2nd/PCH Development Opponent Retracts Appeal

By: 
Sean Belk

Although a new retail development project proposed at 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is tentatively scheduled to go before the Long Beach City Council on Oct. 24 for final approval, city staff has confirmed that at least one of two appeals has been retracted.

Warren Blesofsky, a Long Beach resident who represents a group called Long Beach Citizens for Fair Development, Inc., told the Beachcomber that he withdrew his appeal against the Planning Commission’s recent approval of the project since the property is technically outside of the coastal zone and the group wouldn’t have a good legal standing to continue its appeal.

He added that the project, which would replace the aging SeaPort Marina Hotel, conforms to existing zoning standards, including a 35-foot building height requirement, and, therefore, it wouldn’t have a detrimental impact on the Los Cerritos Wetlands as the group had initially determined.

“This property, legislatively, is out of the coastal zone, and so we just didn’t feel like there was a really good legal case,” Blesofsky said. “Our principle concern was the conservation of the wetlands, and, being that it is within the height requirement, we didn’t see that the development would have a detrimental affect on the wetlands biological resource.”

The other opponent, a Los Angeles-based labor group called the Coalition for Responsible Equitable Economic Development (CREED LA) represented by a San Francisco-based law firm, is now the only appellant to the project. City staff confirmed that the appellant has until the day of the City Council’s appeal hearing (tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24) to withdraw the appeal.

During a public hearing on Sept. 7 in which the Long Beach Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, coastal development permits and an environmental impact report (EIR), an attorney representing CREED LA called for more efforts to mitigate air quality and traffic impacts.

In addition, several pro-union speakers affiliated with CREED LA called for the developer to agree to a project labor agreement (PLA), which would ensure union labor in construction. However, the city attorney’s office confirmed that such a condition of approval would not be legal for the city to require on a private development.

The project comes after the site’s longtime owner Raymond Lin and his family-owned company Taki-Sun, Inc. have struggled to gain support to redevelop the 10-acre property over the last two decades. Previous proposals were shot down by the City Council due to concerns about high density, building heights, increased traffic and potential impacts to nearby wetlands.

The new development project, however, requires no variances, comes with no residential or hotel component and conforms to current zoning standards.

Financed through a partnership between the Lin family and El Segundo-based commercial real estate developer CenterCal Properties, the new project has gained support from many residents, including wetlands advocates who have lauded the developer for incorporating bird-safety building measures.

The project entails demolishing the more than 50-year-old SeaPort Marina Hotel sometime next year and replacing it with a “coastal contemporary retail and restaurant destination inspired by the neighboring marina,” according to CenterCal’s listing for the development on its website.

Anchored by a new 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market (relocating from the Marina Shores Shopping Center), the two-level, 245,000-square-foot retail shopping center being called 2ND & PCH is expected to include 95,000 square feet of retail space and 70,000 square feet of restaurants in addition to a new 25,000-square-foot fitness/health club.

During the Planning Commission meeting, city staff said the city is planning various changes to Marina Drive, including adding protected bike lanes and a “road diet,” along with possible changes to PCH, however, such public infrastructure improvements are separate from the private development.  

In addition, some traffic mitigation measures related to nearby intersections are not guaranteed since they would require approvals from outside agencies, including CalTrans. However, the developer promised to report back on progress during the development process.

Meanwhile, Blesofsky said that, while he has retracted his appeal against the retail project, his group plans to continue appeals against other proposals, including: the Southeast Area Specific Plan (SEASP), which updates zoning from 1970s standards and was approved by the City Council on Sept. 19; and a battery storage facility proposed near the wetlands by AES Southland.

sean@beachcomber.news

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