Parklets: A Quality of Life or NIMBY Issue?

By: 
Stephen Downing

On December 7, 2021 Brian Cochrane, a board member of the Belmont Shore Residents Association (BSRA) appeared before the City Council to provide resident input into the city plan to once again extend the then-current sunset date of June 30, 2022 for the “temporary parklets” dotting Belmont Shore’s 2nd Street.

Having seen Belmont Shore residents absorb the fallout of what 30-year resident Estela Tejidor described in a recent email to Councilmember Suzie Price as a street that has “unequivocally become an overcrowded party hub of over-served patrons who have multiplied the incident of noise, vermin, vomit on the sidewalks and public health violations like I’ve never seen – Cochrane offered the following statement for the mayor and council to consider: 


 “Good evening, Mayor Garcia and City Council Members. I’d like first to thank Councilwoman Suzie Price and her team for continuing this important dialogue on the parklets issue and for engaging with her constituents in a robust, thoughtful manner.

“I’d like to urge the council tonight to stop viewing — and framing — this issue as an either/or situation. That, in order for businesses to survive, all considerations of residents’ valid and exhaustive concerns must be secondary or, worse, ignored entirely.

“When the council met on this issue in September, you heard from actual residents detailing both personally and on behalf of their neighbors the deep and detrimental impacts of these parklets on their daily quality of life.

“Thirteen speakers addressed the council. All eight residents urged a “no” vote on continuing the program.

“The other five speakers were all business owners, managers or employees. Is it any surprise they urged continuing the program, to their benefit?

“Similarly, with the Public Works surveys, which seemed to game the questions to get a desired outcome.

“What kind of fair survey actively points out that a business owner in the district can fill out two surveys?

“Of course, they and their customers want to keep the parklets running — it benefits them directly.

“But after the vote at that September meeting was concluded, only one owner stuck around to talk with residents and expressed an interest in their needs as neighbors and to suggest he’d help with the quality of life issues resulting from the parklets. Just one owner.

“Since then, we’ve only seen the abuses of these public spaces continue unabated and worsen.

“I’ve walked Second Street again repeatedly since then. On Nov. 20 alone, I photographed vomit on a sidewalk next to a restaurant, so much that a mom with a stroller had to skirt delicately around the stench.

“Near another restaurant, piles of sawdust or absorbent remained after some sort of food supply fell into the street and occupied three car lengths.

“Since the council remains determined to allow the parklets, it’s long overdue to enforce existing laws and rules and to track every issue in a simple and transparent manner.

“City agencies and LBPD must be responsive to noise, traffic, trash and mobility complaints by the residents who encounter these abuses daily.

“This is not a NIMBY issue. It’s not either/or.

“Since these businesses have been granted a lifeline by the city and its residents, it’s essential that they act as good neighbors and accept responsibility for the impact of their moneymaking endeavors that have cost residents so much in their quality of life.

“Councilmembers, please end the parklet program on Second Street and the pier.

“Absent that change, please put some teeth into enforcement of the abuses created by the program.”

Council Extends Program– Problem Continues

Following council discussion, the temporary parklet program was extended once again.

Since that time the noise, public health and public-access problems have exacerbated, according to Cochrane and other BSRA board members.

Cochrane said, ‘Most of our group and other residents have appeared repeatedly at City Council meetings to share our documentation and frustrations with the temporary parklets and lack of oversight and inspection since they rolled out two-plus years ago. Nothing has changed.”

An email chain – along with photographic evidence – submitted by Cochrane to Suzie Price’s office on July 20 recaps a chronology of the most recent tangle of bureaucracy and finger pointing between Price’s office, City Hall, the Belmont Shore Business Association (BSBA) and the Belmont Shore Parking Commission involving multiple locations of vomit and vomit stains on 2nd Street as well as adjacent residential streets that residents have most recently been unable to resolve.

Residents Respond to Price

One unnamed Belmont Shore resident who followed the email chain as the back-and-forth finger pointing progressed between city and private business association entities chose to write her own email to Dede Rossi, the acting director of the BSBA and Price’s office in an attempt to empathize with “my friend and neighbors wearying journey through this process.”  The resident wrote, in part:

“In this instance, no business owner will be held accountable for their patrons’ behavior. No cost will accrue to an individual bar or restaurant for the actual cleanup expense and effort. No policy change will result in impacts being brought to or felt by the businesses responsible.

