Letters to the editor :: Save Our Seal Beach
Save Our Seal Beach
Letters to the editor


A Campaign Based on Fear

Dear Mike Buhbe,

I often wonder how it must feel to live life in fear. You see I don't know because I make decisions (and choose to live my life) based on facts driven by due diligence which is derived from a place other than fear. Perhaps your wondering what it is that I am referring to?

Well Mike, I'm referring to your two-story campaign against our property rights in Old Town Seal Beach. I'm sure you remember the discussion we had that day in the alley of the residence my family owns at 216 2nd street in Seal Beach. The talk we had about your home as well as mine occupying lots currently zoned for homes that could be built with a third story. Mike, both you and I do share something in common... neither of us as plans to build GIANT 3 STORY HOMES on our lots.

The difference between us is that I do not see, know of or fear what others with the same lots may do. The rapid increase of plans currently in the building department for new construction with a third story simply does not exist. You and I both know this is the truth. But truth will not influence people to join your cause, only fear will. I'm sad that you see this as the only vehicle to employ other residents to your cause. Our economy, our markets and our community is experiencing a generational struggle that has not been seen in decades and here you are offering more fear as a solution.

Mike the real solution is to to offer truth, facts and a campaign based on integrity and promise to all those you have a civic and moral duty to. Regardless of the outcome of Measure Z, I know that when I lay my head on my pillow at night... I can sleep soundly knowing that I acted from a place of honesty, caring and most importantly faith.

With regards,

Nat Ferguson


What Is A No Vote on Measure Z?

I encourage Seal Beach residents to Vote No on Measure Z.  A “No” vote is a vote FOR:

NO to Devaluing Our Homes
NO to Tax and Fee Hikes
NO to Regulating Down Real Estate Prices
NO to Insider Politics and Improper Privileges

Seal Beach needs to break free from a controlling little special interest crowd in Old Town.  We have a great city that used to be noted for its diversity and individualism in our residents and neighborhoods, but now cares little for anything except the “special” status of the beachfront. Seal Beach families and small business don’t want to be pushed toward a mini-Irvine of over-regulation and bureaucratic nonsense – like Ellery Deaton’s fantasy that the three story Ocean Avenue homes are “two stories with a basement.”  If that’s two and a basement, I’ll just settle for one of those!

We clearly suffer from double-standards, double-speak, lying, corruption, cronyism and outright illegality at City Hall.  Measure Z is nothing more than a “payoff” to political supporters of the sitting City Council, whose incompetence and unethical practices should NOT be rewarded by diminishing YOUR pocket book and YOUR property values.

For far too long, former City Hall occupants have enjoyed special privileges and favors from the City in developing THEIR properties, by exploiting their relationships with City government.  Now with Measure Z, they want to increase their privileges.  The disparity of treatment and selective enforcement which favor city “Insiders” and provide them property and financial advantages denied other city residents needs to end.  Vote NO on Z.

David Carroll
Old Town Seal Beach


Vote No on Measure Z

Reduction in the size of a house you can build lowers the value of the property as a whole. People pay more for more square footage in a home just as they pay more for larger lots. They pay more for lots with larger potential square footage. How much would you pay for a lot where you were not allowed to build anything compared to the same lot where you are allowed to build a home? 

With any house on a property you pay, in addition to the potential use value of the lot, the cost of the materials and labor for the existing house. But part of the total value of the property is still in the right to build or rebuild to its full potential. Reducing potential footage reduces the value of the property. This is a real economic loss not just to the few who would ever build that larger house but also to all who have smaller homes on these lots. Without ever building the additional space allowable, that value is used by many as equity in their property for medical emergencies, as reverse mortgages to see them and their loved ones through increasingly longer and more financially difficult senior years, to help pay college expenses for our children or grandchildren, or to keep in repair or improve the existing home.

To take hundreds of thousands of equity out of properties with Measure Z hurts our neighbors with larger-lot and devalues smaller lots as well. City revenues from property taxes will diminish. The City will not spend less, they will increase other taxes and fees on all of Seal Beach to compensate. They will continue their relentless spending on “yuppification” on the back of hardworking residents.

Vote NO on Measure Z.

Carolyn P. Alexander
Old Town Seal Beach


More Than a Two Story City

Measure Z CHANGES Seal Beach, by CHANGING heights limits on homeowners.  Some would have you believe that only Old Town has 3 stories. Try telling that to the 22% of the rest of Seal Beach residents living in 3 and 4 story buildings. In a district by district housing analysis, residents in three and four story buildings are:

District One (Old Town and Surfside) 22% in 3 or 4 story housing; 6% of whom are “exempted” because they’re on the “Gold Coast” or Surfside, leaving Measure Z to affect 16% of Old Town.

District Two (Leisure World, College Park West, Rossmoor Center) 31% of residents in 3 and 4 story buildings, with over half in four story buildings.

District Three (the Hill, the Coves, the Bridgeport area, First Street) 25% of residents in 3 story buildings.

District Four (College Park East, the Centex homes, Sunrise Living) 12% of residents in 3 story buildings.

District Five (Leisure World) has no buildings over 2 stories.

For the total of Seal Beach, 17% of our residents live in 3 and 4 story buildings, with that rate edging up to 22% if you exempt Leisure World.

Even proponents admit only about 30 Old Town lots are likely over time to build third stories on the back half of their property. So Measure Z would affect about one tenth of one percent of the homes of Seal Beach.  That’s six tenths of one percent of Old Town. With approximately 90 streets in Old Town, this works out to be one building every three streets.

An “overdevelopment crisis”—NOT!

And NOT worth risking tax and fee increases, citywide reduced property values, an even-worsened real estate market, and 30 spot-zoning lawsuits against the much-sued City of Seal Beach. Vote common sense, Vote fairness, Vote NO on Measure Z.

Mary Lewis
Old Town Seal Beach


Pay to Play

Beware! If you believe America is founded on the principle of private ownership, you’ll be disgusted at the “two-story activism” undermining Seal Beach homeowners’ and renters’ rights. I ran against Antos 7 years ago and lost because they wrote lies.  I own a home & two businesses in town.  Council members pander to special interests and it’s Recall time. Charles Antos’ supporters already have maxed-out properties, and want a monopoly raise in property values for their own three-story buildings.  They are confused – they are thinking there’s a public right to private property for free.

Reasonable people understand you must pay for what you take. Two-story activists frantic to change the zoning code need to pay as individuals for rights to a neighboring property.  Compelled to dictate to your neighbors what to do with their home?  Buy their property. Two-story busybodies claim developers in black helicopters are flying around Seal Beach seeking historic buildings to flatten; they say DWP owners want to construct high-rises; that there’s a plot to run off all the renters and pave over the Greenbelt: They’re lying, again.

The truth?  Three-stories actively affect few (maybe 50) properties scattered across 80 city blocks.   Most wider lots won’t become three-story homes because they a) are combined lots with far more value splitting into regular (two-story) lots or b) already are apartments, with far more value as income-producing rental properties (which the Antos elite also hate). The storyline about Seal Beach turning into Huntington or Newport Beach is completely false. The existing code prohibits full-lot third-stories and that’s why Old Town looks like it does.

Under the existing code, three-stories only in the wide-lot back-half ensures the street appeal of homes will stay consistent .  The law in America says you have to pay to play.

Beverly Pearce
Old Town Seal Beach


The Perils of Measure Z

Measure Z is a downzoning action similar to codes Seal Beach instituted in the mid-1970’s. Those codes in Seal Beach caused a reverse growth in population, a substantial reduction in housing units, and a comparatively undervalued real estate market over the long term.

The Seal Beach population in 1970 was 24,441; in 2000 Seal Beach’s population decreased to 24,157. This is 284 less citizens. Even with the additions of the Centex homes (behind Target) and the Heron Pointe homes (beside the police station) built after the 2000 census was taken, the US Census Bureau projects a Seal Beach population of 24,144 for July 1, 2007, still 297 less people than 1970 before the mid-1970’s downzoning codes went into effect and a net population decrease since 2000. In the meantime all other Orange County beach towns have enjoyed modest growth. Seal Beach businesses need at least stable and not declining population to succeed.

The number of rental units in Seal Beach, and this means primarily the Old Town area, was hit the hardest. With passage of state statues that mandate Housing Elements for California cities’ General Plans, the California Department of Finance began studying the changes in the housing market in California. Their first study for the years 1990 to 2000 shows that Seal Beach lost 1,237 rental units in these ten years alone. The downzoning by Measure Z would continue this precipitous decline in rental housing in Old Town.

