Increased Building Height Plan Concerns Residents

By: 
Steve Propes

By Steve Propes

The Fifth District is not known for high rise buildings, yet there are several hotels, one major multi-story office park, a Boeing building as well as the windowless Frontier Communications office on Lew Davis Drive, adjacent to Long Beach City College, which also houses several three story buildings. There are also multi-story buildings in the Third and Fourth Districts. However, the lion’s share of properties in the Fourth and Fifth are either one or two story residential or commercial.

But that situation might soon change if a proposal called the Land Use Element of the city’s General Plan is approved by the city council. Sent back for more study by the Planning Commission on August 17, the commission directed the Development Services Department to engage in “public outreach” to those areas newly impacted by bringing what’s described as “downtown style density” to East Long Beach. Among other proposals are rezoning certain church properties and existing retail areas with high density residential and some retail, but without parking.

The plan’s genesis is the requirement by the State of California that each municipality submit a general planning update every ten years. Many of these plans are well overdue, mostly because of the economic crash of 2008, which brought some municipalities to the edge or the reality of bankruptcy, making long term planning difficult. In the case of Long Beach, according to a city source, the most recent Long Beach plan was prepared and submitted in 1989, making the new plan 18 years late.

In fact, Development Services has been working on a updated plan for years, but east side residents became aware of its proposals only a short time ago. “Over the last 18 months, 30 meetings have been held,” said Development Services Communications Officer  Kevin Lee. “This has been going on for about a decade” with over 100 meetings conducted.

Specific sites to be considered for increased building height mentioned in the plan include the Fourth District’s include the Los Altos Center North at Bellflower and Stearns, which includes Trader Joe’s, Big Lots and Target and Los Altos Center South, which includes Sears, L.A. Fitness and Lazy Acres, where multiple five story condos or apartments would be allowed.

Across Bellflower Blvd, at the Hof’s Hut section of the Los Altos Center South, multiple four-story apartments and condos would be allowed. Also, at the Circle Center at the Traffic Circle, home to Circle Porsche and Audi dealerships, five story apartments and/or condos would be allowed.

Three locations in the Fifth District are also mentioned. The Los Altos Gateway, Kmart, Lowes and various fast food outlets and store fronts might be replaced by multiple five story apartment and/or condos. At several Spring and Palo Verde, at the Spring Farms, Grocery Outlet, the Grounds Café, John’s Burgers and the currently vacated Haggen’s site, multiple three to for story residential mixed with retail would be allowed. Finally, at the Long Beach Town Center on Carson Street near the 605, multiple six story condos and apartments would be allowed.

The reaction on NextDoor Lakewood Village has ranged from concern to outright condemnation. Critics of the plan cite motivations other than the state requirement, that the city is in search of a larger tax base and that campaign contributors are often from building and allied fields, which would profit from increased construction. Critics also cite a personnel-challenged police department and fractured infrastructure, including needed street and sidewalk repairs, parking and even a proliferation of diseased and dying trees.

Lee dismissed the idea of political contributions leading to certain decisions. “This amounts to an economic opportunity in the building businesses. About 74 percent of residents go outside of Long Beach for employment. And no matter what we do, there’s going to be increased traffic.”

Describing why certain areas were chosen, Lee said, “The Fourth and Fifth Districts are areas that could handle it,” meaning there is less density than other areas. “The population is going up, we can’t control that. This plan goes to 2040, taking into account what the populations might be. If we are gong to have additional housing, how are we to accomplish this?”

Lee acknowledged similar plans were also proposed for the Wrigley District. “Residents in that district had concerns over similar subjects, that is why the planning commission recommended additional outreach. Residents have concerns and want to be heard.”

Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw said, “it was announced at council meeting a month or so ago.” He expects “parking impacts across my district.”

In a statement to constituents, Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo said, “I do not support, nor does the general plan allow for, high density, large-scale multi-family housing structures adjacent to our single-family housing communities.”

Asked about Development Services’ intention to bring it to the council after rejection by the planning commission, Lee stated. “After the meeting, there was a thought, ‘let’s get it to the council’. The very next day, the plan became ‘let’s get it out to the public’.”

There will be four public hearings. They will be on Saturday, Sept. 30, 3-5 p.m. at Veterans Park Community Center; Wednesday, Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m. at Whaley Park Community Center;; Saturday, Oct. 14, 11-1 p.m. at the Best Western Golden Sails Hotel and Wednesday, Oct. 18, 6-8 p.m. at the Expo Center in Bixby Knolls.

