The Huntington Beach City Council welcomed a new police chief and said goodbye to a longtime employee Monday.

Mayor Matthew Harper swore in Robert Handy as head of the Huntington Beach Police Department. Handy was joined by his wife and two daughters as well as officers from Surf City, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego.

Handy was formerly the police chief for San Bernardino and spent most of his law enforcement career in Phoenix.

As the department begins a new chapter with Handy at the helm, the city also said farewell to its spokeswoman, Laurie Frymire, who will be retiring at the end of the year and moving to Hawaii in January.

Frymire started working for Huntington Beach in April 2003 and has handled many difficult issues as the city's public information officer. Recently, she has dealt with the controversy surrounding the sign atop Johnny's Saloon as well as the U.S. Open of Surfing disturbance in July.

"There have been many challenges over the last 10 years, but with the help of residents and staff, we have been able to work through them toward a positive end," Frymire wrote in an email. "I am proud to have worked and lived in such a great community."

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City authorizes Pacific City agreements

Also during the meeting Monday, the City Council approved agreements with two development companies that will be working on the Pacific City project.

The council approved developer Crescent Heights to handle the residential portion of the project, near First Street and Pacific Coast Highway. T

he company is planning to build 516 residential units.

The City Council also approved Irvine-based R.D. Olson as the builder of a proposed eight-story hotel at the site.

Development group DJM, the company that co-owns shopping center Bella Terra, has already been working on its plans for the retail section of Pacific City. The group is looking to build about 40 retail stores and 20 restaurants at the site.

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Senior Center update

City staff briefed council members on the status of the long-awaited senior center during a study session Monday.

If all goes according to plan, construction documents would be finished by March and reviewed by the Planning Commission in April.

Once approved by the commission, the city can open the bidding for developers in late April. Staff expects council members to award that contract by August. Construction at the site, on Goldenwest Street across from the Central Library, would follow as soon as the contract is given.

Plans call for the estimated $21.5 million project to be financed mainly through a $15 million, 30-year bond.

The city has set aside $1.5 million in seed money for the center and also hopes to make up the rest through fundraisers and private donations.

Plans could still be quashed depending on the outcome of a lawsuit between the city and the Legal Parks Defense Fund. The citizens group alleges that the park fees that would have come from the Pacific City project are not intended to fund a senior center but rather should go toward preservation of open space.

City Atty. Jennifer McGrath anticipates a resolution of the issue no earlier than fall 2014.