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Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust Supports O'Donnell Feb. 7 Agendized Item (Joined by Schipske) To Expedite Comprehensive Revision of SEADIP (Development Standards Affecting Portion of SE LB)

Action follows Council Dec. 20 rejection (3-5) of proposed 2nd/PCH development. Agendizing memo text says: "While the SEADIP update is in process, the City Council's policy should be to not approve any new or pending requests for amendments to SEADIP."

(Feb. 4, 2012, 5:45 a.m.) -- The Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust (LCWLT) supports the Feb. 7 City Council item agendized by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell, joined by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, that would expedite a comprehensive update of development standards (SEADIP) affecting a large chunk of SE LB.

SEADIP area within red borders. Image source: City of LB

The group's support letter dated Feb. 1 (visible on its website www.lcwlandtrust.org) includes two suggestions "in order to ensure sincere community buy-in":

Hiring a project manager "that has both strong environmental credentials and a proven track record of working with land owners and the development community" (agendizing memo text: "Rather than city staff, the project management should be an outside consultant.") and extending the time period from two weeks until at least March 10 to produce an outline for the process for obtaining community input. (Agendizing memo text: "An outline of an efficient process for obtaining community input on the SEADIP plan should be completed within two weeks.")

In a letter dated Feb. 1 to the City Council, LCWLT President Pat Bliss writes:

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust enthusiastically supports the motion before the City Council February 7, 2012, to move forward with comprehensive master planning of the SEADIP area. As we have stated in the past, because of the certainty it would bring, a comprehensive and updated master plan for the area will benefit residents, land owners, fragile nearby wetlands and, yes, developers too.

We want to express our sincere appreciation to Council members Andrews [since withdrawn as a co-sponsor, his staff citing non-substantive grounds below] and O’Donnell for the vision and foresight their motion represents. Their leadership on this proposal underscores what we have said all along, that Los Cerritos Wetlands is a unique community and natural resource that belongs to all Long Beach residents, not just those who live nearby.

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust is especially pleased to note that input from the California Coastal Commission will be sought throughout the process. Consultation with the Coastal Commission and following the requirements of the Coastal Act are integral to successful planning within the Coastal Zone.

And we, as advocates for Los Cerritos Wetlands, hope to have a robust role in the specifics of how this community planning effort moves forward.

Regarding the specific motion to come before the Council on March 7th, we would like to share some additional thoughts and suggestions:

Retention of a project manager -- In order to ensure sincere community buy-in to the process, we suggest the City contract with a project manager that has both strong environmental credentials and a proven track record of working with land owners and the development community. We would advocate for standards and credentials that are equal to those of Terrell Watt Planning Consultants, a company well regarded for success in negotiating land-use agreements in California. And of course, Long Beach’s own Heather Altman is a recognized expert on land use planning and the environmental review process.

Timeline for community input -- Regarding two weeks to produce an outline for an efficient process for obtaining community input, we respectfully request the deadline be extended until at least March 10th in order to take into account the outcome about the community planning process that results from the meeting the LCWLT will be hosting on March 3rd.

We look forward to the certainty for developers and protection for wetlands that a comprehensive, updated, and revised SEADIP will deliver.

Councilman O'Donnell's agendizing memo includes the following verbiage: "While the SEADIP update is in process, the City Council's policy should be to not approve any new or pending requests for amendments to SEADIP." On December 20, 2011 the City Council voted (8-0) to have city staff initiate a SEADIP update after the Council rejected (3-5) a proposed 2nd/PCH development.

The O'Donnell agenda item's verbiage would presumably apply to the 2nd/PCH proposed project amid an effort by its developer (announced at the Jan. 10 Council meeting) to try to bring the proposed development back to the Council with some changes [details not disclosed on Jan. 10]. On Jan. 10, two Councilmembers publicly encouraged that revival effort: Councilman Gary DeLong (in whose district the proposed development is) and Councilman Robert Garcia. (LBReport.com coverage, (LBReport.com coverage, click here).)

Councilman DeLong isn't a co-signer on the O'Donnell agenda item, and in response to LBReport.com's Feb. 2 afternoon request for comment emailed (Feb. 2): "I strongly support moving forward with the SEADIP update as quickly as possible, and I believe that was the direction the City Council gave to the City Manager at the December 20th meeting. However, I also believe that the update process must occur in an open and transparent manner and that all stakeholders should be invited to be at the table. Let’s move quickly, but not at the expense of stifling public input."

