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Friday, December 23, 2011

My Comments During Council's Vote on 2nd and PCH

Before I vote on this project, I think it is important to set out a number of issues that need to be considered before the vote is taken:

·      Tonight and this last week – are not last minute appeals – this is the first time these individuals have had the opportunity to address the city council with their issues – so let’s not mis-characterize.

·      I also want to clarify that Lyon Communities is not a new developer – they have been very active on a number of projects in the City.

·      I do believe it is misleading to state that the City needs to go forth on this project because the property in question is such an eyesore. The property is an eyesore – because the City of Long Beach has allowed it to be so. The site is littered with buses, limos, strawberry stands, a building that has been allowed to run down and no matter how we vote tonight – the eyesore needs to be cleaned up. Code enforcement needs to do its job – we demand that our residents maintain their property – we should do no less with other property owners.

·      We have somehow put the proverbial horse before the cart. The area being considered is included in a comprehensive planning area – called SEADIP – Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan – a plan that was crafted by the residents and the developers – in the 1970s to control density, building heights to no more than 35 feet and traffic in a specific area. Any development of property within SEADIP must either conform with the plan – which this projects does not – or SEADIP must be changed in context with the entire area. This has not been done.

·      Let’s take a moment and talk about the purpose of SEADIP – and why Long Beach residents and developers worked together. It was the 1970s, and Long Beach was infamous for allowing developments without much care for impact. In fact, the City Planning Director was convicted of taking bribes from a team of architects who worked on 6 projects – including Marina Pacifica – at the time the largest building permit ever issued by the City Planning Department. The plan was put together in little over a year from mid 1976 to August 1977. While the plan was being developed Market Place and Marina Pacifica retail area went forward which compounded the traffic and impact on the area. Residents vowed this should not happen again. Residents and developers labored to put together this plan with the following purposes: first of all deal with the traffic impacts of Bellflower and 7th – called the iron triangle – and Second and PCH – called the iron bottleneck.; keeping overall density and building heights low; keeping surrounding neighborhoods free of cross town traffic; keeping open spaces in the area. When SEADIP was adopted by the City Council it was hailed in an editorial in the Press Telegram: Something Great. The area was referred to as Long Beach’s Last Frontier.  Residents and developers had worked together to preserve the area and to require any development to be done consistent with an overall plan not done piecemeal.

·      The project also has to be approved by the State Coastal Commission. Today, City council members received a two page memo from the State Coastal Commission Manager who states: In discussions with City staff over the past year Commission staff has consistently stated concerns relative to the proposed project at 2nd and PCH. Specifically, staff has recommended that any significant changes to the use and development standards for this parcel should be considered only as a component of a comprehensive review and LCP update of the existing SEADIP.  It is reasonable to expect that other property owners of commercially developed parcels along PCH would expect to receive similar development entitlements from the City in the future. Commission staff believes that the only way to determine the true development potential of any single parcel within the SEADIP is via an LCP update that takes into account the cumulative impacts of all potential future development in this plan area including the parcels currently containing or potentially containing wetlands.”
·      If city staff were told this for the past year, why wasn’t council so informed? Why wasn’t the developer informed? And why would the city once again go forward on a project we know doesn’t conform with our own local coastal plan.
·      As to the retail potential of 2nd and PCH – I would like to quote from a 1970’s news article on Marina Pacifica and why the City needed it: 80 specialty stops, 9 major restaurants, 4 story office complex, a wooden pedestrian and bicycle bridge to promote neighborhoods to come to the shopping center, 2 novel design elements, 80 ft bell tower compared to St. Marks Square, mall will attract regional shoppers, shoppers will arrive by boat – the only facility in the nation to offer such facilities.
·      The traffic problems at Second and PCH are not mitigated in this project and can’t be because of the current configuration of the area. It only seems logical that the City needs to review and update SEADIP so we can deal with this entire area at one time and not in pieces. Because if we don’t – the owners of the adjacent properties at Market Place and Marina Pacifica will likewise want to develop and the problems will continue to compound.
·      Being called not business friendly is the new label to slap on anyone elected official who doesn’t want to give away the store…well for those of you who don’t come here every Tuesday – this council has given away millions of sales taxes away to businesses – Best Buy, Worthington Ford, Circle Audi….
·      But being a cheap date or pushover when it comes to our own zoning restrictions – doesn’t make us business friendly. It makes us contempous of the residents who have to navigate the messes we allow.
·      I would remind all here tonight that retail development isn’t happening anywhere – to date we still do not have tenants for the retail portion of Douglas Park in my district – and trust me – this city has facilitated every request for development on the former Boeing property.  That property is ready to go – so if you truly have retailers lined up to come to Long Beach – please send them over to Douglas Park.
·      But dealing with this project  -- let’s really be a business friendly city and get this right. Let’s get SEADIP reviewed and get the traffic mitigated so we can bring in development that will work in the area – not make the area a place where because of traffic – people once again do not patronize a massive development. 

