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July 2023 Update

On July 13, 2023, the California Coastal Commission held a hearing on whether or not to rezone the 29-acre Magnolia Tank Farm site in Huntington Beach from public to residential, commercial, park, and conservation use. The City of Huntington Beach made this proposal to revise its Local Coastal Plan (LCP) to accommodate just this one development. This site is unfit for residential development for numerous reasons. Some primary concerns include flooding from storms and sea level rise, and its proximity to the ASCON toxic waste dump.

After over six hours of presentations from Coastal Commission staff, project supporters, and our coalition of environmental advocates, the Commissioners decided to delay their decision as they didn’t feel they had sufficient information. The project, as it stood, did not supply enough flooding protection and provided inconsistent promises about affordable housing.

We are glad that the Commissioners did not vote to approve the LCP amendment; however, their delay means that this risky project will be reviewed again in the near future. Rezoning this site away from public use and building housing there eliminates the ability to use the site for projects which would decrease flood risk and adapt to sea level rise. Our team will continue tracking this issue and fighting to protect our coast from risky development proposals like these.

It is unclear when this project will be reconsidered by the Coastal Commission other than there is a legal requirement for the Commission to make a decision by February 2024.

Read more about the Magnolia Tank Farm project below.

About the Project

The Magnolia Tank Farm is a proposed residential and commercial development project for Huntington Beach that would severely impact the safety of humans, wildlife, and the environment. While Orange County desperately needs solutions to solve our housing crisis, the fragility of this site makes it unsuitable for any new development. 

The proposed site, located on Magnolia St. near the Huntington Beach Wetlands, is subject to significant coastal hazards, including sea level rise and tsunamis, along with being located on an earthquake fault in a flood zone next to the Ascon toxic landfill, a State of California Superfund site.

In the past, our team of water quality experts has been able to work with developers to improve their water quality management plans and environmental impact. However, the numerous risks associated with this location make it an unfixable project. The best and only proper use for this land would be to restore it to a wetland.

Development of the site would result in risk to the residents of the site and cause irreparable harm to the residents of adjacent neighborhoods. Specifically, our concerns are:

  1. This low-lying area is subject to flooding, sea level rise, and tsunamis.
    The site is in an area subject to flooding which will only get worse with rising seas. Raising the height of the site to prevent flooding onsite will divert floodwaters into adjacent neighborhoods and will do nothing to prevent tsunami damage. Watch this video for a simulation of how sea level rise would affect the area.
  2. The South Branch of the Newport-Inglewood Fault lies underneath the site.
    The Newport-Inglewood Fault can generate earthquakes as large as 7.5 in magnitude. Studies show the site is subject to soil liquefaction and spreading during an earthquake.
  3. The Ascon Toxic Waste Dump, a California Superfund site, is adjacent to the property.
    The Ascon site is loaded with toxins and a potential threat to the neighborhood. The remediation of the site is ongoing, and Ascon will be a concern for many years to come.

As proposed, the project is not consistent with the current City of Huntington Beach Local Coastal Program (LCP). Unfortunately, the City of Huntington Beach is currently seeking certification from the California Coastal Commission for a ‘project specific’ amendment to their LCP so the project can proceed.

We are urging the Coastal Commission not to certify the proposed changes to the Huntington Beach Local Coastal Program and to protect the local residents, wildlife, and ecosystem from the adverse impacts of this project.