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    Airport Done Deal & Expanded Despite Appeal? With Feb. 18 Council Hearing Pending, Community College Bd of Trustees Holds Special Meeting To OK Leasing Part Of Clark Ave. Vets Stadium Lot To City Hall For Parking...Not Restricted To "Rental Car & Airport Employee Parking" That City Hall Currently Says It Wants

    We post map showing area

    LGB Clark Ave. lot Feb. 03(February 14, 2003) -- Despite a pending Feb. 18 City Council hearing on whether to allow Airport-related parking on a swath of the Veterans Stadium lot fronting Clark Ave. for up to eight years, the LB Community College Board of Trustees quietly voted at a special Feb. 5 meeting to pave the way for the City Hall desired project in ways that could go beyond what City Hall currently says it wants.

    Although City Hall now proposes to restrict the parking to rental cars and airport employees -- awhich the Conditional Use Permit being appealed to the City Council by LBHUSH2 president Rae Gabelich does -- the LB Community College District has agreed to lease the swath of the Veterans Stadium lot to City Hall "for the purpose of parking motor vehicles and for such other purposes as are associated with the parking of motor vehicles."

    That underlying verbiage allows more than parking for rental cars and Airport employees. It effectively allows the City Council -- without further approval from LBCC -- to permit Airport parking for other purposes if a current or future Council subsequently so chooses.

    LGB Clark Ave. lot Feb. 11/03The area to be leased involves part of the Veterans Stadium lot fronting Clark Ave. extending north from Conant St. to the baseball diamond, large enough to accommodate roughly 519 cars. The map (left) is an exhibit to a city staff memorandum accompanying an agenda item seeking Council approval for the arrangement at the Feb. 18 Council meeting. (To see a clearer pdf image of the map, click the image.)

    If the City Council votes to accept what the Community College district has agreed to do, it would enable the furthest eastward expansion of Airport uses since the mid-1950's. The Conditional Use restrictions that City Hall has attached to the current project can be changed by a current or future Council at some subsequent point with relative ease. Expressions of City Hall's current plans, or promises by elected officials, are not legally binding on them or on future Councils.

    The actual lease proposed between City Hall and the Community College District (legally separate entities) is not attached to the publicly agendized Council materials and was unavailable to when requested late this afternoon. [ withheld publishing this story until today in hopes the lease would be part of the agendized materials]. City staff indicated to that the lease is still in draft form.

    City Hall initially described its proposed parking on the Veterans Stadium lot as "temporary"...after which the (non-elected) Planning Commission voted (5-2, Sramek & Fields dissenting) to grant the Conditional Use Permit for up to eight years (a five year initial term plus three consecutive one year renewal terms.)

    The Community College Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 5 to lease the property on the identical terms that City Hall's Planning Commission approved (up to eight years, five years plus three consecutive one year terms.) This is despite the fact that the City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on Feb. 18 to decide whether to reverse the Planning Commission's action, being sought via an appeal filed by LBHUSH2 president Rae Gabelich.

    The Council (not the College Trustees) will ultimately be responsible for what takes place, but the manner in which the College Board of Trustees acted has drawn the attention of local activists. The Trustees first convened a "special meeting" (not regularly scheduled), then camouflaged the substance of their Veterans Stadium vote by listing it under "Administrative Services" as simply a "Resolution, Authorizing Lease and Sale Agreements with the City of Long Beach."

    CA's open meeting law, the Brown Act, requires that a government body's agenda contain "a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting...A brief general description of an item generally need not exceed 20 words."

    The item came to's attention after an alert LB activist spotted an obscure, legal notice by the LB Community College District in a local paper on Feb. 8.

    Acting on a motion by Dr. Thomas J. Clark (former Mayor/4th district Councilman), the Trustees voted to approve the deal without dissent, including Jeff Kellogg (former 8th district Councilman and Vice Mayor); Roberto Uranga (City Hall employee and spouse of 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga); Trudy Polsky and Diane McNinch.

    The unanimous vote by all incumbents was crucial. Had even one Trustee dissented and voted no, that would have stopped the deal. The CA Education Code requires a unanimous vote of all Trustees to lease LBCC property.

    The minutes of the Trustees meeting (not yet officially approved but posted on the LBCC web site in draft form) indicate the Trustees were told this prior to their unanimous vote. They even continued (carried over) their originally convened special meeting from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5 to ensure Trustee McNinch would be present.

    The minutes of the Trustees' meeting indicate an LBCC staffer who negotiated the agreement didn't mention Ms. Gabelich's pending appeal in describing the process. "[T]he City Council...will be meeting on the 18th of February to pass their own resolution regarding the authorization for them to enter into the agreements," he explained.

    He added with complete accuracy:

    "[I]t appears at this point that those vehicles [using the lot] will probably be rental car vehicles although there's a broader definition in the agreement..." [emphasis added].

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