February 6th In Seal Beach History

On this date in 1937, the Seal Beach city council considered a number of matters in a long session, according to the Santa Ana Register.

The first item considered was a petition with one hundred sixty-eight signers declaring an oil refinery operating at Fifth Street and Coast Highway a public nuisance and asking for the refinery’s removal. The refinery was owned by the California Refining Company and was leased to F. B. Cole Refining, plaintiffs in a $110,000 suit against the city. According to the petition, the refinery had a negative impact of the health and property of nearby residents.

Another issue discussed was the installation of an additional power line from the steam plant operated by the Los Angeles Gas and Electrical Corporation to its new owner, the bureau of water and power (Today’s Department of Water and Power, also known as the DWP). The issue was ultimately tabled, but not before City Attorney B. B. Brown expressed concerns about the impact water outfall from the plant preventing build-up of sands on the west beach.  

Representatives from Los Angeles expressed a willingness to work out a solution to the beach problem with the help of the Los Angeles county flood control district, but that would depend on the new owners. It was also mentioned that the Seal Beach steam plant would soon become a stand-by power plant as soon as the Boulder Dam plant went online, and that would probably diminish the water outfall from the Seal Beach plant.

City Engineer Victor W. Hayes was instructed to remove old poles along East Ocean Avenue that had been abandoned for years by an amusement company. Hayes also reported that, after consulting the Coast Guard, removal of pilings from a collapsed section of the pier must be requested from the war department.

The Pacific Electric Company reported that materials for work on the Twelfth Street grade crossing had been ordered and that the city could  begin paving between the tracks after the track and signal work was complete. Hayes submitted plans and an estimate for the city’s share of the costs for the project.

Finally, a third reading of a “Walkathon” ordinance was made that would clear the way for an event to be held after the rainy season. The ordinance required a deposit of $500.

Walkathons were dancing endurance contests that were both popular and controversial during the Great Depression. Read “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” by Horace McCoy or watch the film to get a flavor of what these events were like.

This ordinance and the event it allowed would cause conflict and controversy in August and September of 1937. Watch this space.

– Michael Dobkins

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