West Side Looking Forward to Commercial Development and More Shopping Choices

Jon LeSage
THE CENTER DIVIDER on Santa Fe Avenue in west Long Beach is marked by trees and shrubbery. Some of that has come from programs supported by the city and local businesses in recent years.

The Long Beach City Council earlier this month voted to approve two west side redevelopment corridors – to improve quality of life for local residents and to bring more opportunities for economic development to the city.

The council approved updates to zoning ordinances in the two corridors – one is on Santa Fe Ave. between Wardlow Road and Pacific Coast Highway; and the second corridor is on Willow Street west of the 710 freeway. The city’s Planning Commission had delivered proposed zoning rules to the council that would bring more commercial development to parts of these two corridors.

It will be adopted as a nearly two-year-old building moratorium in the west side will be expiring in June. The city has spent time receiving input from area residents on reworking these zones to bring more commercial development and to incentivize needed businesses to come to this area.

The approval by the city council came with the intention of making changes to zoning rules to support improvements to the west side. Creation of a MU1-A zone will support more residential projects and a MU1-B zone will mandate development of future commercial projects in these two corridors.

For those living and working in that part of Long Beach, finding needed businesses and services like banks, pharmacies and grocery stores, has required traveling miles away to places that do have these services open for business.

There have also been concerns over the health hazards and quality of life for those living and working so close to the main passageways for heavy-duty freight trucks serving the two ports; those concerns are being addressed by policies and incentive programs through state agencies and local governments.

Taking a Look at the Zones

Heading west along Willow St., this corridor starts right past a bridge over the Los Angeles River next to the 710 freeway overpass and takes you to the city’s border right past State Route 103. The street becomes Sepulveda Blvd. and part of the city of Wilmington as you drive under a railway overpass. That heads into the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) area, a hub for heavy-duty trucks serving the ports.

The Willow Street corridor is full of small businesses, many times in worn buildings needing upgrades. You’ll find a few newer retail locations, such as fast-food chains, but mostly small businesses – such as Mexican food restaurants, vehicle service garages, cocktail bars, car washes and auto parts stores.

The stretch of Santa Fe Avenue is a mix of apartment buildings, businesses, Cabrillo High School and Silverado Park. The center divide is marked by trees and shrubbery along that stretch.

Santa Fe Avenue has benefited from improvements made in recent years, such as the Long Beach Economic Partnership (LBEP) bringing $250,000 in funding from the company Prologis and through support from Councilmember Roberto Uranga and other city officials. Improvements to that zone have included removing gum off the sidewalks, planting trees and painting murals on open spaces. Uranga and the Arts Council for Long Beach have supported bringing new murals to the Seventh District, which Uranga represents.

Uranga was pleased to see the city council adopt the zone changes earlier this month, which will tie into the city’s Land Use Element guidelines being implemented in other parts of Long Beach. The Land Use Element, which was approved by the city council in 2018, is expected to take a few years to see improvement projects being carried out. Revisions to the zoning rules in the west side is expected to help facilitate that process.

Jon LeSage is a resident of Long Beach and a veteran business media reporter and editor. You can reach him at jtlesage1@yahoo.com.



The only people looking forward to new commercial development on the westside are the (vampire) developers themselves who have been sucking the life blood of this city ever since The Little Dictator (Robert Garcia) announced that Long Beach was begging to be fleeced.

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