(Dec. 2, 2004) -- LBReport.com posts on a link below a November 10, 2004 letter from the CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation, addressed to LB City Manager Jerry Miller which questions City Hall's record on multiple issues regarding Scherer Park land taken for a North LB police facility and promised replacement park land of double the size on 55th Way.
The letter, provided to us on request by the state agency, can be viewed in pdf form by clicking CA Dept. of Parks & Rec letter to City Manager Miller, Nov. 10, 2004.
LB city management project staffer Amy Bodek has confirmed to LBReport.com that she will travel to Sacramento on December 3 to discuss the issues raised in the letter with CA Dept. of Parks and Rec personnel. Ms. Bodek told LBReport.com that she views the meeting as an opportunity to clear up what she said appear to be misunderstandings and cited as examples:
- Although the CA Parks & Rec letter references a 1997 appraisal, a 2001 appraisal was conducted and provided to the state agency.
- Although the state agency says documents provided by City Hall don't demonstrate that the City complied with the CA Environmental Quality Act or its federal counterpart, a Superior Court [in Sacramento] upheld the City's EIR against a challenge...and that court's ruling upholding the City's EIR was upheld by an appellate court.
Ms. Bodek reiterated several times that she views the upcoming meeting as an opportunity to answer questions and resolve misunderstanding that may have occurred.
The Scherer Park issue escalated to a state and federal matter because LB City Hall previously accepted federal funds for Scherer Park improvements. Under federal law, if parkland improved with federal tax money is subsequently used for other purposes, the grantee (in this case, City Hall) must replace the lost park land on a one-for-one basis and comply with federal requirements in doing so. The requirements are administered for the feds by the CA Department of Parks and Recreation.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, earlier this year representatives of the U.S. National Park Service and CA DPR staff made an unannounced visit to the 55th Way replacement park site -- an abandoned industrial location -- which led to an exchange of correspondence between the state agency and the LB City Manager's office (links below).
Controversy over Scherer Park arose several years ago after City Hall announced plans to take roughly 2.2 acres of Scherer Park land at Atlantic Ave. and Del Amo Blvd. and replace it with "new" park land elsewhere. Park protection advocates, including "Friends of Scherer Park" led by Gigi Fast Elk Bannister and Reggie Bannister, decried the plan, but a number of prominent LB neighborhood activists in the vicinity backed the Scherer Park site.
As approved by LB's Planning Commission and City Council, the use of the Scherer Park land included a requirement that one for one park land replacement be provided that has comparable characteristics and size, that it be located in the area that would allow for use by generally the same persons who use the existing park land that is being lost, and that the substitute park land shall be acquired and improvements funded prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy for the new police facility.
At present, the North LB Police Facility is operating on the Scherer Park site under a temporary (apparently renewable) certificate of occupancy. A grand opening ceremony for the new facility, which had been slated for late October, was apparently put off.
City Hall staff has announced plans to replace the 2.2 acres of Scherer Park land on a more than a "two for one" basis...with 5.83 gross acres at a currently abandoned industrial site on 55th Way. The two for one pledge was cited repeatedly during the Council debate on the Scherer Park plan...which was approved on an 8-1 vote.
The Bannisters questioned whether City Hall's plans to replace the lost parkland met federal requirements and also filed suit via Friends of Scherer Park (which they founded) with CA Earth Corps to halt the taking of the Scherer Park land (citing CEQA and other grounds). Both a lower court and Court of Appeal sided with City Hall.
Pertinent correspondence between CA Dept. of Parks & Rec. and City of LB can be accessed below: