Eighty Public Speakers, Most Saying "No" To LUE / Recommend Receive and File...And Mayor-Picked Planning Comm'n Recommends "Yes" With Some Map Tweaks; Non-Binding Action Sets Stage For Council Decision On Increased Density
|(Dec. 12, 2017, 3:25 a.m.) -- As carried LIVE on LBREPORT.com, shortly after 11:30 p.m., LB's non-elected (Mayor chosen/Council approved) Planning Commission voted without dissent to recommend that the City Council confirm city-staff's Land Use Element & Urban Design Element placetype/height maps with some tweaks at some locations (and simultaneously update a program Environmental Impact Report for circulation.)
The Planning Commission vote came after over four hours of public testimony by eighty speakers from multiple parts of the city spanning WLB to ELB, the shore to NLB; most were from ELB's 4th and 5th Council districts, but with a sizable number from the 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 8th Council districts.
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Most speakers testified in opposition to the LUE, urging the Commission to recommend that the Council "receive and file" the LUE with many urging that staff re-work the document before bringing it back. Speakers in opposition variously charged insufficient public outreach; some said they learned about it via lawn signs, fliers or social networks and their neighbors remain unaware; others noted that the City didn't notify residents by using city utility bills. Multiple speakers likened the LUE's density increases to neighborhood-damaging 1980s developer-desired "crackerbox" density. A number of speakers criticized the LUE's use of "Placetypes," some saying it homogenizes and sacrifices unique parts of Long Beach. Several speakers voiced concern over the effects on the LUE of SB 35 and other 2017 Sac'to-enacted laws. And a number of speakers in opposition pointedly stated that they vote.
Speakers who urged "receive and file" included April 2018 Council candidates Gordana Kajer (3rd dist.), Corliss Lee (5th dist.) and Rich Dines (5th dist.) Ms. Kajer said it was clear that Development Services staff had lost the trust and confidence of the public, said the LUE was flawed and should be sent back with instructions to address outstanding issues and conduct improved public outreach before bringing the LUE back. Ms. Lee said public outreach was poor, noting that the city hadn't included notices or information about the LUE in utility bills. Mr. Dines (former Harbor Comm'r) said Port's Clean Air Action Plan succeeded because Port listened to the public and urged Comm'n to do likewise.
Dr. Lydia Hollie, who grew up in Central LB, was active for years in LB anti-gang efforts and now lives in NLB, urged receive and file.
Ann Cantrell (CARP, CONO and Eastside Voice) urged receive and file, at one point paraphrasing "Dr. Seuss" to urge citywide opposition to the density increase Placetypes: "We don't want them here. we don't want them there, we don't want them anywhere." she said.
ELB realtors Joe and Linda Sopo likewise urged "receive and file."
Nick Rose, Assistant Dir. of CONO, said the process has been a "farce" in which staff first increased proposed density, then backed off slightly to claim it's now a "reduction" when in fact the net result is increased density compared to the present. Mr. Rose said LUE supporters were trying to portray the LUE as the only option when in fact there are other options. He said it was a mistake to cede power to developers or to city staff and he isn't willing to give up city sovereignty and decision making to regionalism.
Wrigley's Alan Tolkoff strongly criticized the city's public outreach efforts, urged sending the LUE back to the drawing board, receive and file, and lower all building heights on Pacific Ave. to three stories. Wrigley resident Tom Stout said Mayor Garcia had turned Long Beach into a "developers' paradise."
5th dist. resident Rex Hurley said the LUE should be put on the ballot.
Other speakers sought tweaks to LUE maps in specific locations without explicitly opposing the remainder of the LUE.
A small percentage of speakers supported the LUE without changes. They included School Board member Meghan Kerr, her husband Andrew Kerr, a rep from LB Comm'l Real Estate Council (Adam Carillo, a Mayor Garcia appointee to the LB Transit Board and partner of Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez.) Another Garcia appointee to the LB Transit Board, Michael Clemson (who didn't identify himself by his appointive position) also testified in favor of the LUE. A rep from the L.A. County Business Federation also spoke in support. One individual supporting the LUE said the audience didn't look as if it was "representative" of the community and said opponents were practicing "modern day red-lining" [historical geographic racial discrimination.]
Following public testimony, Commission chair Erick Verduzco-Vega invited Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais to respond to public concerns over SB 35 (bill's full text is here). Mr. Mais reiterated points from his Nov. 27 memo summarizing SB 35 for the Mayor and City Councilmembers and added that in "seminars" (conducted by groups he didn't identify) participants voiced the view that developers weren't likely to use SB 35's streamlining due to its multiple prerequisites including payment of a "prevailing wage."
City of LB Advance Planning Officer Chris Koontz said the heights shown in specific map locations were the maximum heights at those locations (regardless of text in the Placetype narrative) and further stated that the map maximum height would apply for SB 35's purposes. [Mr. Koontz cited no authority for his latter conclusion and Ass't City Attorney Mais remained mum on the point.]
Asked by Commissioner Christoffels what would happen between the time the Council approved the LUE and the Council enacted zoning changes, Mr. Koontz indicated a property owner could wait or seek a zoning change amendment for the specific property consistent with the LUE.
The Commission recommended a number of map tweaks as follows:
Planning Comm'n vote is non-binding and sends the matter to the City Council where a majority can accept city staff's LUE, can accept it with Planning Comm'n recommendations, or make additional tweaks to LUE maps, or reject (receive and file) LUE. <
An early morning arithmetic error resulted in our typing ninety, not eighty speakers.
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