“Sadly, this is all-too emblematic of how residents’ concerns are frequently unresolved through proffered channels and lack of follow-up, such that the lesson becomes “don’t bother.” 

The resident concluded: “Do you want help? Invite us into the process as active stakeholders and listen. Then act.”

Asked for Better Leadership

In response to Price’s call to the participants in the email chain to “try communicating with one another and figure out where the adjustments need to be made as we move forward,” one resident wrote back stating, in part: 



“We as a community are now engaged in the ridiculous pursuit of trying to ameliorate the very negative symptoms of the parklets — let’s clean the streets more often, let’s build a parking structure, let’s exterminate vermin, let’s have two police officers on the beat on Friday and Saturday nights until 3 a.m., let’s have resident permit parking, let’s have a shuttle bus from Second and PCH to Belmont Shore — while ignoring that it’s the parklets and the unchecked pursuit of profits by bars and restaurants that have created these conditions.”

The resident continued: There are very good reasons why the businesses on Second Street, the Parking Commission and city officials had opposed parklets in the area for over a dozen years. Those concerns have become tangible and pervasive under the temporary parklets program that the city failed to effectively oversee.”

The resident concluded her message to Price: “Rather than try to ameliorate after the fact when a permanent parklets program takes hold and can’t be undone, use your voice and leadership now to halt all parklets in Belmont Shore.”

The full email chain can be read here.

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

Stephen.Beachcomber@Gmail.com

 

 

Category:

Comments

With so many "eateries" on 2nd Street, and the majority of BBA members being from them, they have far too much control! The street is no longer a pleasant or safe place to enjoy a walk for visitors or those of us who live here and play plenty in property taxes but seem to count for nothing.

I am a resident of Belmont Shore and have been a nurse on a Covid unit for the past almost 3 years. It is reported that hospitalizations are up quite a large amount but that is not due to illness from Covid. Pts come in to the ER with other illnesses not related to Covid but they test everyone and they happen to be positive with no symptoms so they must be admitted to our floor. Just because the numbers are reported as being up restaurant owners are fearful of needing to distance again and therefore losing business again. It doesn’t appear that will happen. Worse case scenario that it does the park-lets have become really run down and eyesores besides all the really good other reasons to take them down. In that worse case scenario they can be rebuilt to not look like something from the “ grapes of wrath”.

The parklets make it very difficult to see the oncoming traffic when approaching 2nd Street from one of the side streets. I am surprised there haven't been more traffic accidents as a result of the parklets...or maybe there has and I'm unaware. Regardless it's time for them to be removed. Safety should definitely be a concern.

The parklets make it very difficult to see oncoming traffic on 2nd Street when approaching from a side street. It is time for the parklets to be removed. Safety should be a priority concern.

Parklets make driving in Belmont Shore increasingly dangerous. It is VERY difficult to see oncoming traffic when approaching 2nd Street from a side street if there is a parklet on the corner. It's time the parklets are removed so safety can become a priority again.

Driving along 2nd Street at night is a scary experience with the narrowing of the streets and blind corners due to the parklets. The restaurant owners may like them but the lack of parking and dangerous approach has made it impossible for my family to give our business to any café or shop in the area.

Driving along 2nd Street at night is a scary experience with the narrowing of the streets and blind corners due to the parklets. The restaurant owners may like them but the lack of parking and dangerous approach has made it impossible for my family to give our business to any café or shop in the area.

We supported the parklets only because of the pandemic issues. We tolerated the inconvenience of insufficient parking for the greater good of the survival of the foods businesses and managing the pandemic. The cost however is intolerable for the long term. The parklets are a blight. They look like a 3rd world country. They are dangerous for both pedestrians and drivers. They eliminate disability parking. So many of us cannot go there anymore because of the lack of parking. The residents nearby lose parking access, and worse, they are verbally accosted by drunken visitors who literally pee on their front walls. The Iconix gym hogs the street where people want to park to go to the gym. This is not good for Long Beach. Stop the steal of public access for private gain.

I avoid Second Street now. The parklets have made traffic more dangerous and parking difficult.

We have owned our home in Belmont Shore for 28 years.
We supported the initial Parklet program to support our local businesses.
I’m my opinion, we as a city did a less than stellar job planning the overall program- period.
Hence the extensions exacerbated the issues.
Without serious reform in the areas of safety, a traffic study, a business analysis, feasibility study, adherence to municipal codes, enforcement, an esthetics code or guidelines and a formal written grievance program (not a complaint process), we hesitate to support the extension of parklets in the shore.
This is not a “NOT IN MY BACK YARD “ group of bellyachers throwing tantrums. It is the residents telling our city officials, whom we voted to represent ALL (residents and businesses) that they need to develop a credible sustainable plan before they shoot from the hip.

The parklets were a bad idea from the start. They were a kneejerk reaction to a misunderstood situation that was made worse by false information spread by social media and the mainstream media. The time to eliminate them is overdue.

Parking on 2nd Street has always been a problem. The parklets exacerbate the problem, causing many patrons to avoid the businesses in the area and I am one of those former patrons. Unless the parklets are eliminated, I certainly won't be going back to 2nd Street at all.

We are in absolute agreement; the parklets have ruined Belmont Shore and the surrounding areas. The impact is not only felt in Belmont Shore but all neighborhoods with bar parklets. We live in Belmont Heights, close to a bar, and we have cleaned up human feces, urine, vomit, and trash on a nearly daily basis. The bar patrons are drinking on the sidewalks and in the street taking up half of the block making it impossible to walk on that side of the street. The noise including loud music can be heard for several blocks. All of this continues even after June 30th when the parklet structures were removed.
The parklets should not exist but if they do, the extra space should not be free to the bar/restaurant owners. The parklets have expanded the square footage of the bar/restaurants. At the very least owners should pay fair market value for the space they are given along with the cost of any lost parking revenue.
Parklets for bars is a ridiculous concept which is destroying the city of Long Beach.

This lack of action by the city is reprehensible. Additionally, the city does not seem concerned at all with the fact that ADA guidelines are not being met. The state requires 4 feet of walk zone to meet disability requirements and there are many parts of Second Street where there are Parklets and the restaurants do not meet these requirements. It amazes me that the city is not concerned about being sued when they were just sued a few years ago for lack of sidewalk accessibility.

The continued presence of "temporary" parklets further reduces available parking, causes safety and sanitary problems, generally degrading the quality of life on 2nd St. and in Belmont Shore.

Yup. It's time for the parklets to GO. It's time to listen to the neighbors. It's time to care about the other businesses on 2nd St. It's time to stop thinking only about money. It's time to be fair to the residents. It's time.

I am a business owner on 2nd St. And I was in favor of the parklets at the beginning of the pandemic. Our business was forced to close so we did not need parking for our customers. So, for a temporary move I thought if they could help some other business then I was for it. I was also told that it would be temporary and when we were allowed to re-open we would get our parking back. The restaurants are not the only businesses rebuilding, all of us are rebuilding. Parking is important to all of the businesses as we fight to recover, and especially in parking strapped Belmont Shore. The parklets have served their purpose. Give us our limited parking back.

Most residents were supportive of the parklets when businesses were being unlawfully shut down (but that’s another issue). Anything to keep our businesses and their employees afloat was the feeling.

But that time has passed. The restaurants may not have all the exterior space they’d like, but they have the interior space that they originally bought or leased.

We don’t need government once again picking winners and losers by doling out public property squatters’ rights to favored campaign contributors (isn’t this illegal anyway?). The losers not only include the residents, but the OTHER businesses on 2nd Street, the non-food-and-drink businesses, who don’t have enough parking for their patrons, and whose clients are being chased away by the restaurants’ operations spilling out on to the street.

The losers also include the disabled, who no longer enjoy unrestricted access along 2nd St.

Enough is enough. Time for the parklets to go away for good.

The continual presence of "temporary" parklets further reduces available parking, presents sanitary and safety concerns, and generally degrades the quality of life on 2nd street and surrounding areas in Belmont Shore.

Why would the city choose to lose six dozen Shore parking spaces? Why would the city even consider making any permanent, especially without requiring that business to provide parking elsewhere. I've supported the temporary parklets for two years but people rarely mask up now so they no longer outweigh the negatives. Not all businesses present problems but lack of code enforcement forces a blanket decision.
1. Added liability to the city. They dangerously obscure oncoming traffic on several streets but specifically Pomona and LaVerne, the two primary traffic paths on which commuters drive out of the Shore.
2. They disadvantage other merchants. Some obscure their neighbors' frontage. Some steal parking neighboring businesses need to thrive. Wasn't a bus stop moved in front of another store?
3. They seem unjust--end runs around the city's parking requirements that many neighboring businesses had to provide at daunting cost.
Nancy
Long Beach

I am a business owner on 2nd St. I was in favor of the parklets when the pandemic first hit. Our business was forced to close so I was to the restaurants get some help. We have re-opened and are continuing to rebuild just like every other business and parking is essential to that rebuild. We need our parking back. It's only fair.

