Long Beach 2017 Events in Review

Steve Propes

The New Year 2017 began with the January 1 closing of Baja Sonora on Clark Avenue, replaced by a taco truck. Word from the operators of Time Square was to expect a return in nine months. Right.

January 15

A homeless female was threatening citizens by swinging a knife in their direction. Police attempted to de-escalate the problem by negotiating, which didn’t work. Neither did the Taser they used to stop her. In the end, an officer-involved shooting ended the threat and her life.

January 20

About 3.91 inches of rain fell on a very wet Sunday with toppled trees, scattered palm fronds and nearly overflowing flood control channels. There were 80 calls for service for flooded intersections and from five to ten people rescued form stranded vehicles. Some overflow from channels made driving hazardous, the 710 Freeway near Pacific Coast Highway turned into a channel. Two teens who took to a raft were rescued from the L.A. River.

February 14

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Fifth District City Councilwoman Stacy Mungo showed up for the groundbreaking of Long Beach Exchange (LBX), an airport-themed shopping center at Lakewood Boulevard and Carson Street in Douglas Park. Swanky shops and restaurants are to be completed by spring 2018.

March 2

The planning commission approved a final environmental impact report (EIR) for the Belmont Beach and Aquatic Center to replace, at a cost of $103 million, the 47-year-old Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, demolished two years ago.

April 8

A palm tree fire on city property near the San Gabriel Flood Control near the Wal-Mart resembled a flare indicating trouble. As there is a population that calls this area home, there was an agreement this was a homeless encampment fire.

May 7

At a follow-up meeting held by Mungo, several of the fifty or so residents gave sometimes strident opinions of those who make the banks of the San Gabriel River their home. Efforts to remove homeless encampments from the property face Draconian challenges, mostly legal, which limit the city’s ability to clean up the area, less they face lawsuits from people whose property has been removed.

June 3

Third District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce and her former chief of staff, Devin Cotter were arguing on the side of the 710 Freeway near Shoreline Village, Cotter sporting a cut on his forehead. Cotter was later arrested for violating his DUI probation. Pearce was investigated for suspected DUI and domestic violence, but was not arrested. Beachcomber columnist, Stephen Downing characterized this as VIP treatment. A recall Pearce campaign has started and the L.A. County D.A.’s public integrity division is investigating.

July 1

The voice of K-Jazz, Helen Borgers was absent from the air at her afternoon KKJZ shift. After 38 years, her layoff was “such a bolt from the blue!” Her plans to join a similar jazz station in San Diego were derailed when she was admitted to Long Beach Memorial for life-saving surgery. Borgers died several weeks after surgery on November 12.

August 17

The development services department was directed by the planning commission to engage in “public outreach” to areas potentially impacted by a proposed Land Use Element (LUE), bringing what’s described as “downtown style density” to East Long Beach. Among other proposals were rezoning certain church properties and existing retail areas with high density residential and some retail, but without additional parking. Outreach worked. All meetings were overflow, characterized by intense debate. In the end, some of the more ambitious development plans were shelved and the department chief moved to a new job with the county. “We didn’t build it, and still they came” said Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw.

October 20

After years of plans for hotels and several shopping centers being advanced, crews began demolishing the 55-year-old Seaport Marina hotel, the home of Super Bowl teams of the 1960s, Elvis Presley when in town in the 60s/70s, Long Beach Blues Festival parties in the 1980s, and homeless victims of Hurricane Katrina in the 2000s. The replacement, dubbed 2nd and PCH will be outfitted for swanky places for food, drink and the all-important leisure. Elvis has finally left the building.

November 8

The city settled a lawsuit with the plaintiff, who alleged a Proposition 218 violation over funds transferred from the water department in excess of actual costs. The city manager expected a $7 million hole in the municipal budget and the mayor made early efforts to fill that hole through a ballot measure, yet to be fully described.

November 9

A brother and sister were riding their bikes east on Conant Street at Woodruff Ave. through a green light when struck by a Suburban. The 11-year-old girl was injured, but weren’t life-threatening, but her brother, 12-year-old Eric Dagel, died as a result.

November and December

The holidays provided a spike in auto and truck burglaries and added a new term to the criminal lexicon: porch pirates.



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