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With LUE Density Increase Maps Coming To Council March 6, Obtains These Materials City Att'y Office Sent To Mayor/Council is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Feb. 25, 2018, 11:35 a.m.) -- Less than two weeks before City Councilmembers may or may not make fateful decisions on Land Use Element density increase maps, the LB City Attorney's office has forwarded to the Mayor and Councilmembers two memos that Councilmembers already received last year, plus a newly issued 2018 brochure from the "League of CA Cities" summarizing a dozen Sacramento-enacted 2017 bills that now impact local housing land use, accompanied by a City Attorney office transmittal memo . learned of the City Attorney transmittal, requested a copy of what the Mayor and Council were sent and makes the materials publicly available below. The materials are:

[Scroll down for further.]

  • An April 4, 2017 memo from now-former Director of Development Services Amy Bodek to the Mayor and Council on 2016-enacted bills affecting "Granny Flats" and "density bonuses." (The Council adopted an ordinance implementing allowable Granny Flats in December 2017.)

  • A November Nov. 27, 2017 memo to the Mayor/Council from Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais summarizing SB 35 (an issue first raised in the LUE context by the public months earlier.) [As previously reported by, the City of LB didn't oppose SB 35 (taking a "neutral"/"watch" position while "working with the author" on local control aspects) although the League of CA Cities and multiple cities statewide opposed the bill. During this period, no Long Beach Councilmember agendized SB 35 for Council discussion or opposition as it advanced to passage, and the Council's "State Legislation Committee" (Austin, Mungo, Gonzalez) failed to meet after Jan. 10, the conclusion of the 2017 state legislative session.]

  • A "League of California Cities" 12-page brochure on the 2017 Sacramento housing legislation (only six pages of which discuss, in a few paragraphs each, multiple complex land use impactful bills.)
  • A Feb. 22, 2018 transmittal memo to the Mayor and Council from Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais. Mr. Mais' transmittal memo states in pertinent part [bracketed material by for clarity]:

    ...If a project meets the rigorous standards for [SB 35] streamlining (as discussed in the attached City Attorney memo), approval is ministerial [city clerk checklist type approval] without CEQA review. Approved projects are eligible for reduced parking standards, and in certain circumstances are eligible for State mandated density bonus enhancements.

    It is important to note that to qualify for SB 35 streamlining, a proposed project would be required (subject to the discussion of Density Bonus below) to meet all objective zoning standards and objective design review standards that would be applicable in the particular zone where the project is to be located. For example, if the zoning regulations limit the height of a building to no more than four (4) stories as per the LUE maps, a project would not be eligible for streamlining if an applicant proposed to build six (6) stories instead. This would be true even if another area of the City allowed for a six (6) story height limit..."



While not attached to the materials forwarded to the Mayor and Council, the following text is visible on the State of California's Housing and Community Development Agency website (and was previously reported by here) regarding SB 35:

[HCD agency website text]

Q: Must a development propose the maximum density permitted in the land use designation, or simply not exceed the maximum density? (pursuant to Section 65913.4(a)(5)(A))

A: A project must be compliant with the maximum density allowed, which would include any density allowed under the land use designation, up to the maximum density.

Q: If the total number of housing units on a parcel or specific plan area is limited to a specific number or allocation, could the total number of housing units in a development exceed that allocation if it is consistent with maximum density standards? (pursuant to Section 65913.4(a)(5)(A))

A: Yes. The statute specifies that a project that meets the maximum density allowed pursuant to that land use designation must be deemed consistent with objective zoning standards related to density regardless of any additional unit caps that are placed upon the parcel.

Q: Could a developer request a density bonus in addition to using the maximum allowable density?

A: Yes. SB 35 allows a development to request a density bonus that would exceed maximum allowable density in the zone and still qualify for streamlining provisions under SB 35 (pursuant to Section 65913.4(a)(5)(A)).

Q: If a specific plan or other legislative approval such as a conditional use permit is required by a city’s general plan, is such a requirement not considered an “objective planning standard” and therefore would not apply to an SB 35 development?

A: SB 35 specifically exempts developments from the conditional use permit process and must be approved through a streamlined, ministerial approval process if it satisfies the objective planning standard described (pursuant to Section 65913.4(a))

Q: Are both non-residential and residential portions of a mixed-use development subject to the streamlined and ministerial approval process, provided that residential uses make up at least two-thirds of the square footage of the total development?

