Land Use Element / Density Increase Maps, Background and History
Land Use Element Coverage
Land Use Element / Density Increase Maps, Background and History
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(Latest update: March 23, 2018) -- Below are links to LB's Land Use Element, density increase maps and Sacramento-impacting legislation.
Long Beach officials discussed revising ("updating") the city's 1989 Land Use Element for over a decade, but the issue advanced significantly after the 2014 elections of Mayor Garcia and a new Council majority (Gonzalez, Price, Mungo, Uranga, Richardson.)
May, 2015: City staff released a draft Land Use Element with maps proposing varying levels of increased density in various parts of the city. It was more than an simple update; staff proposed to change the entire way City Hall treats land uses citywide, replacing neighborhood descriptions with "PlaceTypes" listing allowed land uses in areas citywide. LBREPORT.com reported the development here.
May 2015-August 2016: City staff discusses its proposed LUE revision in mainly low visibility, low attendance venues. Some 3rd dist. residents learned of proposed height/density increases affecting their area and objected, and city staff tweaked its proposed maps.
August 2016: City staff quietly puts a revised 160+ page draft Land Use Element online, including maps that can be viewed here.
Feb. 2, 2017: City staff agendizes for Planning Commission voted action its 160+ page draft Land Use Element (LUE) at this link. It includes proposed density increase maps at the links below:
Along with the 160+ page LUE, city staff seeks Planning Commission approval for an accompanying Urban Design Element and a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). LBREPORT.com alerts our readers to the upcoming action at this link with a special report regarding ELB- changes at this link Staff's proposed actions could have sent the Land Use Element package to the City Council for voted approval, but a number of Wrigley residents testified in opposition to density increases in their area. Some Planning Commissioners agreed and voiced the view that density increases should be allocated "more fairly" citywide including parts of East Long Beach, leading city staff to schedule a study session to examine those options. LBREPORT.com reported the development here.
April 6, 2017: The Planning Commission holds a study session at NLB's Michelle Obama Library to [city staff agendizing memo text] "consider changes to height and density in mixed-use corridors, with a focus on distributing growth potential more evenly throughout the City." The focus of the study session was "to conduct a facilitated review of the city staff proposed PlaceType and height map and so the Commission could provide feedback to staff on areas where increased residential density and height limits would be of benefit to the surrounding community and the City overall." The meeting is again attended by a number of Wrigley area residents but this time includes ELB residents Ann Cantrell and Corliss Lee (who'd become aware of the proceedings via coverage on LBREPORT.com.)
April 24, 2017: Ms. Lee sought to alert residents to the proposed land use changes during a neighborhood meeting held by 5th district Councilwoman, Stacy Mungo, to the proposed land use changes she observed at the April 6 Planning Commission study session. In response, Councilwoman Mungo denied and disparaged Ms. Lee's information and declined to support her efforts to curtail staff's proposed three story Plaza area commercial heights (LBREPORT.com coverage with AUDIO here.)
June 13, 2017: The City Council holds a study session on the LUE (LBREPORT.com coverage here) but agendizes its Feb. 2017 proposed maps although staff was already revising those maps to shift more density to ELB (based on April 6 Planning Commission discussion)
June 15, 2017: Two days after the Council study session, city staff reveals revised land use density increase maps that propose significantly increased building heights and intensified mixed uses in parts of the 4th and 5th Council districts. Among staff's proposed changes: ELB's Los Altos shopping center (Target/Sears) along the east side of Bellflower Blvd. at Stearns St. and the commercial center along the east side of Bellflower Blvd at Spring St. (Kmart/Lowes/24 Hour Fitness) could have five story buildings. Smaller neighborhood shopping nodes along Los Coyotes Diagonal north of Spring St. ("Pavilions" plaza) and at Wardlow Rd. north and south of Wardlow Rd. could have buildings up to four stories high. So would parts of Pacific Ave. in Wrigley. To view these maps, click here. Staff accompanied its revised maps with a detailed 22 page memo here.
Fifth district resident Corliss Lee testifies at the Planning Commission study session and voices frustration, noting that she's testified in previous venues citing specific reasons not to allow three story buildings at the Plaza quadrants (Palo Verde/Spring St.) only to receive a dismissive responses from city staff with no changes.
