New Council member takes seat in Los Alamitos

New Council member Emily Hibard pictured with her family. Courtesy photo

At their last meeting in December, the City of Los Alamitos swore in new council members, said goodbye to outgoing member Mark Chirco and got an earful from frustrated residents of College Park East who made the city aware they will be watching as the Lampson Project percolates through the system.

The city swore in Emily Hibard, who narrowly edged to victory on Nov. 8 for the seat vacated by Chirco. They also swore in Mayor Shelley Hasselbrink, who won the seat without opposition.

Also, the new council reorganized itself, electing Tanya Doby as mayor and Jordan Nefulda as Mayor Pro-tem as they also reassigned various members to external boards and commissions.

It didn’t take long for the new council to hear that they are in for some rough sailing over the next few months as a group of residents from Parkwood in Los Al and College Park East in Seal Beach put the council on notice that they do not want the Lampson Project approved, at least not as it remains with 246 residences.

The city’s planning commission recently encountered opponents of the Lampson project as they changed some zoning in the city to facilitate the state’s new regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) numbers. Many of the same residents appeared at the council meeting, despite the fact there was nothing on the agenda about the controversial project.

“It (The Lampson Project) may meet your RHNA numbers, but burden is being dumped on us,” said Patty S., a resident of College Park East.

She said crushing traffic from nearby Long Beach Airport, the Joint Forces Training Base, a proposed development at Old Ranch and many other factors will contribute to the loss of open spaces; “will bring benefits to your city and it impacts our city.”

“We can’t just look at numbers, we have to look at people’s lives and the safety of residents,” said John Lang, a resident of Parkwood in Los Alamitos.

Another Parkwood resident said government officials are blaming residents. “So it’s our fault,” she said. “This process is all one way; you listen, you say nothing, no transparency, no validation that you actually hear us.”

Larry Nutter, of West Garden Grove, suggested city officials improve the density of the Lampson project. “You don’t have to pack ‘em in so tight,” he said, noting that “one day, you may be sorry you did this to Los Al.”

Dan Brandt said opponents were tired but would never relax in opposition to the project as currently constituted. “We’re tired,” he said, “but we’re going to keep going.”
Most suggested the influx of residents and their automobiles attracted by the 246 residences of the Lampson project would create chaos, confusion, unsafe streets and dangerous traffic conditions.

The opponents promised to come back whenever any decision connected to the development was up for a vote.

While residents from College Park East, directly across from the proposed housing development are already up in arms, the project, per se, has not officially been presented as it will take months getting through the process of approvals at the city level.
In other action, the city approved a 2 percent bonus for City Manager Chet Simmons, for which he is eligible, but which has to be approved by the Council.

Hasselbrink and Chirco both sang the praises of Simmons, saying his pandemic leadership was flawless and his economic development expertise is showing results in the city. “We are extremely fortunate to have him,” said Chirco, who made the motion to approve the bonus.

Editor’s Note: Some names of public speakers may be incorrectly spelled or identified as some do not identify themselves and there is no written record of those who do.