A: Yes. If the entire development meets the requirements under SB 35, it can be subject to the streamlining process.

As has previously noted, SB 35's text is complex; it can be viewed at this link. The texts of more than a dozen other 2017 Sacramento housing/land use impacting bills are also impactful and complex.


Salient background

There is no legal requirement that the City Council advance the LUE maps on March 6; it is within the Council's discretion to do so or not do so, with or without changes to the maps as they now stand, or instead take other actions. A number of residents have urged the Council to further roll back proposed density increases. The "Downtown Long Beach Alliance" has signaled it may advocate that the Council revert to density increases that city staff previously sought. before an outpouring of opposition at Town Hall style meetings led to city proposed rollbacks and further Planning Commission recommended rollbacks of density increases.

If a Council majority advances the maps with changes, city staff will issue a revised "Environmental Impact Report" justifying the proposed changes and schedule a Council hearing with a final Council vote to enact the LUE and the maps in the coming weeks or months.

Although city staff unveiled its "PlaceType" draft LUE and maps in May 2015, the City Council has held only one roughly one-hour "study session" to date on the issue. It took place on June 13, 2017, when the Sacramento bills were progressing but hadn't yet been enacted. At the June 13, 2017 Council "study session," no Councilmembers publicly objected to the LUE's proposed density increases (although Councilman Daryl Supernaw voiced a non-specific concern about "parking.") The maps as shown to the Council and the public on June 13, 2017 [which were visible since May 2015 with relatively few changes] can be seen at this link.

In the Fifth District, the June 13 Council study session maps included proposed three story mixed uses at Parkview Village, the "Pavilions" and "Ralphs" and "bow tie" shopping nodes along Los Coyotes Diagonal. These drew no audible objections from 5th district Councilwoman Stacy Mungo at the June 13, 2017 Council study session.



Two days after the Council's June 13 "study session," city staff unveiled significantly revised maps at a June 15 Planning Commission "study session." These maps proposed considerably increased ELB density and drew strong public pushback at an August 17, 2017 Planning Commission meeting. (At the Augutst Planning Commission meeting, a member of the public, 4th district resident Janet West, publicly raised the issue of SB 35, which then began reporting in detail.) Resulting public push-back to the maps led to "Town Hall" style meetings that drew some of the largest crowds in opposition to a Long Beach City Hall-proposed action in the city's past quarter century.

Orange lawn signs appeared, urging the Council to "Say NO to the LUE." Candidates challenging incumbent Councilmembers in districts 3 5 and 7 surfaced (with the LUE prominently mentioned by candidates in districts 3 and 5.) Several challengers have indicated they believe the Council should NOT advance the LUE maps on March 6 -- with or without tweaks -- until neighborhood residents and decision making Councilmembers have first had a meaningful opportunity to review and discuss the LUE impacts of the multiple complex 2017-enacted bills.

In response to the public pushback, in November 2017, city staff proposed roll-backs to its June 15/August 17 density increase maps. In December 2017, the Planning Commission recommended further density roll-backs. These maps are now headed for the March 6, 2018 Council meeting. Its recommended maps aren't binding on the Council

Councilwoman Mungo indicated at the conclusion of a Feb. 3 private meeting with selected residents and Mayor Garcia that she plans to make a motion on March 6 to change any 5th district map areas now proposed for mixed uses to commercial uses. Mayor Garcia didn't indicate his position on this at the Feb. 3 meeting. ( exclusive coverage here.)

Councilwoman Price indicated at a Feb. 17 meet-and-greet for citywide candidates that she plans to propose a number of changes to the currently proposed maps. ( coverage here) has also reported on now-advancing SB 827 (by the author of SB 35) that would require cities to allow housing developers to build roughly four to eight story residential or mixed use buildings within a quarter to half mile of designated public transit (including buses.) (Coverage here, here and here) The League of CA Cities opposes SB 827 and has urged cities to do likewise, but to date the City of Long Beach hasn't taken a position.

As previously reported by, three Councilmembers (Mungo, Austin and Supernaw) acquiesced in a request by Austin [who has indicated he's considering running for a state Senate seat] to send the issue to a Council Committee until SB 827's author makes unspecified amendments. Regardless of what position on SB 827 the Committee does or doesn't recommend, the full Council isn't scheduled to meet again until March 6 (and the LB City Council's voted position is no guarantee of a Sacramento outcome.).

Developing. Further to follow.

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