In these dire financial times Seal Beach cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the 1970’s. VOTE NO ON MEASURE Z. Send a message to city government that we want to keep Seal Beach a town of residential diversity enjoying economic vitality and stability.

Eldon Alexander
Old Town Seal Beach


Why Downzoning is Eminent Domain Abuse

Councilmen Antos' and Shanks' downzoning are eminent domain abuse. In the English feudal system, the King (His Eminence) owned all the land (the domain). The King granted limited land rights to those pledging fealty (allegiance) to him.

The nobility could inherit, not the land, but land use in exchange for allegiance to the King. Thus eminent domain–government owning and distributing land–kept all the people subjugated to the goverment.

Seal Beach City Hall, led by Charles Antos, Gordon Shanks, Lee Whittenberg, and Quinn Barrow contend the people only have the rights government gives them.

This is feudalism. Our City Hall acts as though they can dictate any use of land, because our property is not owned by private citizens but by government.

Another historical eminent domain abuse was the quartering of armies on distributed properties. The King's troops ravaged the lands–eating noblemen out of house and home–cutting deeply into use and wealth of property as an onerous tax.

Our present-day versions of the these regulatory takings are zoning abuses–downsizing being Seal Beach's preferred form.

Beginning with the Magna Carta, the English common law adopted a system of private property. Thus, William Blackstone could write, "A man's home is his castle, and neither King nor army, may enter upon another's property without permission."

The American colonists rejected feudalism altogether.

Our Declaration of Independence and US Constitution enshrine the principle that government has only those rights given it by the people.

Eminent domain was a feudal abuse the American Founders cast off. Constitutional private property protections against government "takings" and household quartering of armies are explicit; the 3rd, 5th and 14th Amendments buttress anti-eminent domain rights.

The eminent domain abuses in the property takings by Antos and Shanks are crystal clear.

Seal Beach citizens must remove these City Hall politicians.

Dr. Charles M. Parker,
retired professor
political science, history and economics


It Depends On Your Point Of View, Literally

Accompanying an October 9th Orange County Register article, in which Councilman Charles Antos defended the new ordinance restricting Seal Beach building height limits, was a staged, deceptive photograph.

The photograph (below, left), which was taken from the alley, shows Councilman Antos posed in front of a three story building at 329 10th Street in Seal Beach. The desired reader's impression is that such a huge building shouldn't be allowed in our lovely town.

Antos' alley view of 3
The real, accurate story is quite different, and we should know because we own the property four doors down from this building.

This two story apartment building was purchased by a local, long-term Seal Beach resident. At the time of the purchase the building needed substantial cosmetic repairs. The new owner undertook the repairs and, in the process and after much haggling with city hall, added a third story over the garage area, as allowed by city code.

The repairs and remodeling were done tastefully and thoroughly and fit in with the Spanish architecture of the building. The appearance of 10th Street was substantially improved.

As for the third story addition, from the middle of the street, where most tourists and residents would view the building, the third story is nearly undetectable (see photograph below). And, what little you can see is in perfect harmony with the look of the building and the small town "feel" of Seal Beach.

Street view of 329 10th Street
We don't need more restrictive property rights "takings" by our city council, such as Ordinance 1553. Seal Beach's small town appearance can be maintained without trampling on the property rights of its residents. Will it be perfect and no poorly designed additions will sneak thru, probably not. But the alternative is an elitist, busy-body enclave that isn't the Seal Beach that we've lived in for 34 years.

Don't trust the politicians, drive by 329 10th Street and see for yourself.

If Charles Antos would get out of the alley ways and on to our streets, maybe we wouldn't have so many cracked, potholed streets.

Please sign the petition to let the citizens of Seal Beach vote on Ordinance 1553.

Richard and Jean Barbazette
34 year residents of Seal Beach

A Cautionary Tale

Lost in the debate about the 3 story vs. 2 story building heights in "Old Town" is the fact that this is just the latest in a long-running series of city government actions eroding property rights in Seal Beach.

In the early 1970's, my wife and I purchased a triplex, situated on a lot-and-a-half in "Old Town." At the time it was our understanding that, if we wanted to put a new structure on the lot, we would have been allowed to build a replacement triplex, duplex or single family home.

