(August 7, 2003) -- Roughly 160 Lakewood Village (ELB) and Lakewood Country Club area residents filled a Lakewood Country Club meeting room to standing room only for a community meeting opposed to housing density proposed as part of Boeing Realty's PacifiCenter development.
PacifiCenter is Boeing Realty's mixed-use development proposed for the former McDonnell-Douglas factory site on the west side of Lakewood Blvd. and south of Carson St.
The August 6 community meeting drew a crowd exceeding expectations, spilling out the front door (LB activist Gary Shelton in garish print shirt in photo) as extra chairs were set up...and residents still lined the walls.
Organizers collected names, phone numbers...and email addresses.
Among the attendees we spotted: LB Golf Advisory Commission member (and ELB homeowner) Bob Peeters (left).
Also noted (but not photographed in the crowded room): Heartwell Park neighborhood activist Herb Levi, Carson Park Community Group president (Woodruff Ave. anti-condo activist) Angella Kimball, ELB/Los Altos realtor Joe Sopo, PT columnist Tom Hennessy and 5th district Council office aide Tim Patton.
Organizers supported non-residential alternatives at PacifiCenter. These included a light industrial business park, movie studio, aviation related uses or business park type uses found at Boeing developments in other southland cities that organizers said don't include residential components.
Speakers focused their objections on what they called high density residential components of PacifiCenter -- multi-unit apartment buildings and condominiums -- calling this incompatible with the adjacent residential neighborhoods. (PacifiCenter also includes commercial retail, light industrial and office uses which did not draw objections.)
Co-organizer Dave See (from ELB's Lakewood Village) told the meeting, "We feel there are some viable alternatives to the residential component...[An] office complex, like the Kilroy Center on the south side of the Airport, light industrial, high tech...a movie studio -- a former Boeing site in Downey is now being used as a movie studio...-- minimal retail, aviation related facility, all fairly compatible with our neighborhoods."
Co-organizer Ron Wade said, "What we're trying to do is get the number of [high density] units eliminated or substantially reduced." He subsequently added, "Commercial we don't have a problem with...We're not against the project, we're not against the commercial, industrial, not against the hotel, the retail...and there's some single family detached homes which would probably be fine as well. The item we're against, the one specific issue, is the high density residential, and some upwards of 1,500 to 2,000 apartments, and we just think it's going to affect our [property] values..."
Mr. See added, "Boeing has proposed business parks and job producing businesses, light industrial office parks on six other properties, every property except Long Beach. So we feel that there are commercial uses, possibly hotels and minimal retail. Nobody ever said that they can't build anything, that's not our point of view. But once again, I want to drive that point home. They've done it on six other properties -- commercial, industrial uses -- we believe they can do it here."
There was some dissent. "You take 2,500 residential units and replace it with an office complex, you're taking away several thousand people and replacing them with maybe 5, 10, 15, 20-thousand people that will be coming at very impacted times of the day, rather than a residential or mixed use community where those traffic patterns will be mitigated," said a man who described himself as a former Irvine resident. He said that city "seems very pristine and nice at 3 o'clock [in the afternoon]...but at 7 o'clock in the morning...people are all getting up...and they're all going to these types of [office] complexes where there are thousands of people working all the at the same time and thousands of people leaving. And the other thing to consider about that, is that most of these people will not be living in our neighborhoods. They'll come to this city, they'll work, [but] they won't drop a dime for dinner, they won't drop a dime for breakfast, they won't shop in the stores because they're on their way home...and they're going to go to Target in their own neighborhood."
Mr. See replied, "That is a good point. Office uses would have slightly higher traffic, I don't think a whole lot...during peak hours. But keep in mind, no matter what gets built there are going to be impacts...We feel that residential has more of an impact. They're going to pack our parks and our schools...We just feel like high density apartments has a worse impact than an office complex with some traffic during peak hours. I don't know how anybody else feels about that." [audience applause]
Heartwell Park homeowner Herb Levi asked, "Has anyone sat down and figured out how this project will be financed without the residential component?" Mr. See replied that he believes the site will require clean up not required elsewhere...and believes this is what sets Long Beach apart from the other Boeing developments that don't have residential components. "They have to put high density residential [in Long Beach] to make it pencil out for them...[T]hat's not our problem. That's Boeing's problem. That's their self-inflicted problem. [applause] It should not be put on our backs..."
After hearing the presentations, one man asked how much money organizers had in the bank. "$500," was the reply. "Well, now you have $1,000 because I'm writing you a check," said the man to considerable applause. Another audience member offered to donate $100 more.
After the meeting, co-organizer Gene Lassers told LBReport.com, "The meeting basically put Boeing on notice that we're not going to roll over easily."