|(August 14 , 2017, 4:03 p.m.) -- Below is our view of what may or may not occur if City Hall's Mayor-picked Planning Commission votes on Aug. 17 to recommend, and LB's elected City Council subsequently votes (in the next few months) to approve the increased density and changed land uses recommended by city staff on the maps detailed below. [Related LBREPORT.com coverage here.]
It's impossible to know with certainty if or when these results may occur at any of these specific locations. Land uses are marketplace and economically driven. However, a city's land use policies, decided by its City Council, effectively encourage or discourage how land owners may choose to use their land.
The maps on the link below show the most recent proposed increased building heights and increased density levels recommended by city staff for Planning Commission voted action on Thurs. Aug. 17. Click below and scroll through the maps to find your neighborhood. Areas marked 3ST, 5ST and the like mean "3 stories" or "five stories."
Here, for example, are 5th and 4th district map screen saves.
A map legend is below:
The dark purple areas would allow "mixed uses" -- combining commercial and residential (residences above or below businesses.) City staff lists its various proposed "Placetypes" and the types of uses allowed within them in its proposed Land Use Element, Table LU3 at p. 65. Table LUE3 still applies although some maps and placetypes have been changed as indicated in maps linked above and at this link.
The maps and links above are in officially prepared City of Long Beach documents.
The images below were created by us based on what the proposed maps indicate, but the images below are unofficial, not to scale, not proposed by the property owner and offered only to convey for discussion an approximate sense of the scale of the proposed allowable land use changes.
So consider this as a possible future scenario. You live in a single family home post-WWII developed LB neighborhood, the type comprising much of ELB's 4th and 5th Council districts (although the scenario below is in principle applicable to neighborhoods elsewhere.) You wake up one morning to discover that after the City Council's action, three of your neighbors quietly sold their homes to some out of town developer, a corporate entity that plans to put six to nine townhouses where three houses currently sit.
You check with City Hall and learn that when the City Council voted in late 2017 to approve changes in land uses seen on these maps, it triggered a legal requirement to change zoning to make it consistent with the land use changes. You're told that zoning is currently pending, a matter for the Council to decide in the future..and this may or may not enable a corporate developer/buyer to build the dense housing in your neighborhood (and it's not clear if under the subsequently to be decided zoning if the new housing would have to include two car garages for each new unit.)
You're told that the land use changes are intended to encourage upgrading parts of the city that are blighted or have current uses (strip malls, liquor stores) that under-serve or disserve residents, and the changes are meant to upgrade and provide more services and new housing that improve neighborhoods. Since blighted, under-used properties are expected to cost less to purchase and could bring a high rate of return, City Hall planners assumed that such changes would occur first in neighborhoods that need them most. But City Hall has no control over what buyers may do once city law creates the incentive...so if commercial property owners in areas that aren't blighted now decide to intensify uses on their property hoping to collect more rents, that's up to them.
You're also told that the changes reflect state law changes enacted by the legislature in Sacramento that include incentives such as giving developers "density bonuses" if they build new, dense housing within roughly a quarter mile of transit corridors, which Sacramento lawmakers defined as rail lines or bus routes if they're well serviced. You're told that regional planning bodies have also adopted numbers of new housing units that Long Beach has to build or potentially lose "transportation" funds (which are your tax dollars.).
You discover when you run some errands (bank, groceries) at the neighborhood's shopping nodes that after the Council voted to allow greater land use density, some of your favored businesses will be closing for a few months because the commercial landlord/owner now wants to rebuild the current one story buildings into three or four story buildings. These include three story buildings at all four corners of the Plaza shopping area (Spring/Palo Verde) and in commercial nodes southward on Palo Verde, plus four story buildings north of the 405 along Los Coyotes Diagonal at Spring St. ("Pavilions") and at Wardlow Rd. ("Ralphs")..and the four story areas could include "mixed uses" (meaning apartments or other businesses.) You wonder where their employees, customers and residential tenants will park.
And you learn that after the Council acted, some now-vacant property and commercial buildings along LCD and nearby have been bought by a developer who plans to put several hundred townhouses in the location alongside the nearby single family home neighborhood.
You also learn that Los Altos shopping centers along the east side of Bellflower Blvd., both north of the 405 and south of the 405, can now be rebuilt with five story buildings, and allowed as "mixed use" (businesses combined with residences above). You wonder what's going to happen to the traffic in your area. Your drive is already slower than usual, since the City has used tax dollars to shrink vehicle lanes and install bicycle lanes on a number of streets, some with green "bollards" (obstruction posts) to protect seemingly rare bicycle riders.
You and your neighbors decide to appeal some of the proposed developments, since they'll negatively impact your neighborhood, but you learn that by its late 2017 vote, the LB City Council accompanied the land use changes with a "program environmental impact report." By using that special type of EIR for the citywide land use changes (which the Council didn't have to do; a program EIR is sometimes used for specific plans in limited areas), the Council effectively made it much harder for neighborhood residents -- now and in the future -- to challenge each new project's impacts as they're proposed (as current zoning will also be changed by subsequent Council actions to make it consistent with the land use changes.)
Your home's value had been increasing, and your family counted on it to pay for the kids' college plans, to refinance and pay down other debts and cover your retirement, but now you wonder what the new supply of smaller housing units will do, along with affecting the neighborhood's previous selling-point as a low-density suburban area.
You call your Councilmember's office, where the person who came to your door seeking your vote is now too busy or unavailable to speak with you. An office staffer tells you the Council changes were part of Mayor/Council policy to promote "smart growth" that help address the current housing shortage, reduce vehicle miles traveled to combat global warming and climate change and provide you and your neighbors with the "choice" or nearby pedestrian and bicycle accessible uses.
For the record: these decisions will ultimately be made by the full City Council. Five of nine incumbent Councilmembers -- Gonzalez, Price, Mungo, Uranga and Richardson -- plus Mayor Garcia are seeking re-election in April 2018 (with runoffs if needed in June.) LBREPORT.com has reported in detail the contributors (campaign and officeholders) to these incumbents which can be viewed here.
As of Aug. 14, no candidates have filed the necessary paperwork to create a committee that can raise money to challenge the incumbents in April 2018.
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