In that decade the city council, through down-zoning and parking restrictions, restricted our ability to replace our triplex to a duplex or single family home. We didn't complain or pay much attention.

Later, through even more restrictive regulation, we were again restricted to replacing our triplex with a single family home. We didn't complain or pay much attention.

Now, the council has voted in a rare, rushed Sunday morning session to further limit what we can build on our property. We are now paying attention and complaining.

If you think this is only our problem, think again. If you have a one-story or small house in Seal Beach then you'll be the next target for property rights erosion by the city council, if history is any guide. It is already happening in San Clemente where the city is now disallowing the building of two stories in the Shorecliffs neighborhood.

Those who are pushing this restrictive agenda are changing and adversely altering the character of Seal Beach. More unreasonable restrictions make housing prices even more outrageous, thereby limiting the number of young families and singles who are able to enjoy this lovely city. We don't want to live in a restrictive, elitist, wealthy enclave like Malibu; we like the Seal Beach that we've lived in since 1972.

Don't let them change your city any further. Protect your rights by demanding that Ordinance 1553 be put to a vote of the people.

Richard and Jean Barbazette
34 year residents of Seal Beach

A backroom political deal in Old Town has taken $129 million in residential property values from your neighbors and they did it by lying, cheating and violating state and municipal law.

This small political machine, and ITS special interest masters, claim families fighting for their right to make home improvements are a "special interest" laughable!

Anti-family, anti-business politicians on the Planning Commission and City Council say downzoning is "good for Seal Beach" just because they say so! The next property they downzone might be yours!

Here are the facts about Downzoning Ordinances precisely like Seal Beach's, according to the highly regarded Pacific Research Institute and the Orange County Register:

  • Private property rights ARE being violated

  • This regulatory taking of private property use and value IS a common form of abusive eminent domain strategy by city government

  • The people of Old Town & Seal Beach HAVE NOT SPOKEN, but when they do, they can vote on this ordinance in the next regular Citywide election at NO extra City expense

  • YOUR signature on Save Our Seal Beach's petition for a fair Referendum process will bring this to a vote, City Hall lies will NOT stand; and this irrevocably tainted and illegal result will NOT become municipal law. Don't let the people and City suffer feckless DOWNZONING. Let's VOTE!

Enough is enough! It is time for openness and equity in Seal Beach community decision making. Let the people decide, with a free and fair vote. No more closed-door political deals!

To many, many of our neighbors already, SaveOurSealBeach says: THANK YOU FOR SIGNING THE PETITION!

Mary Lewis, Old Town

Last week, the OC Register reported on the "Down Zoning" taking place in Seal Beach and missed an important point. They wrote, Councilman Antos helped "rush through the ban in hopes of dodging.... Prop. 90, which is primarily touted for protecting property owners from cities abusing the use of eminent domain to take land." Obviously, they were not aware of the cities failure to provide due process in this effort to "rush" and "dodge." Maybe it wasn't important enough, but it got the attention of some people that have organized legal action and started the referendum process.

The restriction in question affects the rights of property owners in Seal Beach with a lot and a half or more and takes away their right to build a third story on the back half of the lot. Our city officials have succumbed to the pressures of office and have moved quickly to resolution. The result not only strips the rights of hundreds of landowners in Seal Beach, but it does so prior to election day for fear of new legislation appearing on the statewide ballot that would require cities to compensate land owners when Down Zoning.

This discord holds claim to a fundamental difference in perspective that may lie at the core of the issue facing Seal Beach today.

In the early 20th Century, a foreign ideology began seeping into American political thought. Drawing its inspiration from the totalitarian principles of Marx and Hegel, it reasoned that all rights are conferred by government, and that the purpose of government was not to defend individual freedoms, but to shape and mold and improve society in whatever manner appealed to those in power.

This is the absolute antithesis of American founding principles and the antithesis of liberty itself. And as we begin the 21st Century, we can see how far that authoritarian ideology has now worked its way into modern American political thought. Tom McClintock

There are champions among our city officials that will stand for individual freedoms. Unfortunately, for ALL of us in Seal Beach, they are out numbered 3 to 2.

Michael Doss
Seal Beach, CA

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