|(Feb. 1, 2017, 10:25 p.m.) -- As LBREPORT.com previously stated: it's big, could affect properties and neighborhoods citywide...and as we show below, that includes quiet ELB.
On Thursday Feb. 2 at 5:00 p.m., LB's non-elected (Mayor chosen, Council approved) Planning Commission will hold a hearing, take public testimony, discuss and possibly make changes, and vote to send to the City Council proposed changes to a complete revision of the way Long Beach City Hall treats land uses citywide. City staff proposes an entirely new Land Use Element (LUE) and an entirely new Urban Design Element to LB's General Plan.
Changes in the city's Land Use Element invite future changes to the city's zoning (which is supposed to be consistent with the Land Use Element.) These changes could create economic incentives for projects and developments that, over time, could change the area's residential and commercial densities.
The changes wouldn't happen overnight; they might be subtle at first, occurring in some areas but not others; they might not happen, or if they do, they might be years away. But once City Hall makes the changes, the process would be driven by economics. By increasing allowable land uses, City Hall would create economic incentives for more intense residential and commercial uses and developments.
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For example, in current low-density East Long Beach, the newly proposed Land Use Element classifies the sprawling residential area (stretching from basically Lakewood Blvd/Clark Ave. to the eastern city limits, and from Atherton St. to Carson St.) as a "Founding and Contemporary Neighborhood" Placetype.
Its narrative text describes this PlaceType for "single family and low density housing" but an accompanying table listing "PlaceType, Density and Intensity Levels (p. 65) indicates that it would allow residential densities ranging from 7 dwelling units per acre up to 18 dwelling units per acre.
For a rough idea of what 18 dwelling units per acre might look like, consider that the controversial "Riverwalk" residential development (allowed by the Council on the former Will J. Reid scout park site) sought only roughly 13 dwelling units per acre and the Crown Point development built in the late 1970s in the 7th district near Los Cerritos Park allowed a bit over 14 dwelling units per acre. [We presume allowing up to double-digit residential densities may be meant to invite townhouses or the like, depending on future zoning.]
The text narrative describing the "Founding and Contemporary Neighborhood" PlaceType likewise invites density by proposing "appropriately scaled multi-family structures" at "neighborhood edges, transitions and key intersections..." [LUE, p. 75]
The "Placetype, Density and Intensity" table on p. 65 indicates that the maximum allowable residential height is "2 stories, 28 feet" but a footnote states that: "Height may be increased to three stories as shown on MAP LU-7 consistent with the existing land use pattern." [Much of ELB's current R-1 type zoning allows up to two stories plus an added two feet for stair access to the roof.]
Meanwhile, in ELB's commercial nodes, the new Land Use Element proposes to allow three story commercial buildings instead of the area's current mainly-low-rise commercial buildings at Spring/Woodruff/LCD, Spring/Palo Verde, Spring/Bellflower, and the Los Altos shopping center along Bellflower Blvd. north and south of Stearns St. and the ELB Carson St. Towne Center. [Source: Eastside Placetype Maps pp. 66-67 (legend on p. 67) plus the "PlaceType, Density and Intensity Levels" p. 65, with footnoted text indicating maximum height limits can vary; p. 65 refers to Map LU7 but the Land Use Placetype Height Limits appear on Map LU8 p. 68 which indicates the height limits could reach three stories.]
The areas in purple on the PlaceType map -- the shopping areas at Spring/Woodruff/LCD and Wardlow/LCD/Palo Verde -- are designated as designated as "Neighborhood-Serving Centers and Corridors -- Low" and described as "low-rise, low-intensity mixed use (housing and retail) commercial centers and corridors designed to meet consumers’ daily needs for goods and services close to residential areas (see Map LU-11). Ideally, residents could walk to these locations for shopping, personal services or dining. This PlaceType applies to locations where shopping combined with low-density housing is desirable from both a land use and mobility perspective. This is frequently the case at major street intersections and/or along established neighborhood shopping corridors, particularly where these corridors are served by transit." [LUE, p. 80]
Are the following "Preferred uses and development standards" what ELB residents want for Spring St./Woodruff/LCD and Wardlow/LCD/Palo Verde?
And the Placetypes in red -- the "Plaza" at Spring St./Palo Verde, the SE commercial center at Bellflower/Spring St., the Los Altos Shopping Center (along Bellflower, both sides of Stearns St.) and ELB Towne Center -- are described as "Community Commercial" meant to encourage "a wide range of local and community-serving commercial uses in buildings [limited to three stories at these locations]...These may include auto sales and repair, appliance sales and repair, furniture stores, hardware stores, clothing stores, restaurants, grocery stores, fast-food outlets and similar uses. Preferred uses and development standards include:
Overall, City Hall's planners have the following in mind for ELB:
[Proposed Land Use Element, Eastside, Issues/Needs, pp. 147-148] . The Eastside of Long Beach is well-served by schools, libraries, police and fire facilities. Recreation open space in the community is abundant, although more neighborhood-focused park space is desirable as much of the existing public open space is devoted to golf and sports fields. Another issue in recent years is the mansionization of single-family homes and the over-development of parcels, which have left little open space. Needed are greater design controls and higher standards to ensure that remodels of existing homes and insertions of new developments are attractive, composed of quality materials, and compatible with neighboring uses and structures. Although shopping opportunities are fairly good for Eastside residents, most centers are too far to walk to for the majority of people and are highly automobile-oriented in design. Vehicular traffic moves well throughout the area; however, it is often at the expense of other modes of travel, namely pedestrians and bicyclists. In the future, a better multi-modal balance is called for. Traffic will need to be calmed and controlled so residents feel safe to walk or ride their bicycles for short trips or daily exercise. Also detracting from East Long Beach walkability and attractiveness is the lack of street trees along many streets. Many need to be replaced due to the age of the trees.[Comment: Do eastside residents (including those who object to the green "bollards" along part of Studebaker Rd) want traffic "to be calmed and controlled so residents feel safe to walk or ride their bicycles for short trips or daily exercise?"]
All of this is coming to the Feb. 2 Planning Commission hearing. The public can voice their views on the proposed changes, pro or con now and when this reaches the City Council in the coming weeks or months when a Council majority will ultimately decide.
And that Council vote will in many ways decide the future for many of LB's neighborhoods.
LBREPORT.com will provide LIVE VIDEO of Thursday's Planning Commission meeting on our front page -- www.LBREPORT.com. Scheduled start time is 5:00 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.
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