Meanwhile, prior to noon Friday, Councilwoman Schipske joined in co-sponsoring O'Donnell's item (Feb. 2) while Councilman Dee Andrews withdrew his name as a co-sponsor. Councilman Andrews' Chief of Staff, John Edmond, told LBReport.com that an honest miscommunication had occurred for which he (Edmond) took responsibility. Mr. Edmond said he was under the impression that the agenda item [affecting a 3rd district issue] had been communicated to 3rd dist. Councilman DeLong but apparently that wasn't the case. "Councilman Andrews understands why Councilman DeLong was upset and I apologize for not checking," Mr. Edmond said...and added: "In no way does this mean that Councilman Andrews will or won't support the item on Tuesday (Feb. 7). He's going to deliberate like everyone else and come to his own conclusion at the Council meeting."

Councilman O'Donnell's memo accompanying his agendized item states:

On December 20, 2011, the Council directed staff to return in 60 days with recommendations for funding and initiating a comprehensive update of the South East Area Development Improvement Plan (SEADIP). This may involve amendments not only to the SEADIP specific plan, but also to the corresponding provisions of the City's Local Coastal Plan (LCP) and General Plan. To further advance the Council's direction to Staff and to expedite completion of the SEADIP update, it is necessary to engage in a number actions.

The SEADIP update should proceed immediately, according to an aggressive timeline that ensures maximum input from community and environmental groups, landowners, and the general public. Also input from the California Coastal Commission should be sought throughout the process. The timeline for the update should provide for the following:

  • A project manager should be retained within 30 days. Rather than city staff, the project management should be an outside consultant.

  • An outline of an efficient process for obtaining community input on the SEADIP plan should be completed within two weeks.

  • The formal filing of proposed SEADIP amendment should be completed within six months.

  • The environmental review process and public meetings should be completed within twelve months of the formal filing.

  • The SEADIP review should include the marina area identified as PD-4, which should be planned jointly with the SEADIP properties.

A number of sources should be identified to find funding for the review including public/private partnerships. If City funds cannot be identified for the preparation of the SEADIP update within thirty days, the City should accept the offer of Lyon Communities to advance funding. Pursuant to the Government Code, those funds shall be reimbursed to Lyon upon the development of property within the specific plan boundaries. To comply with the Government Code provision allowing the advancing and reimbursement of funds by an applicant for a specific plan amendment, an application for an amendment to SEADIP may be accepted jointly from one or more landowners, provided that there has been an opportunity for input from community and environmental groups, landowners, and the general public before that application is filed. With Lyon's concurrence, other landowners and/or organizations may join with Lyon as co-applicants.

In addition to the project manager, the City shall immediately retain a consultant to prepare the EIR for the SEADIP update. To facilitate an efficient environmental review process, the EIR consultant will immediately begin researching the associated regulatory framework, compiling relevant baseline data, and gathering other information needed to prepare the "Existing Environmental Conditions" portion of the EIR.

Staff should immediately contact Coastal Commission staff to advise them of the plan to update SEADIP and arrange for regular meetings to assure that Commission staff input on the update is received during the course of its preparation. While the SEADIP update is in process, the City Council's policy should be to not approve any new or pending requests for amendments to SEADIP. This is not a moratorium on building and is not intended to preclude any landowner from seeking to develop its property according to the current provisions of SEADIP.

Recommendation: Respectfully request the City Manager to work with appropriate staff and stakeholders to undertake an accelerated SEADIP development process as outlined and report back to Council within 45 days on the progress of the update process.

Meanwhile, city staff has agendized a separate item for the Feb. 7 Council meeting that seeks Council authority to prepare and submit a grant application (pursuant to the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program, Proposition 84) to fund an update of SEADIP.

[staff agendizing memo text] The Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program is funded by Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006. The Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program is designed to help local governments to develop and implement plans that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Strategic Growth Council was established by SB 732 to meet the goals of the California Global Warming Solution Act of 2006, and to manage and award grants to support the planning and development of sustainable communities.

At its December 20, 2011 meeting, the City Council directed staff to prepare a work plan for a comprehensive update to the SEADIP (PD-1) district. City staff became aware of the grant opportunity in early January. While staff is still preparing a work plan for the City Council's consideration, the short time frame to submit a grant application requires City Council action in advance of receiving an update on the work plan. This update would include a wetlands delineation study as well as determine land use intensities and development standards in the non-wetlands portions of SEADIP. A resolution has been prepared for the City Council that authorizes the City Manager, or his designee, to apply for and accept up to $1,000,000 in Sustainable Communities Grant and Incentive Program funds. If the City is awarded funding, the grant money will be used to fund this SEADIP update...

City Council action is requested on February 7,2012, as the deadline for submitting the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program application is February 15,2012.

FISCAL IMPACT Assuming the City's application is successful, the City would receive up to $1,000,000 in grant funding from the Strategic Growth Council, with a 10 percent in-kind match from the City that could include contributions in services and other non-cash resources. A job impact analysis is not possible at this time since it would depend on the final grant amount. Appropriations will be requested only after the City is notified of the grant award.

Developing with further to follow on LBReport.com.

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