Parkview Village Housing Proposal Riles Residents

Steve Propes

On Feb. 3, about 50 and 60 Lakewood Village residents attended a meeting held by Parkview Village management at Cirivellos. Also there was Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo.

For the landlord, Beptal Properties’ Ben Efraim, audience feedback was less than encouraging. Efraim’s basic message to the crowd was, for Parkview Village, “change is inevitable. What would you like to see? A two-story parking structure or two-story townhomes?”

The answer was neither. Leave Parkview Village as is.

The issue is not new as recalled by Lakewood Village resident, Paul Paolilli. “He’s been trying to put out stuff for 10 years when it was a senior citizens home with underground parking.”

According to Parkview Village property manager Jim Ault, that proposal has never really gone away. “Ten years ago we don’t have the support we wanted. Now is the time because of the Land Use Element (LUE),” meaning a most controversial proposal to build housing in the east side of Long Beach in sites previously zoned for retail only.

The LUE is slated to come in front of the city council on March 6, and if it passes, Parkview Village could more easily apply for a mixed use designation, about which Lakewood Village Neighborhood Association President Bruce DeMille is staunchly opposed. “Once you get a residential, you have to have mixed use,” said DeMille. “If he gets mixed use residential, he gets streamlined processing, no planning or city council” approval needed as would otherwise be the case.

Ault and DeMille differ over the number of townhouse or apartment units that would be built if they were mixed use granted. “They never wanted to talk with us,” said DeMille, who said the original proposal was for four stories. Finally, “we met with him with several members of government relations committee. In the third meeting, it was 300 units. 54 units per acre.”

According to Ault, the 54-unit per acre figure is correct, but it’s only what’s allowed, not what is planned. Both Efraim and Ault say the plan is for between 240 and 250 units, or around 44 per acre. “The 300 reference was the limit of 54 units per acre, we don’t own the whole commercial village, we have 400 acres,” said Ault, referring to most of Viking Way and Village Road property up to the alley just south of the Post Office.

The one building not in the Parkview Village portfolio is Triangle Eye Care. However, according to Ault, “It’s in escrow,” being purchased by an unknown entity. Efraim stated he would like to acquire the property. “Dr. Tran is going to be relocating in the center,” said Ault.

Ault stated the Parkview Village’s “goal is to get mixed use, three story maximum height. 44 units per acre. From that point on, starts the long road, need the community to be more involved, how it’s structured down the road.”

That’s a road that many nearby residents don’t want to travel. Greenmeadow Road resident Alice Stasiak said. “The crowd was angry. I was quite surprised at that reaction. It’s the first time we’ve gotten with this homeowner’s association.” Stasiak worries about a possible underground parking structure behind Cirivello’s. “At the present time, you can’t access the alley from Greenmeadow.”

Ault described the proposal as two-story townhomes on Greenmeadow Road and Montair Avenue. Behind that would be three-story apartments or condos with access through the alley,” which would take residents directly to Carson Street or Bellflower Boulevard, bypassing the neighborhood streets. Ault said the choice was between two story townhomes and three-story apartments versus a two-story parking structure facing homes.

Both DeMille and Fifth District City Council candidate Corliss Lee contend some homeowners are considering selling as they believe the mixed use plan would negatively impact Lakewood Village. Lee views this as a test case, a vanguard to determine whether significant additional housing would be allowed in similar areas.

According to Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, there is in fact an earlier proposal involving the empty lot owned by Long Beach City College behind Ralph’s on Los Coyotes Diagonal just south of Wardlow, currently in “a very long escrow. The goal is to have commercial or residential. I talked to neighbors door to door, who were concerned about additional residential.” According to DeMille, as with Parkview Village, if residential is approved, the value of the property increases, thus the long escrow.

About the contention of Lee, Efraim said, “She hasn’t taken time to speak with me and has a low caliber of understanding. The LUE is the way for a municipality to consider any zone change, to include usages of what’s already allowed, currently two-story commercial. South of the alley, in all the commercial properties, the first floor would be retail.”

DeMille and Lee contend under terms of SB35, there are incentives for low-cost housing, such as allowing seven stories, without parking requirements, which “would change the character of the village.”

Efraim responded, “We have no plans to replace anything. For the next 25 years, should we replace any building, we would replace in accordance with the LUE.”

“In private, DeMille says one thing, in public he says something else,” said Efraim. “At first, DeMille said the plan is more palatable than the plan that all the existing apartment buildings along Carson and Lakewood could go up to three stories. He told me, ‘If we had to choose, we’d rather have your plan.’ At a Dec. 11 Planning Commission meeting, Efraim said “before the commission met, I asked Bruce, ‘why don’t we go up jointly and say we’d rather have the Parkview Village plan.’ That’s when he and his group said, ‘We don’t want anything at Parkview Village or anywhere else.’”

DeMille responded, “We voted that I wouldn’t mention Ben’s vision at the meeting, so I discussed the apartments on the three boulevards and did not mention Parkview Village.”

DeMille added, “That was the fear at the beginning after Ben asked to have conversations, that Ben would misconstrue.”

In a Feb. 9 press release, Mungo said, “It makes no sense to turn our suburbs into city centers, or flip our well thought out and designed single family neighborhoods into apartments and high-rises, when such development is better suited and better served elsewhere.”


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