Support the LB businesses you see here:

The Enterlines
Bill & Karen Enterline are ELB realty experts. Click here for info on area property values.

Lovelace pic
Choose LB DJ
Bill Lovelace for your event and ask for discount, click here to learn more

Nino's Ristorante:
Click here if you're hungry or for catering!
3853 Atlantic Ave.

Return To Front Page

We Get E-Mail
Neighborhood Groups/Meetings
Crime Data
City Council Agendas
Port of LB Agendas
E-Mail Your Councilmember
LB Parks, Rec & Marine
LB Schools
References & Archives
Lost, Found & Adoptable Pets


Water Dept. Wants Chunk of El Dorado Park Land for Filtration Facility

Planning Comm'n restricts CEQA approval; park protection advocates may appeal

(February 13, 2002) -- has learned City Hall may be headed toward another confrontation over use of LB park land for non-park purposes.

LB's Water Dept. is proposing to take a chunk of El Dorado park land (1,600 sq. ft.) to build a one story, 25 x 50 foot building plus two parking spaces, plus a service road occupying 8,000 sq. ft., all of which is described as an "insignificant amount of park area," for a water filtration facility (details below) near the Police Academy, north of Wardlow Rd, in the park's northwest area.

The Water Dept. wants to replace costly, potable drinking water, now being used to replenish El Dorado Park's lakes, with filtered, reclaimed water, purified through the filtration facility. This would also conserve water now taken from the well's aquifer to be used for other needs.

Park protection advocates Don May and Ann Cantrell also favor using reclaimed water, but bristle at allowing construction of another building on park land.

Mr. May says there are better, more environmentally friendly ways to produce filtration results, including using wetlands techniques, that could avoid constructing a building on park land.

El Dorado Water Dept. areaThe site is described as "located at the southern boundary of the Police Academy next to the existing chain link fence" although the final location may be somewhat flexible. Accordingly, our photos don't indicate a precise location, just the general vicinity for reference.

On February 7, Ms. Cantrell and Mr. May testified at LB's Planning Commission, which voted to limit City Hall's Mitigated Negative Declaration (of non-significant environmental impacts) to applying for the grant...but without precommitting to approving the Water Dept.'s specific plan (transcript excerpt below).

This allowed some room to find common ground, but has learned that a Feb. 12 meeting involving Mr. May, Ms. Cantrell, LB Water Dept. staff (and attended by Tim Patton, staff aide to 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell) was unable to resolve the issue.

Mr. May has subsequently advised that if the matter cannot be resolved within the coming days in contacts with the 4th or 5th district Council offices, he will likely appeal the matter to the City Council.

Such an appeal could derail the project, since the state's grant application deadline is apparently at the end of February. [ comment: If so, it appears the proposal didn't consider that public opposition might figure into meeting the grant application's deadline.]

The Water Dept.'s Plan

City Hall's Mitigated Negative Declaration describes the Water Dept.'s project in pertinent part as follows:

El Dorado Water Dept. area #2

The project is the construction of a one-story, 25-foot by 50-foot, prefabricated building to contain a Nanofiltration facility to purify recycled water for the lakes in El Dorado Park West and the installation of subsurface pipelines to receive recycled water and to transmit purified water to the lakes...

A 800-foot long, 10-foot wide, paved service road is proposed to the Nanofiltration facility...Two paved parking spaces are proposed for service vehicles. Screen landscaping of the facility is proposed as provided under the City Site Plan Review procedure.

The City of Long Beach Water Department will file for a $1.5 million State Water Quality Control Grant to fund the project.

Construction is estimated to take approximately 7-months, December 2002 to June, 2003.

Facility Operation:

Currently the Park lakes are filled from an existing water well located in the northeasterly corner of the Park...The proposal is to filter reclaimed water to a quality better than the existing "potable water" standards...

The filtration facility consists of a series of filters that the reclaimed water is passed through. The system's noise is hardly detectable at a distance of 3-feet. The filtration facility rejects approximately 20-percent of the water called "brine," which will be discharged into the sanitary sewer system.

The Mitigated Negative Declaration described anticipated recreational impacts in pertinent part as follows:

The proposed project will provide a continuous, quality water level of the existing freshwater lakes. The project is considered an enhancement of the park.

El Dorado Water Dept. area #3The Nanofiltration plant and two-space parking lot will occupy an underdeveloped, relative [sic] small geographic area of the park (1,600 sq. ft.) The proposed location abutting the Police Academy will minimize the area of the park needed for the facility. The access road will cover approximately 8,000 sq. ft. of undeveloped land. The project building and paving will occupy an insignificant amount of park area.

No significant environmental impacts are anticipated.

Regarding aesthetics, the Mitigated Negative Declaration states in pertinent part:

The [one story, 25 foot by 50 foot] building is proposed to be located at the southern boundary of the Police Academy next to the existing chain link fence.