I then made the motion which was approved 8-0 to direct city staff to move rapidly on setting up the process for reviewing and revising SEADIP.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Get to Know SEADIP Because You'll Be Hearing a Lot About It

There is much confusion over exactly what is SEADIP in Long Beach, how it came about, whether or not it has to be followed today and why the issues it dealt with are the very same ones now being raised by potential developers at 2nd and PCH.

In the 1970's Long Beach was famous for allowing the building of developments without much care for their impact. The City Planning Director in fact was convicted of taking more than $52,000 in bribes from a team of architects who worked on 6 projects..that by the way were built...including Marina Pacifica (at that time the largest building permit ever issued by the City Planning Department).

The City Manager resigned before being ousted and the Council formed taskforces to deal with a number of issues including: citizen participation, reforming appointments to committees, commissions and boards.

Prior to the arrest of the planning director a citizen taskforce north of Seal Beach. The plan to be developed was called Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan (SEADIP). Members of the taskforce became very upset when it was disclosed that 4 of the developments for which bribes were accepted were in the area being studied for regulation.

The focus of the taskforce was to deal with development in a responsible way that did not adversely impact the existing neighborhoods. Residents contended that PCH and Second Streets were clogged.
They argued that projects already under way (Marina Pacifica Shopping Center and the Market
Place) were too big for their approaches and that coordination of planning between city and developers
was inadequate.

As the Chairwoman Jan Hall told the local press: "It would be a tragedy to allow high density development in the SEADIP area that would compel unacceptable traffic conditions or radical measures..."

One of many newspaper articles pointed out that increasing the density of the SEADIP area would not be consistent with the Naples-like character recommended for the area in a shore line study done for the city by Sasaki-Walker.

When the 113 page document was finalized by the taskforce and adopted by the Planning Commission, SEADIP was hailed in editorials by the local press because it was a compromise of development with preservation. -- setting a maximum commercial building height of 35 feet.

SEADIP became an amendment to the 1961 general plan and was adopted unanimously by the City Council in 1977.

See below to read a series of newspaper accounts of what went on during the formation of SEADIP.
 Traffic Snarls SEADIP
Del Sol Project Approved
Beginnings of SEADIP
SEADIP Talks Extended
SEADIP Hearings
LB City Council Adopts SEADIP
 SEADIP A Dilmemma for the City
 Heart and Soul of SEADIP Gets Approved
Citizens Help in Planning
The Map of Long Beach's Last Frontier
Editorial Praising SEADIP

There are many more articles on SEADIP. But these should give you an idea of the intent and purpose of those many citizen meetings.

Why SEADIP Matters Tonight

Tonight the City Council will decide whether or not to approved the 2nd and PCH project -- you know, the one that promises to obliterate the blight at the southeast entrance to the City.

Before I go further, you have to ask yourself...self, why has the city not done code enforcement over there to make the owner clean up the property and stop using it as a parking lot for buses, limos and double deckers? Or has that been the plan all along...make it look so bad that the city would say yes to the first plan to come along to change it...

Anyway, I attended a town hall a few weeks ago sponsored by the Los Cerritos Wetlands Trust and listened to a full house ask numerous questions of the guest speaker. Among the many concerns expressed about the project and the city staff recommendation is the fact that city staff has now recommended amendment to SEADIP Local Coastal Plan that will not only allow changes in development restrictions for 2nd and PCH but be used as the template for additional development in SEADIP. Whoah....wait a minute buddy. We have gone from a specific project to an entire development area?

