Parklets An Issue for BSRA

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By Stephen Downing

Genny Hulbrock, president of the Belmont Shore Residents Association (BSRA) was passing out flyers on Sunday, urging Belmont Shore residents to attend the Tuesday, Sept. 14, City Council meeting.

Hulbrock said that the latest extension of “temporary” parklets that was granted in May 2021 was to end on Sept. 30 and when the extension was granted, the city manager said the extension would “give businesses time to apply for and be granted permanent parklet status.”

The BRSA president also pointed to the fact that the city engineer “expressed concerns about parklets on Second Street due to the nature of the roadway and the amount of traffic passing through.”

She said, “If all of the parklets had gone through the application process and qualified as Modica said, there would be no need for an extension of the temporary status” adding that “I don’t think a citywide extension is appropriate because each neighborhood’s capacity for permitted parklets varies.”

The association president pointed out that “there are established permanent parklet guidelines developed by the city prior to the epidemic, which must be met for a permanent parklet permit to be granted” and that “ if parklet’s aren’t permitted by Sept. 30, they should be torn down.”

Hulbrock said that the reason she was handing out petitions on Sunday is because of the very late notice they received that the council is going to consider a recommendation from the Department of Public Works to “extend the previously approved Open Streets Initiative plan allowing restaurants and other related service industry temporary parklets and outdoor dining spaces to remain open through June 30, 2022.

According to a document obtained by the Beachcomber dated Sept. 14, the deputy director of Public Works recommended continuation of the Open Streets Initiative through June 30, 2022.

In his letter of recommendation the Public Works official said “While approval of this recommendation will extend the Open Streets Initiative, staff has a process in place to address complaints received regarding specific parklets. Temporary parklet permit holders may have installations removed and permits revoked prior to June 30, 2022, if they do not comply with the conditions described in their respective permit.”

The deputy director also acknowledged “continuation in the coastal zone will be conditioned on approval from the California Coastal Commission as applicable.” The Belmont Shore business district is located within the coastal zone.

The letter does not address the primary concerns of the BSRA surrounding the parklet’s impact on parking congestion in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Hulbrock said of the program, “What bothers me most is the city’s complete lack of follow though, absence of transparency and total lack of consideration for residents impacted by the parklets.”

In a Sept. 12 newsletter to her constituents entitled “Coming Up on City Council’ Councilmember Suzie Price announced that the issue would be on the council agenda on Sept. 14, stating “I know there are many opinions on parklets, particularly those in Belmont Shore on 2nd Street, and that my staff and I have had the opportunity to discuss this with many residents all across the district.”

Price continued her message, writing: “For those of you who are interested in this topic, or feel strongly, I would encourage you to attend the upcoming City Council meeting in person and be a part of the City Council's discussion. This is your chance as a resident to provide public comment on this topic and give input while the City Council deliberates this topic.” 

The BSRA president sent a Sept. 10 letter to Mayor Robert Garcia – with copies to councilmembers – informing him that the agenda item, (#30), “only as it relates to Belmont Shore be postponed to provide sufficient community awareness and input before making a decision about the future of existing and future parklets in Belmont Shore.

“An integral part of this request is that a community meeting be publicized and conducted in Belmont Shore by Councilwoman Suzie Price in order to receive public comment regarding retention of existing parklets in Belmont Shore before bringing this item back to the City Council for consideration and a vote.”

The BSRA president concluded her letter, writing: “Because time is of the essence in this matter, we ask that the meeting occur within the next 30 days and the permit for the existing Belmont Shore parklets be extended only until October 30.”

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police. Stephen.Beachcomber@Gmail.com

 

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