The Water Department proposes to landscape the area next to the proposed structure. The proposed development will be subject planning Site Plan Review and Parks, Recreation and Marine Approval. Aesthetics and landscape improvements are primary considerations during the required Site Plan process.

The Site Plan review of the relatively small project will enhance aesthetics and prevent significant adverse impacts.

The Planning Commission's Feb. 7 hearing

When the Planning Commission took up the proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration on February 7, Ms. Cantrell and Mr. May showed up.

Ms. Cantrell, who has repeatedly opposed taking park land for non park purposes, brought photos showing parts of the park that might be taken in the Water Dept. plan.

Mr. May proposed using wetlands techniques he said could provide filtration and accomplish the desired result without taking parkland for a building.

Planning Commissioners voiced support for protecting parks but indicated concern about jeopardizing an opportunity to apply for a $1.5 million grant for the project.

Seeking common ground, Planning Commissioner Chuck Greenberg made a motion (ultimately approved by the Commission) to OK a Negative Declaration for the grant application...but not precommitting to the specific Water Dept. plan. Transcript excerpt follows:

Commissioner Greenberg: ...I'd like to make a motion to approve the Negative Declaration but only for the purpose of applying for the grant, and understanding that the City is not precommitted to a specific construction project and understanding hopefully that we may use some of the grant money to look at the environmental impacts that may occur one way or another in carrying out the intent of the project, if that makes any sense.

The Planning Commission vote lets City Hall apply for the state grant, and if the grant money is received, City Hall could presumably then ask the state to approve a modified project (perhaps more environmentally friendly) that would still accomplish the same result.

However, Planning Commissioners couldn't guarantee this under the circumstances. For example, City Hall could get the state grant money, and the Water Dept. could then say changes were impossible, or the state could balk at approving changes. Under those scenarios, would LB City Hall really turn down $1.5 million and not do the project?

"To this City Hall, money speaks louder than parks," Ms. Cantrell said after the Planning Commission vote.

Mr. May said he left the Planning Commission session more optimistic, believing the Planning Commission's vote effectively encouraged Water Dept. officials to meet and resolve the matter before the deadline for his filing an appeal (ten days).

They did hold such a meeting but Mr. May says Water Dept. staff didn't show much flexibility. "They [the Water Dept.] basically told us to take it or leave it," Mr. May said.

[Attempts by to get the Water Dept's view were unsuccessful as of this posting. However, we plan to update this article with the agency's newsworthy responses when provided.]

Mr. May said he intends to make an effort to meet with the 4th and 5th district Council offices in the coming days, but if those meetings prove similarly unproductive, he will likely file an appeal by Friday.

Tim Patton, an aide to 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell who attended the meeting, told that Councilwoman Kell was opposed to any further non park uses in parks.

Mr. Patton noted that even if the Water Dept. were to bring its current project forward again, it would have to survive approval by the Recreation Commission, the Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council.

Current lack of City Charter protection for park land

How could a project offering an outcome that City Hall and environmentalists both say they want careen into a trainwreck?

One reason may lie in the City Council's own actions..and inaction on park land.

City Hall's insistence on expanding its NLB police facility into roughly two acres of Scherer Park land (promising replacement parkland elsewhere in NLB) has convinced a number of local activists that it's time for a Charter Amendment that protects LB parkland by preventing future Council, Planning Commission or Recreation Commission approval of non park uses in parks.

After last year's bruising City Council debate over the NLB police facility in Scherer Park, 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell vowed not to have this repeated. She agendized discussion of a ballot measure to preserve park land (details were left unspecified), but then pulled the item off the agenda at the last moment. It has never returned.

Instead, City Hall has recently tried to refocus public attention on a new draft Open Space Element to its General Plan, but despite the gravitas conjured up by its name, it will not legally bind future City Councils in the way a Charter Amendment could.

Likewise, a misnamed "parks in perpetuity" item, floated over a year ago by Councilman (now 2d time Mayoral candidate) Ray Grabinski, never had the power to protect parks from future Council action in perpetuity or otherwise. As a simple Muni Code amendment, it could not control future Council actions. It would allow the public to attend more meetings and voice more objections before City Hall could again vote to do as it wished.

A City Charter amendment, which would require a vote of the people, would be binding on future City Councils.

At the August 29, 2000 City Council meeting, Councilman Grabinski lectured Ms. Cantrell as follows in justifying his lesser proposal:

"[T]his is not going to be what some people wanted...Ann Cantrell would love to have all the voters decide once and for all what goes into parks. And that may happen. That may happen. It's not gonna happen this week, or this month."

Councilmembers have the power to put a park protective Charter Amendment on the ballot with five supportive Councilmembers' votes.

Return To Front Page

Copyright © 2002, LLC. All rights reserved.
Third parties may cite portions as fair use if attributed to "" (print media) or "Long Beach Report dot com" (electronic media).