Little problem folks that may land the City back in court like we were taken on the ill planned Home Depot project adjacent to the wetlands...the EIR only addresses the impact of the specific project not changes to an entire zoning area.

The rules are clear and have been since the residents of the area and developers came together in the 1970s and established SEADIP – not high rises (buildings above 35 feet) and traffic and other impacts have to be mitigated. The proposed project breaks all the rules – so that is why some want to change the rules.

I am linking in this article Los Cerritos Wetlands Trust documents; articles on SEADIP; and the topic of the hour – the City staff report.

Traffic Impact

Alternates for site

SEADIP and Traffic

Seadip complaints

Seadip -- Dilemma for the City

Press Telegram editorial praising SEADIP

Stay tuned. It is far from over.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Things I Have Worked on this Month...

 I want to call your attention to several important items I have worked on:

  1. Long Beach Joins Specific Needs Disaster Voluntary Registry

    The purpose of this registry is to facilitate the planning and implementation of disaster response by first-responder agencies to Specific Needs persons living in the County of Los Angeles. The registry is a project of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management in cooperation with other cities and agencies in the Los Angeles County disaster response operational area.

    If you (or the person you are registering) live in Los Angeles County and have any of the following conditions which might impede with your abilities to evacuate a building, travel to or stay safely in an emergency evacuation center, or to securely shelter in place without assistance, then you may want to consider enrolling in the Registry.

    Should a disaster strike in your area, this registry will be used to enhance the efficiency of those agencies called upon to respond. Enrollees are not prioritized for first consideration or evacuation. However the responding agencies will use this information to maximize their capacity to serve those with specific needs, both in the planning and preparation process, as well as in their actual post-disaster response.

    open explanation
    Physical disabilities
    open explanation
    Cardiac and/or respiratory circumstances
    open explanation
    Developmental disabilities
    open explanation
    Emotional or psychiatric disabilities
    open explanation
    Deafness or hearing loss
    open explanation
    Blindness or severe vision loss
    open explanation
    Speech impairments
    open explanation
    Short-term disabilities
    open explanation
    Reliance on technologies that use electricity
    open explanation
    Using medications
    open explanation
    Participation in a home delivery program
    open explanation
    Need specialized paratransit vehicles
    open explanation
    Experience seizures
    open explanation
    Immune system deficiencies
    open explanation
    Communicable diseases
    open explanation
    Severe chemical or other allergies
    Enrollment in the Specific Needs Registry is completely voluntary. Please read and understand the following paragraphs before enrolling. If you choose to enroll, please fill out the forms as completely and accurately as possible. Please remember to keep your registry profile updated, especially if your circumstances change. The information you provide could help to save your life.

    Click here and find out more about the SNAP registry.

2. Public Meeting on Potential Closure of Redondo Avenue Post Office. 
Although I was unable to attend, I did send staff to represent me and to clearly state my opposition to losing this postal site and the 600+ jobs that go with it.
Click here to find out more about the closure.

3. Update on Construction of New High School at DeMille Site.

I have requested periodic updates on the construction being done at the site of DeMille. The new facility will be a state of the art high school named after African American leader Ernest McBride. Click here to read update.

4. Vin Fiz Replica in Place at LB Arena -- Less than 900 feet from Where Cal Rodgers Landed in 1911.

The ceremony was wonderful and we even had a long lost relative of Cal Rodgers come all the way to see the replica that was being place in the lobby of the LB Arena...just less than 900 feet from where he landed on December 10, 1911, completing the first flight across America. If you get a chance, stop by the Arena lobby and see a piece of Long Beach and aviation history. Click here to read more about the event in the City Manager's newsletter.

5. Annual Report of the California Medical Board on which I serve.

This Board licenses and disciplines all physicians in California. I have been proudly serving as the only Registered Nurse (and Attorney) on this or any other Medical Board in the US for over 4 years. Click here to read our report.

 I do lots of work on behalf of the 5th Council District. Thought it important to share some of what has taken place this month.

Save Station 18

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