After these hearings, it will go back to the planning commission in mid to late October. Lee expects the plan to end up at the city council by the end of the year.

According to Mungo’s Chief of Staff, Christine Schacter, the plan is not to just recommend condos, but also retail, though there is the expectation of less retail based on trend indicating fewer shopping centers, a result of increased on-line retail.

The recommendation after this process “could be anything,” said Lee. “We’re going to hear the public, their needs and wants. I think in general, there is positive reaction, some people have expressed the need for more housing, and affordable housing as well.”

Lee described a new state law on accessory housing, allowing property owners to legally build another unit on their property. “They cannot build whatever they want. Building and planning will be strict. It’s not like they can just go and do it.” Already there have been permits pulled for such housing. “There hasn’t been a lot. It will go to the council for enhancement to that law.” Asked whether these enhancements would be more expansive or restrictive, Lee answered, “probably more restrictive.”

Currently, Fourth District residential is composed of single family homes and garden style one and two story apartments. Several churches in the area would be subject to rezoning. If the church leases, the property owner could replace that use with condos.

Bethany Church and the First Church of the Nazarene on Clark Avenue near Los Coyotes Diagonal could thus be impacted. The Unitarian Church on Atherton owns their property, but their zoning change could permit five stories, which could motivate the congregation to sell. Next door to the church, the am/pm and the medical building in the Fourth District, and the apartment building in the Third District at Atherton and Bellflower could also be subject to the new plan.

“People can be concerned with parts of it that might affect their situation,” said Lee. “ We don’t have new land to build on. We have to plan for the future, 15 to 20 years out, we have to be prepared for that.” Or as Supernaw paraphrased a “Field Of Dreams” quote, “We didn’t build it and still they came.”

steve@beachcomber.news

Category:

Comments

Amazing on how one sided Propes' article is as well as many misstated facts that are extremely material to this issue. Was this done on purpose? Doubt it! The first outrageous inaccurate reporting is that LB is already compliant with the new State Reg. even though it is older. There is NO MANDATE OR REQUIREMENT to change this LUE. This is an outright LIE by LEE! That should be enough for now to engage LB residents. Of course there is many many more lies stated here!

Wow. Just what we don't need. More people shoved into this city. Just going to ruin this whole area. More people more cars. How will this help things? Oh yeah, it's going to make some people rich whole don't live in those areas.

They will make it affordable and I am sure they will have to allow a percentage to be Section 8. Bringing in riffraff and driving property values down. Bringing in more crime and traffic to the area until the east side becomes like the west and north sides of LB. All they care about is the $$$ they can collect.

Our neighborhood's in the 5th district are desirable *because* there IS NO HIGH DENSITY HOUSING. Our neighborhood's are safe, clean, quiet, and desirable *because* there is NO HIGH DENSITY HOUSING. Our property values are stable, our streets are clean, we don't have gangs, It's safe to walk our dogs, it's safe for children to play in their front yards, we don't have 'parking' issues, our neighborhood's aren't filled with transient tenants, it's safe for children to ride their bicycles, our neighborhood's are a destination for many new homeowners who hope to raise their children and create new memories for their families *because* there is NO HIGH DENSITY HOUSING.

Families who've chosen to purchase their homes in single family communities are the backbone, stability, and strength of any community. We require less public services, less police services, less fire services, less of everything... Single family homeowners are not a burden on neighborhood's. MULTIPLE FAMILY, HIGH DENSITY HOUSING is a burden on every aspect of quality of life for the communities they're built. Plus, the 'talk' is to create "affordable" housing. "Affordable" is subjective. In terms of incentivized housing, "affordable" means the developer has received tax dollars to 'encourage' and subsidize the development. "Affordable" means importing poverty into communities who have proven that neighborhood stability and community pride is directly related to single family family homeownership. Renters are not an asset, in fact, renters degrade communities. It may not sound fair, but, it's factual. All types of crime are higher in communities with a very transient population. Fact.

Can it be that the developers who are so beloved in Long Beach politics are tired of fighting with the renters in downtown? The parking impacted neighborhood's (all of downtown) have come to a boiling point, there's no way to 'fix' the parking problems, and Mayor Garcia keeps making it worse by encouraging every square inch of the city be developed. So, the developers best friends decide to encroach into neighborhood's and communities who's avoided overdevelopment and irresponsible high density housing and have decided....... "hey, there's these neighborhood's in the 4th & 5th districts where there is parking available in front of these houses, there's a bunch of churches, the homeowners are not radicals or socially aware so we could pretty much do whatever we want and no one will care. Soooooo, let's go ahead and plan 5&6 story apartments and condos with no parking, let's encroach on the quiet and privacy of these 'boring single family communities' and build stuff for people who don't live here. These families are too stupid to understand that we're going to use the term 'affordable housing' so that we sound politically correct, but we all know that it will be market rate housing and the density will destroy what these communities are. But, hahahahaaaa, who cares!"