At the June 15 Planning Commission meeting, city staff took a sharply confrontational stance, pushing-back against push-back by residents and effectively going on the offensive. Regarding charges by Wrigley area residents that increased density and higher building heights will harm their already challenged neighborhoods, city staff said the proposed density will improve neighborhoods, not harm them; will bring public safety benefits that will deter crime, not invite it; will benefit traditionally underserved parts of the city, not create environmental justice issues; and will replace crime-attracting current uses with higher and better neighborhood serving uses. Staff said its proposed density increases, particularly in transit-served areas [such as along the Metro Blue Line], reflect good contemporary planning practices, address the city's current housing shortage, invite future jobs and comply with state mandated housing/transit centered policies and greenhouse gas reductions. LBREPORT.com reported this neighborhood impacting development at this link. Word spread via NextDoor.com. Ms. Lee alerted the grassroots Council of Neighborhood Organizations (CONO) led by Robert Fox, and the 4th district blog published by Joe Mello detailed Los Altos and adjoining area impacts.
Aug. 17, 2017: City staff agendizes its June 15 maps, with limited revisions, for LB Planning Commission voted action that could send the maps to the City Council. To view the Aug. 17 maps, click here. Staff accompanied its revised maps with a detailed memo here.
Twenty-nine public speakers from neighborhoods from Wrigley to ELB blast the revised maps and charge that City Hall failed to provide the public with notice of their significance. The Planning Commission votes 4-1 to recommend additional public input before bringing the maps to the Council, but Development Services Director Amy Bodek says staff intends to bring the maps to the Council on Oct. 3 regardless of the Planning Commission's vote on grounds the item is already scheduled for Council discussion on that date. LBREPORT.com coverage here. The audience voices audible anger, which spills over onto social networks within hours.
Aug. 18, 2017: Mayor Garcia issues a public statement urging staff to get additional public input before bringing the maps to the City Council and says he won't schedule the item for Council consideration until after additional public input and Planning Commission consideration of that public input in making its recommendations. [Few notice that the Oct. 3 Council session -- scheduled before the Planning Commission had voted on the issue -- was likely scheduled with the approval of Mayor Garcia's office, which routinely oversees scheduling items on Council agendas.]
Sept. 2017: Two independent ELB resident groups surface. Corliss Lee organizes The Eastside Voice (spanning 4th and 5th Council districts) and others organize Density Watch (5th district). Both groups hold well attended neighborhood meetings in opposition to the proposed LUE. CONO begins distributing professionally printed orange signs stating "Say NO to the LUE."
Sept. 27, 2017 City staff announces it plans to hold four LUE "workshops" with a format in which the public can go to "information stations" to speak with city staff but with no opportunity for "Town Hall" style public statements that all meeting attendees can hear. A number of residents criticize the "information station" format as "divide and conquer" and urge a Town Hall format but receive no support from Councilmembers or city staff.
September 30, 2017: Over 300 people show up for the first "workshop" at Wrigley's Veterans Park. CONO leader Robert Fox and supporters basically take control of the meeting and allow a de facto Town Hall at which the public speaks and staff (reluctantly) reponded. CONO follows-up by announcing it will do so again the upcoming "workshops" unless the City agrees to allow a Town Hall type format...and the city quickly agrees to a changed format (Town Hall plus information stations).
Oct. 4, 2017: A crowd variously estimated at between 400+ (LBREPORT.com) to 700 (Councilman Supernaw's newsletter) attends the Town Hall/workshop at Whaley Park. Nearly all speakers blast the proposed density increase maps. (LBREPORT.com coverage here.)
Oct 14 and 18: Roughly 500+ (nearly 600 at its max) attend an Oct. 10 meeting at the Golden Sails Hotel (LBREPORT.com coverage here.) Nearly 500 attend the final session in Scherer Park (LBREPORT.com coverage here.) [Some of the attendees attended more than one of the meetings.]
Nov. 10, 2017: City staff releases its proposed revised LUE density increase maps. Low resolution; High resolution. On Nov. 25, city staff also releases a full draft of its proposed Land Use Element document (160+ pages) at this link (196 pages) and sets a Planning Commission special meeting on the issue for a Dec. 11, 2017.
Nov. 20 City Hall launches social network campaign regarding its proposed LUE and density increases. LBREPORT.com provides additional information and perspective at this link.
December 11, 2017: Planning Commission makes recommended changes to city staff proposed maps. Coverage here.
Late January-early March 2018: Mayor Robert Garcia holds private "round table discussions" in all Council districts with invitees suggested and facilitated by Robert Fox. Coverage here and here
December 2017-January 2018: Downtown Long Beach Alliance (through its affiliated "Downtown Development Corporation") hires a private firm that produces a report contending city staff's proposed LUE under-estimates housing needs. coverage here. In February 2018, DLBA board votes to authorize taking an advocacy position urging greater housing density beyond downtown, coverage here..
March 6, 2018: Council votes to make changes, suggested by each Councilmember for his/her district without dissent by other Councilmembers, to Planning Commission's recommended maps. Coverage here.
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