I have written to Councilperson Price on numerous occasions about the parklets and the issues and concerns that the people in the community have shared with me. I have submitted written testimony to the city council but with no apparent effect. Parking is a challenge in the shore so I walk to most places I have to go--bank, church, hardware store and some of the local stores. Most of the time, few people are in the parklets, and navigating those that have folks is a challenge--dogs, bicycles and servers. The city has given away public property without any input or advice from the residents in the area. What is even more interesting, there are parklets in front of businesses that do not serve food. How can that be???? What is most interesting is the number of businesses that are closed. Most, if not all, do not serve alcohol, have challenges of limited parking (remember, there was a time when we actually could park on 2nd street). Then there is a safety risk--not only because of people biking or scootering on the sidewalk but with the parklets the loss of sidewalk because of the to-fro movement between the food preparation area and the consuming area, becomes challenging at times. Sunday (7/24/22) I walked with my two grandsons to Vans. We had to navigate a number of different parklets and the dogs and pets that seem to need to visit a bar or restaurant to eat, drink or to protect or comfort their owner. Oh, try to enter Second street from a side street with sight impaired sight lines. Perhaps it would not be as much of a problem but it seems that people do not recognize that a red light requires stopping instead of going through a red light that has been red for a few seconds. But like the parklets that too is "acceptable". Somewhere I recall reading about the desire of our local elected officials to adopt policies that would ensure Long Beach would be a livable, pedestrian and safe community that placed emphasis on creating a livable, family friendly policies. That is not the case in the Shore. Our elected officials are more concerned with business (and that generally means restaurants and bars) than with the interests and concerns of the local residents. Why is community engagement so low? Simple, our elected officials respond to those who fund their election, re-election or their quest for the next office when term limit require their moving on or moving out. Our city councilperson claims that she is unable to respond to the will of the people because of the policies imposed by the other city council members. I guess parklets are here to stay (at least for a while) even when the majority of the members in the community have consistently urged their removal. Unfortunately the phrase "you cannot fight city hall" is alive and well in the 3td District.

It’s time the park lets come down. They have served their purpose. They are a nuisance and need to go.

In 2020, parklets seemed like a good idea to help small businesses during the pandemic. That time has passed. I'm not a Shore resident, but I've stopped frequenting 2nd Street because these unsightly parklets cause traffic problems and health concerns.

Second Street is a major east-west thoroughfare in Long Beach. Navigating onto this street around the parklets is dangerous and has results in accidents that I wish to avoid. Some parklets also make it difficult for vehicles to see pedestrians in crosswalks, creating a safety hazard.

After the parklets had been on 2nd Street for a while, I ventured down the street on foot and was appalled by the poor condition they were in. People allowed their dogs to urinate and defecate on the artificial turf in some where food is served. Trash and fetid water pool around them along the curb. It reminds me of what you might see in a Third World country, not on a trendy street in Belmont Shore.

Overall, the parklets have outlived their usefulness, and residents and 2nd Street visitors are paying the price so the City can accommodate a few businesses who got by without them pre-pandemic.

In 2020, parklets seemed like a good idea to help small businesses during the pandemic. That time has passed. I'm not a Shore resident, but I've stopped frequenting 2nd Street because these unsightly parklets cause traffic problems and health concerns.

Second Street is a major east-west thoroughfare in Long Beach. Navigating onto this street around the parklets is dangerous and has results in accidents that I wish to avoid. Some parklets also make it difficult for vehicles to see pedestrians in crosswalks, creating a safety hazard.

After the parklets had been on 2nd Street for a while, I ventured down the street on foot and was appalled by the poor condition they were in. People allowed their dogs to urinate and defecate on the artificial turf in some where food is served. Trash and fetid water pool around them along the curb. It reminds me of what you might see in a Third World country, not on a trendy street in Belmont Shore.

Overall, the parklets have outlived their usefulness, and residents and 2nd Street visitors are paying the price so the City can accommodate a few businesses who got by without them pre-pandemic.

We have lived in the Shore for 46 years! What has kept us here has been our quality of life. That has eroded exponentially over the past 2 1/2 yrs. due to the numerous reasons elicited in previous letters.

We were totally in favor of the parklets, as a TEMPORARY remedy to the devastating effects of Covid-19. Shore Residents were led to believe, more than once, that this was a temporary solution only, and that parklets would be discontinued June 2022.