There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain the integrity of single family communities. Politicians, newspaper editorialists, and those who've been convinced by the media that they will never be able to afford to purchase a home, need to take a long hard look into the value (aside from the obvious financial value) of single family communities. Historically, single family communities have helped to create the stability that attracts new families to California. But, in 2017, California is importing poverty. Being a sanctuary state, county, and city is creating a division in our state that will never be fixed by destroying single family communities. If Californian's want to return to our historical prosperity, where every citizen has the opportunity to become a homeowner, we can't continue to destroy the fabric of our great state by importing poverty. We can't house every poor person. We can't destroy communities for a specific political agenda.

Leave our neighborhood's alone. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your neighborhood and the stability that our community brings to Long Beach.

Our neighborhood's in the 5th district are desirable *because* there IS NO HIGH DENSITY HOUSING. Our neighborhood's are safe, clean, quiet, and desirable *because* there is NO HIGH DENSITY HOUSING. Our property values are stable, our streets are clean, we don't have gangs, It's safe to walk our dogs, it's safe for children to play in their front yards, we don't have 'parking' issues, our neighborhood's aren't filled with transient tenants, it's safe for children to ride their bicycles, our neighborhood's are a destination for many new homeowners who hope to raise their children and create new memories for their families *because* there is NO HIGH DENSITY HOUSING.

Families who've chosen to purchase their homes in single family communities are the backbone, stability, and strength of any community. We require less public services, less police services, less fire services, less of everything... Single family homeowners are not a burden on neighborhood's. MULTIPLE FAMILY, HIGH DENSITY HOUSING is a burden on every aspect of quality of life for the communities they're built. Plus, the 'talk' is to create "affordable" housing. "Affordable" is subjective. In terms of incentivized housing, "affordable" means the developer has received tax dollars to 'encourage' and subsidize the development. "Affordable" means importing poverty into communities who have proven that neighborhood stability and community pride is directly related to single family family homeownership. Renters are not an asset, in fact, renters degrade communities. It may not sound fair, but, it's factual. All types of crime are higher in communities with a very transient population. Fact.

Can it be that the developers who are so beloved in Long Beach politics are tired of fighting with the renters in downtown? The parking impacted neighborhood's (all of downtown) have come to a boiling point, there's no way to 'fix' the parking problems, and Mayor Garcia keeps making it worse by encouraging every square inch of the city be developed. So, the developers best friends decide to encroach into neighborhood's and communities who's avoided overdevelopment and irresponsible high density housing and have decided....... "hey, there's these neighborhood's in the 4th & 5th districts where there is parking available in front of these houses, there's a bunch of churches, the homeowners are not radicals or socially aware so we could pretty much do whatever we want and no one will care. Soooooo, let's go ahead and plan 5&6 story apartments and condos with no parking, let's encroach on the quiet and privacy of these 'boring single family communities' and build stuff for people who don't live here. These families are too stupid to understand that we're going to use the term 'affordable housing' so that we sound politically correct, but we all know that it will be market rate housing and the density will destroy what these communities are. But, hahahahaaaa, who cares!"

There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain the integrity of single family communities. Politicians, newspaper editorialists, and those who've been convinced by the media that they will never be able to afford to purchase a home, need to take a long hard look into the value (aside from the obvious financial value) of single family communities. Historically, single family communities have helped to create the stability that attracts new families to California. But, in 2017, California is importing poverty. Being a sanctuary state, county, and city is creating a division in our state that will never be fixed by destroying single family communities. If Californian's want to return to our historical prosperity, where every citizen has the opportunity to become a homeowner, we can't continue to destroy the fabric of our great state by importing poverty. We can't house every poor person. We can't destroy communities for a specific political agenda.

Leave our neighborhood's alone. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your neighborhood and the stability that our community brings to Long Beach.

I live downtown- there are very real problems with density. I don't think it's fair to force these issues on to people who have made a decision to live in a low density area. At some point, people will need to move out of California. We cannot support everyone. And we should be working harder to build a broader middle class and not just sustain extreme wealth (ahem: developers, $200,000/yr city managers/dept heads) and extreme poverty.

Where is the water coming from?

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