answered some questions. With the elimination of two curb cuts on Seacoast Drive and one on Donax Avenue two more street parking spaces will be available. The developer will offer Transportation Strategies like a bike rack, bus route, transit subsidies for tenants and commercial employees. Developer of the project, David Sweeney with Buckeye Investments, said the problem of parking is much bigger than this proposed building. He said there are three parking lots nearby.

Overall the council was concerned about density, which under the CUP allows eight units versus seven, and reduced parking. Aguirre asked whether the developer could commit to selling or renting the units and not list them as a short term rentals. Sweeney answered that there are currently no firm plans and that the building would be in the short term rental zone. Leyba-Gonzalez said parking is an issue when you live near the beach and lack of parking could motivate people to take alternative modes of transportation like IB Shuffling. “CUPs have been provided in the past by other councils, but this is a new council. Each one of us represents a district, and I represent the whole city… the community is looking to us to champion values and concerns. Our responsibility is to ensure the well being, the safety… overall high quality of life for our community,” said Aguirre. She proposed to have a continuance on this item, so that concerns are looked at thoroughly. A motion for a continuance was approved unanimously.

In other business:

During the council update Aguirre related that she just got back from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce trip to Washington D.C. where she attended many meetings — among them one with the EPA and one with the the Dept. of State Undersecretary. Aguirre asked the undersecretary for the administration to declare a state of emergency for the sewage situation in Imperial Beach. “Our situation is that severe. The only difference between us and a national emergency like a tornado or a tsunami is that our situation is ongoing,” said Aguirre. She said the benefit of declaring a state of emergency is that financial help can be received much faster, especially looking to the future of phase 2 of the expansion of the sewage treatment plant and obtaining the second round of funding. Aguirre has also been asked to travel to Sacramento on April 26 by Alvarez, who is championing a bill specifically for mobile parks in Imperial Beach. “It has made its way through committees, and next committee is the housing committee… he has asked for me to testify in support. The bill will look at eliminating the six month move-out requirement and some other provisions,” she said.

Parks and Recreation Supervisor Courtney Stephens held a presentation on the Senior Center. Stephens explained she has moved from special events coordinator to coordinator of the senior center, including scheduling the facility and adding programs. She works with Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Bullocks for events, grant writing, marketing and communications. She gave an update on what’s new at the Senior Center. The Center’s hours have been expanded and programs have been increased by 70 percent. One of the programs is Serving Seniors, which started last September and has served 4,835 lunches up to March 2023. This program is now also serving breakfast. The facility has been updated with new windows and doors, an ADA ramp and HVAC are coming soon. A new online registration system is in place, which collects and tracks data of residents that attend the program to help with grant opportunities in the future. A team is working on the age friendly program through AARP to help bring in grant funding. The facility is open to residents 50 and older.

Local campaign regulations were discussed. City Manager Tyler Foltz gave the report and said that right now the Imperial Beach regulations comply with state law limit. Local jurisdictions can enact campaign contributions requirements, and an option is forming an Ad Hoc Committee to study the issue. During public comment, a resident asked the council whether a reform is something residents want or is it a “vanity project for a purely political edge for next election cycle?” She suggested doing a survey of residents about the issue. During council discussion McKay said he’d like to see a maximum contribution of $4,900 and a $250 limit that aligns with Senate Bill 1439 which requires elected officials to disqualify themselves and prohibits “pay to play…. I’m not trying to force my will on anybody, although some people may think that,” he said. Leyba-Gonzalez said the council needs “to pursue additional outreach to acquire the pulse of the community.” Seabury said she believes financial campaign reforms are needed. Aguirre volunteered to be part of the Ad Hoc Committee with McKay, and hold workshops to hear comments from residents. She would also like to look at harassment, bullying and destruction of campaign materials, since it causes people to be discouraged from running. A motion to approve the Ad Hoc Committee was carried unanimously.

Leyba-Gonzalez asked for the pocket park at 10th Street and Iris Avenue to be discussed at a future meeting. McKay asked if staff could look at mitigation fees that could be paid by developers for reduced parking in cases of CUP requests, for the city to recoup costs.

The next city council meeting will be held May 3 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 825 Imperial Beach Blvd. For more information log on www.imperilabeachca.gov.

Vol. 39, No. 17 - Thursday, April 27, 2023

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