We are well past that date & we are becoming more and more disillusioned with broken promises and verbal "run-arounds" by people who should know better and should respect their constituents' wishes.

Get rid of the parklets in Belmont Shore once and for all!

Parking is much too difficult in Belmont Shore. The parklets must go.

The biggest problem with the parklets is that they create blind intersections at almost every cross street, making residents worry about having an accident every time we turn onto 2nd Street. They also create a traffic hazard on an already congested street and leave too little space on sidewalks, especially for those with disabilities. Please get rid of these eyesores so that we can get our beautiful Belmont Shore back. Show us that you actually care about what residents want, instead of just giving us lip service and then doing what you want. It seems like you want to bring in new business and encourage people to move here, but that residents who are already here don’t matter.

Those of us who live alongside 2nd St in Belmont Shore are finding these parklets to be more of a nuisance than a benefit to the community. Not only are they creating even more parking problems in our neighborhoods, they're also extremely difficult to navigate around. My neighbors and I are unable to see cars and cyclists approaching when we're trying to make turns and it's causing a lot of close encounters. The benefit to the businesses along 2nd Street is minor compared to the huge negatives the locals are having to take on because of them.

I understand it might be unreasonable for locals to just say no and not come up with a compromise, so I would like to suggest that IF the parklets have to stay, please have businesses make them shorter so we can see over them while in our vehicles. And for the parking issues, please make street parking by permit only. Locals would probably be happy to apply for parking permits if it means we can actually park in our neighborhood and not be pushed out by visitors from other neighborhoods.

Something has to be done. Enough is enough.

The parklets have brought serious safety issues for residents, pedestrians and the parklets’ diners and staff. Many of the parklets block the views of people turning onto 2nd Street from the residential streets; the blind spot at many times are exacerbated by delivery trucks either parking at the corners or double parking on 2nd because there is now less parking space available in 2nd. It is very hard to see incoming vehicle or cyclists. Parklets borders are too close to the street and there had been 3 incidents that I can recall of cars hitting parklets. Some dining tables next to the restaurant in the sidewalk and the tables on the street barely offers enough room for pedestrians to pass by. On busy days, pedestrians get blocked by customers who choose to stand to chat and two way traffic for pedestrians is impossible. There were a couple of times that a business even added tables right at the edge of sidewalk. Enforcement of regulations is lacking.

Remove ALL temporary parklets NOW, and prohibit ANY permanent parklets in Belmont Shore. In the past, I always took my visiting family and friends for a stroll along Second Street. NO MORE! It is no longer an enjoyable walk, to show off our great neighborhood - it is now an embarrassment, totally because of the parklets. GIVE US OUR NEIGHBORHOOD BACK!

As a homeowner adjacent to 2nd street the Parklets have a continued negative impact. As most residents have expressed; there was a need for Parklets. Now the need is gone and it is time for life to resume for everyone; not just the restaurants. Having witnessed several of the restaurants with side and frontal (2) Parklets, it is obvious that this has turned into a boost for their business. One such restaurant is next to a resident with no buffer in between. The Parklets have not only removed the existing “grandfathered” parking requirements, but have added size of establishments without any additional parking requirements. The parking meter revenue is also lost. The Parklets need to go and let the charm of 2nd street return. The residents need to get some semblance of consideration for a change. Please do not allow Parklets to become permanent!

Extra large and extra long Food and Delivery trucks now routinely block LB Transit Bus Stops (and even 2nd Street traffic lanes!) in order to make their Bar and Restaurant deliveries. Parklets block delivery parking 24/7, (and even block Loading Zones!) so there is no time of day when it's easier for frustrated truck drivers to make their deliveries.
LB Transit Bus Drivers have to stop in the middle of the street to let off passengers, and for the Disabled bus drivers have to continue on trying to find a vacant bus stop! Unconscionable
2nd Street retail stores and business offices have lost vital customer parking and visibility; meter revenue is down, the only winners are bars and restaurants with more seating, and those additional patrons take up free neighborhood and visitor parking.
We hope our Councilperson and the Mayor are reading this and will respond - by ending the 2nd Street and Belmont Pier (ICONIX) takeover of public street parking - i.e. End the Parklets!

At this point, Nothing more than a land grab by the affluent restaurant/bar owners. The locals, the visitors, and the city wide tax payers pay the price of this give away. The parklets need to go away asap.

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