News / Transparency Watch

City Moves To Delay For Up To Two Months Decision On Releasing Public Records Sought By Re $1 Mil Price Cut For Developer/Buyer Of Atlantic/Artesia Properties 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.
(Dec. 26, 2018) -- The City of Long Beach has moved to delay for as long as two months a decision on whether to release public records sought by regarding a $1 million price cut approved by the City Council for the developer/buyer of city-owned properties in the NE quadrant of Atlantic Ave./Artesia Blvd. sought the records on December 11 following the Council's voted approval of the action (motion by Richardson carried 7-0, Mungo and Gonzalez absent, exited before the item.) On Dec. 17, the City's Records Coordinator office (part of the City Manager's office) notified that "the City of Long Beach has determined that responsive records exist and will be disclosed. The City still is working on compiling the appropriate documents and will produce them as promptly as possible within a reasonable time frame. Staff estimates that it will take between 6-8 weeks to gather and review the documents." requested records from Jan. 1, 2016 reflecting communications on the sale by or between the City's Departments of Economic Development or Development Services and the office of Councilman Richardson or the buyer; between the Councilman and the buyer, communications between staff/management and County of Los Angeles or state offices regarding the transaction as well as proposals/bids submitted by parties other than the City-selected buyer in response to the City's RFP. We included any such records that might be on personal communication devices of Councilman Richardson, his staff and/or city staff under the CA Supreme Court's ruling in City of San Jose vs. Superior Court.

As previously reported by, the properties collectively cost LB's now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency $7.7+ mil to acquire and in August 2016, the Council (having gained approval from Sacramento to sell the properties) voted 9-0 to sell them for $2.1 million to "Atlantic and Artesia LLC," an affiliate of Frontier Real Estate Investments, LLC. The developer/purchaser signed a purchase/sale agreement for $2.1 million and the parties thereafter agreed to make certain changes detailed in a Dec. 4 Council agendizing memo and reiterated in a city staff presentation at the Dec. 4 hearing. City staff acknowledged that the requested Council action would reduce the sale price paid to the City to $1.1 million of which the City would receive about 21%.

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After the purchase/sale agreement was signed in Dec. 2016, city staff says it sought a number of public dedication requirements and inclusion of a 4,800 sq. ft. "parklet" which collectively reduced the anticipated area for commercial development. has previously noted that the amount of the reduction was roughly 17.3% of the developer's Aug.2016 proposed commercial square footage compared to the 47.56% reduction in the developer's purchase price sought in the proposed Council action.

At the Dec. 4 hearing, Councilman Richardson urged approval of the agendized action, acknowledging that reducing the sale price would cost the city roughly $200,000 (21% of the $1 million cut in sales price) but reasoned that the project would result in $90,000 in property taxes annually, supposedly making up the sum the city wouldn't receive by cutting the developer's cost by $1 million ($90,000 x 2 years.)

"The $200k that the City won't receive as a part of making this investment, we [will] receive $90,000 in property taxes and $9,000 in sales taxes in the first year, it makes itself up in one year what we invest. So this is a smart economic opportunity created by making these improvements to the site and I think we should continue to think about how we make a small investment today and recoup it in a fairly short amount of time and that will have a long term effect on our communities."



A city written report, part of the agenda hearing item required by state statute, stated in part: "Given project costs of approximately $9,000,000, anticipated annual property taxes at full implementation is $90,000, a 258% increase in annual property taxes to affected taxing entities." The basis for assuming that the developer's project costs would equate to 1% of the Assessor's future valuation wasn't explained in the city report.

The city report also acknowledged "approximately $7,790,000 in land acquisition costs through negotiated settlement and the use of eminent domain. Relocation and clearance costs are unknown."


When the City Council voted in Aug. 2016 to sell the properties for $2,100,000 (which staff acknowledged at the time wasn't the highest offer, it was "slightly lower"), it was for [city Dec. 2018 report text] "a development concept design that offered a well balanced land use transition while complementing the surrounding residential neighborhood."

At the August 2, 2016 Council meeting that approved the original $2.1 million sale price, Councilman (then-Vice Mayor) Richardson offered effusive praise for the development as it was initially proposed, saying it included amenities and features sought by the public. To hear quick launch audio of Richardson's words (and other Council/Mayor/public comments on August 2, 2016), click here.

California's Constitution forbids making gifts of public money, but in 2016 (at basically the same time as the LB City Council approved the $2.1 million sale price), the state legislature enacted AB 806, now codified as CA Government Code section 52201 to promote what it called "economic opportunities."



In its Dec. 4 agendizing memo, city staff offered the following rationale for its proposed reduced sale price:

Over the past two years, the Buyer/Developer has been working with City staff on the entitlement of the proposed project as required under the terms of the agreement. Through the entitlement process, City staff has further evaluated the conceptual design and requested significant changes and expansion of the project area. First, an approximate 4,800-square foot "parklet" will be introduced to the southwest corner of the project site and will be open to the public and patrons of the retail center. The space will be available for programming and community engagement to meet the needs for community gathering spaces that currently do not exist in the area. The Buyer/Developer will provide security during regular operating hours. Second, extensive architectural, landscape, and site modifications have been required increasing the quality of the project. The City has requested that the Buyer/Developer provide articulated building facades with brick veneer and smooth stucco finishes, large landscaped setbacks with tier landscaping, off-site landscaping, hardscape (multiple hardscape surfaces including stone pavers, concrete, and granite), and lighting improvements. Third, the Public Works Department has increased public dedication requirements of the project, thus reducing the anticipated area for development. Finally, the site plan has been modified to consist of four free standing buildings. The revised project design and new site plan are attached as Attachment C and D. The City-requested changes in the scope of the project have significantly increased the project costs, originally estimated at approximately $8,000,000.

Following Councilman Richardson's supportive remarks, Vice Mayor Dee Andrews and Councilman Al Austin also spoke in support of the proposed Council action.

No Councilmembers suggested reducing the amount of the sale price reduction and none asked what would happen if a Council majority declined to approve the reduced sale price.

With Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and Stacy Mungo and Mayor Garcia having already left for the evening, the seven remaining Councilmembers who voted to approve the $1 million sale price reduction were Jeannine Pearce, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw, Dee Andrews, Roberto Uranga, Al Austin and Rex Richardson.


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